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post #31 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by esmeadows View Post
Hi, Per. Good that you've collected lots of information so far. Some comments about your last post:

(1) Your requirement to stay on paved roads AND avoid crowds in Canada's top two most popular national parks in peak summer including a national holiday weekend are incompatible. If you stick to paved roads in Jasper and Banff during this period you will encounter traffic jams and complete lack of parking at popular sites like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon and Cavell Meadows. Parks Canada is now restricting vehicle access to many sites because of the intense overload of cars.

(2) International visitors should definitely see Banff and Jasper, but that requires advance planning for lodging. You should be booking campsites and hotels now for that time period. If you wait, you'll have very little or no choice. Campsites fill up fast and some of the largest campgrounds in the parks are closed this season for renovations, making the crunch even worse.

(3) Places like Kananaskis, Willmore and the Alberta front ranges offer scenic beauty equal to the national parks plus the advantage of solitude, but you will have to accept traveling on gravel roads.

(4) You will not find solitude, but you can access lots of multi-day backpacking opportunities from paved roads in the national parks. Just like everything else in the parks, backcountry campsites accessible from the highway will be completely full for that time period, so you must book ASAP.

(5) There are plenty of outfitters in the front ranges who can pick you up from the highway or hotel and take you on horseback or horse-assisted trips in Willmore or along the front ranges. Perhaps that could be an option. Overnight backcountry horse outfitters also operate within Banff and Jasper NPs.

(7) Backcountry lodges in the parks can be accessed from trailheads via paved roads. Their daily rates seem expensive, but prices are all-inclusive so you will have no other expenses. Meals are provided and quality is excellent. Skoki and the lodges in the Tonquin Valley offer exceptional backcountry hiking opportunities.

(8) Ray Rusmussen has some recommendation for lodging near Willmore. Some of these operators offer trailhead shuttles:

https://www.raysweb.net/willmore/pages/wheretostay.html

Hope that helps! Main point to emphasize ---> Banff and Jasper are FULL during peak summer months. Book early!

Scott


Hi Scott,

Thank you for your answer.

Such places like mentioned in this thread:

- Elbow Sheep Wildland PP.

- Devon lake

- Douglas Lake.

Accessed by paved roads, right? As I understand, there are more.

We are considering whether there is a possibility (have emailed them) to rent a car that has accommodation and kitchen. The car "The Escape Indie Camper" from Escape: https://www.escapecampervans.com/

That might be a solution, right?
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post #32 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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If it is still is too expensive to go to Canada, difficult to reach parks, there are no camping sites, etc., we can imagine other backup alternatives, plan b. For example to fly to Seattle and see parks around, or to Denver and see Rockies national park there, and maybe go to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. We have been to Seattle and Denver but could go back, cheaper flight ticket etc. Do you think we are better off to book tickets and go there or other places in North Amercia? I guess Yellowstone and Grand Tetons could be difficult too much of a popular and tourist season at that time?
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post #33 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 12:28 PM
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I haven't personally visited any of those locations. Devon Lakes (?) is a premier backcountry destination, about 2 day minimum from the highway. Random camping is allowed in this area, but you would need to book at least one night in a designated campground along the way. (Unless you're a maniac and can hike to it in one day, 30+ km, over three passes.)

The camper you've mentioned seems to permit use on "state- or county-maintained" gravel road, which would seem to permit use on virtually any road in the front ranges.

Scott

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post #34 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 01:37 PM
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If it is still is too expensive to go to Canada, difficult to reach parks, there are no camping sites, etc., we can imagine other backup alternatives, plan b. For example to fly to Seattle and see parks around, or to Denver and see Rockies national park there, and maybe go to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. We have been to Seattle and Denver but could go back, cheaper flight ticket etc. Do you think we are better off to book tickets and go there or other places in North Amercia? I guess Yellowstone and Grand Tetons could be difficult too much of a popular and tourist season at that time?

Unfortunately Yellowstone and the Grand Teton's will be just as crowded during this time. Backcountry Permits for places like the Teton's opened in January (maybe slightly later this year due to the shutdown). While they do hold back a few walk up slots (unlike Parks Canada) they are extremely hard to get. When we did the Teton Crest Trail in 2016 (we had booked in January), there was a huge line up for walk up permits (several folks who had been waiting since before dawn), while everyone managed to get a permit to go somewhere, some of these weren't for very desirable locations.


While there are places like the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana, or Jedediah Smith Wilderness in Wyoming with many, many, options for random camping. You'll be encountering the same kind of challenges as you would with the places like Wilmore listed above. Many of the more remote, less busy locations are only going to be accessible on gravel roads.


As folks have mentioned, the time you're looking at is the absolute PEAK of the summer vacation season in North America. Car rental agencies, hotels, tour operators will all be charging their peak season rates regardless of where you go. While it would be great to be able to just show up, meander around, explore and go where the winds take you, it's really not possible. If you don't plan, you'll likely be disappointed as you find hotels booked, campgrounds full and permits unavailable. I remember as a kid (before public campgrounds really took reservations) getting up before dawn so we could arrive at the campground as early as possible to line up for hours, waiting for sites to become available. My parents, walking around sites, checking tags, asking if people were leaving and setting up chairs to wait for them to pack up. In some cases we had to drive 100km to find an available spot.


I'd strongly recommend deciding on a location and starting to reserve sites and accommodation. With Alberta Parks 90-day booking window you still have time to look into and book front country sites, obtain backcountry permits (for non-random) and research random camping locations. There is lots of great camping (and backpacking trips) in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (just not random camping) and through Highwood Pass (all on paved roads). Lots of neat places to explore and camp along Highway 22 (which is also paved). I'd still plan for a few days in Banff to see all the popular spots, but you'll either want to book a campground (if you can find one), or hotel (which isn't going to be cheap). Canmore has some options, not sure the summer rates at the Stoney-Nakoda Resort, but we've stayed there during ski season and rates were reasonable.


If you choose Calgary, I'd recommend the following
  • Book several days (or even a week) at Elkwood Campground (Peter Lougheed PP) - Permit required. This is a front country campground, paved, and there are many day hikes are within a short drive.
  • Backpack into Three Isle Lake and Turbine (Peter Lougheed PP) - Permit needed - Nice alpine lakes on the continental divide
  • If you're ambitious, look into Backpacking Northover Ridge (Peter Lougheed PP) - Permit needed - Ridge walk along the continental divide, many claim it as one of the nicest backpacking trips in the Rockies
  • Drive through Highwood Pass through Longview and onto Highway 22
  • Check out the Bar-U Ranch on Highway 22
  • Camping around Oldman and Beuvis Lake (not sure which of these might be on gravel)
  • Check out the Frank Slide on Highway 3
  • Visit Waterton (see if you can find a place to stay or camp)
You can put a few days in Banff at the beginning or end of your trip


As an aside Banff and Yellowstone get 4 million visitors per year, Jasper and the Tetons get 2.5 million per year

Hope this helps
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post #35 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 05:38 PM
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Gravel roads: a lot of them are in good shape or: at least better than the warnings (they make sure the trucks can speed...). Maybe I had heard of this rule but forgot about it for a while or ignored it on purpose here and there... Smith Dorrien would be a gravel road I suppose, it's in a stage shortly before being paved. Other backroads are a bit rougher - it depends a bit on where you want to go, but at the moment I have no idea which rough road would be in the way...

There are still first come-first serve campgrounds in the National Parks - and even though PLPP is pretty I would not plan the majority of my first Rockies holidays there and further South. Waterton is still mostly closed - and even if it's open there are only two roads and a handful of hikes, often with logistical problems even for a day hike. And even though the campground in town is large it seems one really has to book this one.

The reservation for Lake O'Hara started - you have to call, could try at least, in June. Didn't I mention it: look for something you want to do and then you can build more around it. (it started with random camping and now it's about driving around with an RV - so maybe reserving a backcountry site is also not too bad. At the moment you can still build a trip to Berg Lake around Sep. 10th or, even better, 5 days or so later - which also shows that during this time it does thin out a bit. Would be one "appointment" and the rest can be found along the way or later - pick a few other spots you are interested in, the Devon Lakes - and two weeks are filled quickly. Labour day weekend should be handled with care. Ok, you said Aug. 19th - there is even an option for the Rockwall trail beginning of Sept., another possible appointment.

Last edited by Kokanee75; 04-08-2019 at 06:07 PM.
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post #36 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you kellymcdonald78 and Kokanee75.

So I read this: "When to visit Canada":
https://www.authentikcanada.com/holi...o-visit-canada

"September and October

When to visit during fall?This is what we call Indian summer, when the forests don their brilliant hues of red and gold and nature is in full splendour.

The weather is still very pleasant, especially in September, although evenings can be quite chilly. You might enjoy reading our "What to wear in summer in Canada?" section, which will help you plan what clothing to pack.

There are fewer tourists and prices are generally lower.

In short, it's the ideal time to take a Canadian vacation"


So would it be better for us to book in September instead do you think?
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post #37 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 11:05 AM
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Traffic does drop off dramatically after the Labour Day long weekend (Sept 2 this year). Kids are back in school and you shouldn't have a problem finding campsites during the week (weekends will still be busy). Larches will also be starting to change which makes some areas particularly beautiful. The only rub is that weather in the mountains will be more unpredictable. September weather can be awesome with summer conditions lasting into October. However, the mountains also typically get their first dump of snow in September. This was Sept 16 of last year in Kananaskis (Ribbon Creek).
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post #38 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kokanee75 View Post
Gravel roads: a lot of them are in good shape or: at least better than the warnings (they make sure the trucks can speed...). Maybe I had heard of this rule but forgot about it for a while or ignored it on purpose here and there... Smith Dorrien would be a gravel road I suppose, it's in a stage shortly before being paved. Other backroads are a bit rougher - it depends a bit on where you want to go, but at the moment I have no idea which rough road would be in the way...
I believe his concern is that technically you aren't allowed to take a rental car on any gravel road and can be held liable for any damages. This would rule out a lot of great, remote areas. Smith-Dorrien would be out, as would the Forestry Trunk Road 940
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post #39 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks good to know kellymcdonald78.


Yes, unfortunately, forbidden to drive on any gravel road for the car rental companies.
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post #40 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 05:29 PM
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You know, Canada is a very regulated country... but on the other hand it's often enough just not to think too much about it. ( the windshield - for sure they want to sell you the extra insurance. You can get a chip on Hwy 1. But they are usually small - the size that doesn't matter. Make sure you return the car fueled up - that's what they are looking for, I don't have the impression any other minor incidents count... make sure you examine the car thoroughly when picking it up, 1 out of 3 agents maybe tries to cheat a bit, but they are not very good at it - maybe renting from the airport is a bit different, with people who have to leave the country - but overall I doubt it. Just make sure they take you seriously)

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post #41 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esmeadows View Post
I haven't personally visited any of those locations. Devon Lakes (?) is a premier backcountry destination, about 2 day minimum from the highway. Random camping is allowed in this area, but you would need to book at least one night in a designated campground along the way. (Unless you're a maniac and can hike to it in one day, 30+ km, over three passes.)

The camper you've mentioned seems to permit use on "state- or county-maintained" gravel road, which would seem to permit use on virtually any road in the front ranges.

Scott

u only need to go over ONE pass and then you're into Devon Lakes. Not difficult at all
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post #42 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 02:54 PM
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u only need to go over ONE pass and then you're into Devon Lakes. Not difficult at all

Second this. It is doable in a day even via Fish Lakes (I did it) which is the long route, but there are 2 other ways that make day trips quite pleasant (Quickest via Quartzite col, usual approach for these going for Mt. Willingdon, but this is scramble with route-finding. Mosquito col woodenshoes has in mind is best option).


For newcomers to the area it would be a shame to skip Fish Lakes though. It is very nice area, well worth overnight stop and bit of exploring then out-of-this-world meadow walk next day by Moose lake to Pipestone Pass and beyond.


[Morning Shot of Upper Fish Lake, right by the campground]
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post #43 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Per View Post
When to visit during fall? This is what we call Indian summer, when the forests don their brilliant hues of red and gold and nature is in full splendour.
The weather is still very pleasant, especially in September, although evenings can be quite chilly.
So would it be better for us to book in September instead do you think?
Possibly, since it would be cooler with less biting insects. You should be aware that wildfires in BC are common with the worst season in 2018 and this can last into Sept. With smoke filled skies being a health hazard and limited views there can also be restriction on where you can travel. Unfortunately, this is something you should prepare for. This year, I am trying to get a lot of my hikes in early but in your case Sept may be a better option although the days are shorter.
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post #44 of (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 09:09 PM
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Hmmm, you're suggesting that Per scramble over Quartzite Col or Mosquito Col? Right. Maybe he could add a little extra travel insurance.

The official trail passes through North Molar Pass, Pipestone Pass and Clearwater Pass and is 30 km in length.

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post #45 of (permalink) Old 04-21-2019, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips guys.

So we are out late to book a trip, should have done it long ago if we had had the opportunity. But there is still cheap hotels/motels "just outside" Kootenay National Park and "just outside" Yoho National Park, Also in Revelstoke, there still seems good price hotels/motels. Also good motels outside Mount Robson, a According to booking.com

Also there still seems to be accommodation near Jasper National park.

There seem to be quite much backcountry places in both Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper to be booked. So I am thinking maybe we should do that?

Jasper: https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/Jasper%...mpsites%3fList

Banff, Yoho, Kootenay: https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/Banff,K...ckcountry?List

Would you recommend some of these places besides Kananaskis?

In Jasper, Jacques Lake, Geraldine Lakes and 2-cavell-lake, and in Banff for example, Egypt lake, Lake minnewanka, seems to be very nice I think.

I am thinking about Emerald lake too in Yoho National park. Could check out the place, rent a canoe, etc, and park the car right? Then also backcountry is available at Yoho Lake, 3,9 km, 1 h and 3 min hiking (according to google maps) from Emerald lake. That might be a good alternative, right?

Last edited by Per; 04-22-2019 at 05:00 AM.
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