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Old 12-27-2012, 08:22 PM   #1
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Waterton, Jasper and Lake Louise recommendations

Friends of the silver sled:

We are planning our first adventure into Canada with 2011 - 23 ft International, our dog Cooper the yellow lab, for our 25th wedding anniversary this coming summer (that would be wife and my 25th) :-). We decided this would be less stressful then heading over to Europe for the big event. We live in CO and will be heading up late August for a 2 week trip. We plan on heading up through the Glacier Park area, after stopping in Missoula to visit our daughter who is attending UM. We plan on going through Waterton Lakes then on to other locals in Alberta. We are looking for recommendations on places to stay, visit (not to miss places) and fly fish. We prefer the more remote or quiet places from a camping locations. Full service is nice to have, but not mandatory in all locations. Living in CO we do a fair amount of boondocking in the mountains and we have 2 Honda generators if we need power. I'd appreciate your thoughts and recommendations. We may venture into BC but not sure we'll go there this trip since we want this to be relaxing and not hitting a new spot every night. Are reservations recommended for the campgrounds much like here in CO? I read the comments about the dog requirements and making sure vaccinations are up to date and food is in original bag/can. I also understand meat and fruit can be an issue going in and coming back. Passports are up to date so no issue there. Any other considerations, let me know. Thanks.

Allan
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:43 PM   #2
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We visited Jasper and Banff about 10 years ago. When we went, we didn't realize it was one of their 3-day-weekend holidays. I always said it was our worst vacation ever! The roads were crowded with crazy drivers. Be aware that it's Canada, not the US. I'm not exactly sure now to explain that. (For example, my sister's comment about the pretty money did not go over well with the park ranger.) The parks are more developed than in the US, but there's more of a "at your own risk" quality to them.

Things I remember that might help: 1) Take the toll road where possible. Less traffic. 2) Jasper is less crowded than Banff. I enjoyed it a lot more. 3) Hike to the tea house above Lake Louise. I'm not sure there's anything like it in our national parks. 4) The highway goes through one national park. You can't use the bathrooms without a park pass. You cannot buy a park pass there. So plan ahead.

As for crossing the border, you just never know what might happen. One time they took our deli roast beef. This was during the mad cow thing, I think. Another time they asked me if I had any marijuana. ??? I guess if your '76 Honda Civic has rust, then you must be carrying drugs.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:06 AM   #3
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We went into Waterton last year. It was beautiful and expensive. We stayed in the park campgrounds, and just did some poking around. Didn't go any farther into Canada.

Be sure your dog has a recent exam and proof of shots up to date.

Waterton Townsite is very, very pretty, with spectacular views. If we were to go again, we would likely spring for a campsite for a week or so in the large, full service campground there, where you can walk or bike into and around town.


Maggie
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:56 AM   #4
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Waterton/Glacier is nice and I concur that Jasper is a bit more easy going than Banff, but by late August all parks should be a bit quieter. If you go to Jasper via. Banff, the Columbia icefields parkway is scenic.

On your way back down toward the border, you could take highway 93 through Kootenay National Park and spend a day or two at Redstreak or McLeod Meadows Campgrounds and check out Radium hotsprings. Lots of Bighorn Sheep in the area and the hotsprings pool will zap any aches out of you!

As others have said, fruit, veggies, meat, etc. will not will not be allowed into Canada. I'll also mention firearms (if you are travelling with any) - go on the Canada Customs website for information about what is required for prohibitions, permits, storage, etc.. You don't want to get caught sneaking ANY firearm into Canada...

Happy & safe travels!
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:21 AM   #5
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Quilter, Maggie and Kevin:

Thanks for the input. The Tea House sounds interesting at Lake Louise and we will check it out. The information on guns was new and thanks, as I am a CCP holder and will need to make arrangements to leave it with my daughter in MT. Any recommendations on campground locations. Do you happen to know anything about boondocking in Canada. Do they have similar rules like the USA on BLM or National Forest locations? We will definitely will be going to Jasper as we hear it is beautiful. As far a Banff I was there as a kid and it didn't do much for me then. The recommendation on staying in Waterton Lakes sounds pretty good too, as we may want to hang out there for an extended time and do some fly fishing around the area.

Cheers,
Allan
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:52 AM   #6
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Will be a great trip. We stayed at a provencial campground at Radium Hot Springs on the way up. Then to Jasper. I would go up to Jasper and stay a while and then do Waterton and other stuff on the way back. I am a fly fisherman of sorts. I did not find any flyfishing in the Banf-Jasper parks area when we visited. If you want water and electricity you probably ought to get a reservation at Jasper. It can be 33 degrees and raining there in July. The improved campground fills up. Was too windy for fishing, cold water, lots of glacial till in the water.
The Elk river towards Fernie is a great place to fly fish on the way up. Below Fernie is a parking lane about a half mile long where you can stop the Airstream and just walk into the river. I caught lots of brown trout the first day there and absolutely none the next, so I guess it is spotty. Other good rivers in that area. The Bow river is a great river to fish. But hard to access much of it without floating. I found a boat access spot on the noth side about 15 miles out of Calgary and fished a couple of hours. The trout were willing. But a float trip would be the ticket.
Went to Waterton on a different trip. Just rode up and back for the day. Beautiful.
I had some good fly fishing around West Glacier. Also Missoula. If you want to fish you could just stay there 2 weeks.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:22 PM   #7
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Enjoy your visit, eh?

We've stayed at the main campground at Lake Louise and the townsite campground at Waterton Lakes. I would describe them as developed, especially the latter, but it was right on the lake and an easy walk to town for dinner, shopping, &c. The Lake Louise cg had a lot of vegetation screening and wasn't too urbanized.

The main Canadian holidays are Victoria Day weekend (always the last Monday in May), Canada Day (July 1), a kind of weird provincial holiday on Aug. 1, and then Labour Day.

I would suggest cg revs. if you are on a tight schedule for the high season. If you go on-line for the parks, you'll find the revs. service. These park cgs are also loaded with European tourists, who rent RVs for their summer vacations. If you don't have reservations, for sure arrive early.

Canadians where we live (close to the US border) routinely go grocery shopping in the US because the prices are cheaper and groceries are duty-free. (Ditto on gas-- fill up in the US!) Just once, we had to sacrifice some strawberries coming back. I would suggest checking out the Canadian and US customs websites before you leave, as the list of allowed and prohibited foods does vary, depending upon whatever agricultural problem worries them at the moment. This also applies to pet food. For some reason lamb-based dog food is not allowed.

Your dog will need an up-to-date rabies certificate. We've only been asked about it a few times.

If you would normally carry your own campfire wood, please don't try to take it across the border. Due to the western bark beetle infestation, both countries will make you take it back.

We have had the Bambi searched a few times at the US border. Once they were looking for illegal immigrants. The other time, I think the official just wanted a look-see.

The Columbia Ice Field is well worth a visit, but often very cold up there.

If you like hot springs, there are several to choose from.

We hiked to the tea house above Lake Louise this past summer. I would suggest being in moderately OK physical shape and going earlier in the day, as the trail had a lot of people on it when we took it (mid-afternoon). There are many day-hike trails of varying difficulty levels to less visited lakes.

The grand old hotel at Lake Louise is well worth a visit, expcept that when we were there, there were a lot of busloads of tourists.

Most of the shops will probably take American money, but you might keep a stash of Canadian coins (loonies!) for things like laundromats, tips, and possible parking meters in towns.

But this is definitely world-class scenery-- no doubt about it, and I can hardly fault other tourists from wanting to enjoy it, also. What a great way to celebrate your anniversary!

Have a great visit.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:54 PM   #8
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Sorry, folks-- Victorian Day weekend (aka "the long weekend") is the one before Memorial Day.
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