Travel to expansive national parks requires good planing to get most out of the trip. Here is our Banff/Jasper Itinerary (and adjustment due to weather)
Day 0: – Fly out of DFW in the Thursday evening to Calgary Canada, Stay at Best Western near Airport (note: save airfare when flying Thursday)
Day 1: – Drive to Banff in the morning
Johnston Canyon (Half day): 2.7 km one way, elevation gain 120 m, 2 hours round trip
view: waterfalls and glacier rivers
visit info centre.
Hike to Stanley Glacier (cancelled due to rain)
4.2 km one way, elevation gain 395 m, 4 hours round trip
Hiked Sulphur Mountains and Take Sulphur Mtn gondola down (added)
5.5km one way, 655m elevation gain
view: summit renowned for its breathtaking mountain views
Day 2: - Moriane Lake area and Lake Louise
Walk along the lake shore
Canoe in the lake (canceled due to weather related closing of the canoe rental)
Hiking to Larch Valley; 2.8km one way, elevation gain 465m, 3 hour round trip
view: unique larch forest high above Moraine Lake; breathtaking Ten Peaks.
Canoed on Lake Louise in the afternoon (added)
Day 3: - Lake Louise area
Lake Louise Lake shore and Plain of Six Glaciers
7.3 km one way, elevation gain 365 m, 5 hours round trip
View: glaciers, lake Louise from above
Tea house at the trail end
Side trip to Abbot Pass Viewpoint: 1.5 km one way; 50 m elevation gain; 1 hour round trip Look down into crevasses on the Lower Victoria Glacier, and look up to Abbot Hut, one of the highest buildings in Canada.
Lake Louise Ski area and 93A byway (added)
Day 4: - Drive to Jasper - Icefield Parkway and Columbia Icefield
Icefield Parkway - several glaciers/glacier lakes/canyons along the way
Columbia Icefield - tour icefield via Icefield explorer
Day 5: Mt Edith Cavell, Maligne Canyon/Lake
Hike Mt Edith Cavell: 7km one way, 500m elevation gain, 5 hour round trip
view: angles glacier, cavell glacier, alpine meadows
Maligne Lake (saw bull Elk on the way to and from it)
Day 6: Drive from Jasper to Banff
Hike Bow Glacier Fall trail: 4.6 km one way, elevation gain 155 m, 3 hours round trip
view: bow glacier, bow glacier fall (can reach the bottom of the fall), glacier river and bow lake
Drive Lake Minnewanka Loop - consider boat trip if weather is good (was late for the lake cruise)
Day 7: Drive to Calgary and fly home in the afternoon
visited Olympic Park on the way to airport
Banff and Jasper's glaciers are not as magnificent as Alaska; their wildlife - especially big animals are not as abundant as Yellowstone. The unique feature of Banff and Jasper is that everything is close to each other - glaciers, waterfalls, canyons, mountain peaks, glacier lakes, all packed along trans Canada highway 1 and highway 93. They are more beautiful and elegant than Alaska and Yellowstone.
The other feature of the parks is easy access to trails to mountain peaks - according to Lily's tabulation, we hiked a total of more than 55 km in the mountains, and had total of ~ 2500m elevation gain ! We did not climb mountains at Alaska or Yellowstone.