I am renting a car with 2 others for 2 weeks to see Banff and Jasper and everything in between. I am wondering is 2 weeks more than enough and where should we spend most of our time. Is there anywhere else around that people would suggest as we have the time and transport?
Any advice is greatly appreciated
2 weeks is a very good time for a thorough overview, assuming you enjoy hiking - if you're not much for hiking, then I'd say it's perhaps a bit much.
I'd base yourself out of Banff town for most of that time - most places worth seeing in and around Banff National Park are within an hour from there. Then drive up to Jasper near the end for a few days there (3-4 would be plenty).
From Banff, go up to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake for at least two days, preferably four; besides excellent hiking, both also looked great for renting canoes. The lakeshore trail at Moraine Lake is gorgeous, and the hike to Larch Valley worthwhile. At Lake Louise I can recommend the Plain of Six Glaciers hike at least as far as the tea house. The hike at Castle Mountain is one of my personal favorites, though it's a hard and boring slog for two hours before you get to the payoff of Tower and Rockbound Lake. Horse riding at Banff is nice, as is a trip to Lake Minnewanka. I can also recommend a trip to Yoho National Park, which isn't much further than Lake Louise. Emerald Lake is gorgeous, and Takakkaw Falls very impressive. I didn't go to Kootenay or Mt. Assiniboine National Parks, but they too are within easy reach. Don't bother going to Calgary - it's an example of the worst kind of North American cities.
Jasper is more the National Park to go to for wildlife - where in Banff we hadn't seen a single bear, in Jasper we saw four, as well as several elks walking through town. I enjoyed the tramway up the Whistlers and the hiking up there (much more so than the gondola up Sulphur Mountain in Banff, though if you do end up doing that, avoid the boardwalk and instead hike the unmarked south east ridge trail on the other side of the restaurant). Maligne Lake is quite worthwhile, though be prepared for endless swarms of mosquitos. The Athabasca Glacier (on the road from Banff to Jasper) is quite impressive.
[ Edit: Edited on 04-Sep-2011, at 14:32 by Sander ]
Thank you very much Sander, this is great advice!
We visited Alberta a few years back. I actually preferred Jasper to Banff. It is much less touristy and there is much more wildlife. Also, don't miss driving on Icefields Parkway and walking on a glacier at the Columbia Snocoach Icefield. Peyto Lake is an amazing blue although we were snowed upon in June.
Around Jasper, recommended sights are Maligne Lake (take a cruise), Maligne Canyon, Miette Hot Springs (and the road to the springs), and Athabasca Falls. We stayed at Alpine Village and had elk wandering past our cabin.
Around Banff, I'd suggest the museums (Banff Park Museum, Whyte Museum, Cave & Basin Historic Site (take the ranger led tour if possible), and Buffalo Nation Museum) as well as the Banff Gondola on Sulphur Mtn (make sure to walk to the weather station if you can), Lake Minnewanka cruise, Bow Valley Parkway, and the Hoodoos.
Lake Louise is also beautiful for a visit.
We also did the Oh Canada Eh! dinner theater in Canmore. Corny but fun.