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Old 07-25-2020, 12:08 PM   #1
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Glacier, Banff, Jasper - July or September?

There is so much good information here on these national parks, very helpful for choosing campgrounds, what to see, all that. We want to visit all these places either before or after the Alaska Caravan next summer, maybe spend 3 or 4 weeks. So that means mid-June/early July (crazy busy, according to those who've been there), or mid-September/early October. Less crowded is obviously better, but we'd probably have to hustle to get to Glacier before the campgrounds close. And snow is a concern by then. Any recommendations? Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:04 PM   #2
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We have enjoyed Jasper and Banff more in September, just a little less crazy. It will still be busy, you won't be the only one with that idea, but if school is back in that impacts visitor numbers.

Not sure what your route will be, but we regularly drove from Grande Prairie down Hwy 40 through Grande Cache and Hinton to get to Jasper, then the parkway to Lake Louise/Banff. Grande Prairie is just over from Dawson Creek, mile zero.

We live in Vancouver now, but have family in Calgary, so are through Banff every month or two. Ask away.

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Old 07-25-2020, 01:08 PM   #3
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After the 2018 Alaska Caravan we spent a couple of nights in Jasper, Calgary and then Glacier. We had a little snow in Jasper, but crowds were down and it was a great time to visit.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:20 PM   #4
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Hi Janice, If you are going to head to Glacier first, Are you going to travel stateside? Probably more highway choices down there. Then up into Alberta and west to Banff. There are few routes. Once you depart Banff, take the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.

Sounds like a great trip itinerary! I would certainly enjoy this route. We did this in parts on several trips. If you haven't been to Glacier before, the road to the top is quite something but leave the trailer at the trailer at the campsite.

You do have a short weather window when dealing with Alpine elevations. What Jeff said about the visitor numbers is bang on. It will still be busy in September. If you go earlier, you will run into the summer holiday kids and families so expect it to be packed in many places.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:37 PM   #5
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Try to fit Waterton in your itinerary. Glacier to Waterton, then highway 40 to connect to TransCanada to Banff/Tunnel Mountain campground.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:55 PM   #6
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Am I missing something? East side of Glacier, and the Canadian border, is closed to all non-essential travel.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:58 PM   #7
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Am I missing something? East side of Glacier, and the Canadian border, is closed to all non-essential travel.
Next year, 2021.

We don’t know that it will be open for tourists, but one can always plan.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:28 PM   #8
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We live in Vancouver now, but have family in Calgary, so are through Banff every month or two. Ask away.

Jeff
Jeff, well first, lucky you! Anyway, we'd like to find a place within an hour or two of Dawson Creek to relax, do laundry, clean the trailer, etc. before joining the caravan. Would Grande Prairie be a good place to do that? Can you recommend a campground? I like full hook ups if I'm scrubbing up the trailer, but that's not essential.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:38 PM   #9
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After the 2018 Alaska Caravan we spent a couple of nights in Jasper, Calgary and then Glacier. We had a little snow in Jasper, but crowds were down and it was a great time to visit.
Thank you, Richard. Good to know. Friends from our unit were on the 2018 caravan with you, sounds like it was fabulous! I am beyond excited about this trip but as Acheron pointed - it all depends on the border opening back up.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:41 PM   #10
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Try to fit Waterton in your itinerary. Glacier to Waterton, then highway 40 to connect to TransCanada to Banff/Tunnel Mountain campground.
I'll certainly try to do that. A lot of others have mentioned Waterton, and there are many other side trips and lesser known places that are popping up. There is always another interesting place just down the road.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:53 PM   #11
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Hi Janice, If you are going to head to Glacier first, Are you going to travel stateside?
Peter, I should have mentioned, we are leaving from Chicago. If we do this little excursion in September, should we still travel through the States to Montana and then hang a right? Google Maps sends us over the border in North Dakota, then through Sascatchewan and Alberta. I would like to see as much of Canada as possible because who knows if we will ever get back there again. Your advice is appreciated.
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Old 07-25-2020, 04:21 PM   #12
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I figured that you would be heading West from Illinois,

Sounds good, my sister and her family are in Southern Sask. they have been there for a few winters which start pretty early! You should wave to them as you cruise through their area

There is no question that the scenery you will see with be fantastic! Pretty flat in the prairies with a very big sky just like Montana so you can see some interesting weather systems building. The Rockies are spectacular!

In order to have the best opportunity to get some campsites, check the Provincial and National park websites to see how far ahead you can reserve and put those dates on your calendar. You need to be really quick as the sites get booked really fast quickly.

Where does the Alaska Caravan meet and travel to?
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Old 07-25-2020, 06:44 PM   #13
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Jeff, well first, lucky you! Anyway, we'd like to find a place within an hour or two of Dawson Creek to relax, do laundry, clean the trailer, etc. before joining the caravan. Would Grande Prairie be a good place to do that? Can you recommend a campground? I like full hook ups if I'm scrubbing up the trailer, but that's not essential.
If you are meeting up in Dawson Creek, GP is the best place to stock up and clean up. Grande Prairie is a regional distribution centre so has shopping and services far beyond what its population would suggest. Costco, etc, and all without Provincial sales tax.

We lived there, so never camped in town, but I recall the Rotary campground is convenient and was well regarded.

You could travel one way through Canada and the other via US 2.
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Old 07-25-2020, 09:41 PM   #14
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Thanks for the recommendation, Jeff. It looks nice, and I like the "no sales tax" part!
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:03 PM   #15
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Thank you Peter, I'll look for those websites. I don't have the full itinerary yet, but it meets in Dawson Creek, and I know we'll go to Denali and the Kenai Peninsula. Not sure about anything else, and honestly - it doesn't even matter! Alaska and the Canadian Rockies are legendary.
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Old 07-27-2020, 09:59 AM   #16
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Highway 16 as a return option

We have camped in Banff/Jasper 15 times, we prefer early Sept. We have been in snow storms in both July and Sept. We would cross the prairies on 16 instead of 1 as the scenery is much better.
One also has more choices for camp sites. September during harvest on the prairies can have spectacular weather.
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Old 07-28-2020, 05:02 AM   #17
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Make reservations for Jasper. Last year we stayed in the overflow lot - a just like camping in Seward. Gravel and not much more. Need full tank of water going in as there is none for trailer trash. Dump station is just south of town.

Stayed at a smaller campground near the ice fields. No problem getting a space in mid July. Again, no hookups.

While visiting Waterton last summer we stayed at Payne Lake Campground just outside the park. Nice quiet spot. My cousin from Lethbridge says it’s his favorite fishing hole.

Payne Lake AB Parks Campground
Unnamed Road, Mountain View, AB T0K 1N0, Canada
https://goo.gl/maps/jcpvSJpyLNzoexcP8
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:40 AM   #18
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Our maiden trip was from Arkansas to Banff for Labor Day two years ago. I was told it wouldn't be busy so we didn't bother with reservations. We got the VERY LAST site in all of BNP at Lake Louise. We had to move to another the next day but it was great. Lake Louise was a great spot, electric only. Never needed A/C. Barely got to freezing at night.




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Only wish we would've stayed longer
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:53 AM   #19
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We have camped in Banff/Jasper 15 times, we prefer early Sept. We have been in snow storms in both July and Sept. We would cross the prairies on 16 instead of 1 as the scenery is much better.
One also has more choices for camp sites. September during harvest on the prairies can have spectacular weather.
15 times! Lucky you! Do you think mid- to late- September is too late? Our caravan ends in Prince George around Sept. 13. I would like to spend a week in each place but that might be pushing it.
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Old 07-28-2020, 08:04 AM   #20
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Make reservations for Jasper.

Payne Lake AB Parks Campground
Unnamed Road, Mountain View, AB T0K 1N0, Canada
https://goo.gl/maps/jcpvSJpyLNzoexcP8
Agree about reservations, I'm researching campgrounds now. And I'm trying to sort out the booking windows. Anyway, thanks for the tip about Waterton. I will definitely check it out.
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