I'l be heading to the Canadian Rockies in late June; am only just now starting research, and am a bit overwhelmed with possibilities. I've had Banff and Jasper recommended to me as places to absolutely not miss, but that's about all I know.
If you had two weeks to spend in that region, where would you base yourself?
My ideal would be to stay in two or three locations, going from one to the other. What's the hiking and infrastructure like around there? Are there any towns where the hiking starts right there, so you don't first need to drive somewhere else, or does the best hiking start in the middle of nowhere? Are there perhaps any places where there's frequent shuttles going back and forth between a town and the start of other trails? (I'm thinking of Yosemite, where there's shuttles going from the Valley to Glacier Point.) In between shorter hikes, I tend to want to go on epic 8-9 hour hikes every so often, which my girlfriend really doesn't want to do, so it'd be awesome if there was a place to base ourselves somewhere we there'd be plenty of rewarding 3-5 hour hikes, and the possibility to easily head out further afield to one mountain top or the other, without needing to first drive somewhere and thus make the logistics of it all much more difficult. Super extra bonus points if such a place was also in a town with a decent selection of dinner options and maybe a few non-hiking things to see or do for variety.
Recommendations for specific hostels, B&Bs, or even hotels to stay at would also be appreciated, as would recommendations for lesser known locations in and around the rockies to visit. (We're thinking of heading quite a bit further north after those two (?) weeks in the Banff / Jasper region.)
Hi there, I haven't been to Banff in a long time but I understand it's a fair bit bigger and busier than Jasper. I went to Jasper not long ago, coming in on the train (best ever!). I stayed at the HI Jasper which was one of the best hostels I had ever stayed at. It's spacious, bright, clean with multiple kitchens (open concept/new) and is based at the bottom of a mountain. The first night we chopped up some wood (provided) and had a big bonfire with a bunch of people from the hostel. There is at least one if not more hiking trails in walking distance to the hostel. I'm sure you could research and find out more. Then is one pretty significant hike up the mountain nearby - very rewarding views but can get a bit steep. But if you take your time it's quite worthwhile.
The only thing is that the hostel is just outside of town. I'm not sure if the hostel has a shuttle or if Jasper has taxi service. I'm sure there are taxis and it's just a short distance to town where there are cute little restaurants/shops.
There are other sites to see in the area but again you would need some sort of transportation. Maybe the hostel could help you with that or maybe there are more options.
For alternate places to stay in the Rockies check our Lake Louise AB, Canmore AB, Radium Hot Springs BC and Field BC (all these will have hiking options from the town). Degree of difficulty for hiking trails vaires widely.
I'm not sure you would find a single base of much value. A few days in each place might work.
Thanks for those suggestions! Amie, how was is "just outside of town"? (And how large is the town anyway?) Doable in 10-20 walking, or significantly more? (I'm assuming the former, in which case it sounds quite excellent - I'll definitely look into that one.) We're planning to have a rental car to get from place to place, but I dislike the idea having to rely on it for the basics.
Lake Louise is beautiful but a bit of a tourist trap and I'm guessing very expensive. From what I remember there is not much in the way of places to stay between Banff and Jasper. If it were me I'd research inexpensive places in Banff (as it's larger) and then set out on day trips from there.
Thanks, that's indeed the rough plan for now; going to spend a full week in Banff (booked a hostel already), and then some further days in Jasper (though accommodation there seems tricky). Still considering Lake Louise - might find it worth it to splurge for just 2 or 3 days.
That trip from Jasper to Banff was one of our favorites we've ever taken. You have to stop at Peyto Lake for a quick look. It really does look like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peyto_Lake
And of course the trip up the Ice Fields glacier is a must too.