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Author Topic: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers  (Read 1097 times)

vetmom

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Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« on: May 19, 2018, 03:23:15 PM »
We will be heading up into Canada, Banff and Jasper National Parks, for our first time this July.  We will be in Glacier end of June beginning of July so first question is best route, will be on the west side so should we go 93 or go around to the east side and head up 2 or 22?  Right now we also don't have reservations, it looks like I can get a few days here and there still but I'm also seeing many Provincial Parks.  Are there any recommended near the National Parks that would be a good option and is it recommended to have reservations for those also?  We're just not very good at having a set plan so hard to know exact dates if we don't have too.  Thanks for your help!
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Dream Chasers

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2018, 09:16:47 PM »
We went to all 3 of these last July. All are very busy at that time as their season is so short.  Highly recommend you make reservations now. We came from the North, so we stayed at Glacier on the West side. We stayed in Columhia Falls. It was nice but next time we will try and get much closer. We stayed right in Jasper and loved it. Very convenient to bike to everything. At Banff we stayed at Spring Creek in Canmore. Terrible experience and will never stay there again and it is very far to Banff. We recommend trying to stay right in Banff to avoid so much driving.

All 3 parks are very, very beautiful and we will definitely return another time.

Enjoy and safe travels
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vetmom

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2018, 09:29:22 PM »
Thanks for your reply!  I guess I'll have to try to pin us down a little more ;) :).  Will be sure to stay away from Spring Creek!
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2018, 09:10:40 AM »
Jasper abounds with wildlife and has the best/most viewing opportunities of any place we've ever been in 20 years of RV living (including Alaska).

The entire area around Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise and Glacier are extremely crowded all summer and well into fall, so either have reservations or plan on finding your site early in the day. There is a high turnover daily at the provincial parks, so we found we could get a site at most if we were there and waiting in line around check-out time. Many more boondock sites and hook-ups available, though.
Gary
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jackiemac

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2018, 11:35:14 AM »
We will be heading up into Canada, Banff and Jasper National Parks, for our first time this July.  We will be in Glacier end of June beginning of July so first question is best route, will be on the west side so should we go 93 or go around to the east side and head up 2 or 22?  Right now we also don't have reservations, it looks like I can get a few days here and there still but I'm also seeing many Provincial Parks.  Are there any recommended near the National Parks that would be a good option and is it recommended to have reservations for those also?  We're just not very good at having a set plan so hard to know exact dates if we don't have too.  Thanks for your help!
We headed from Gardiner to Mary Lake and took the 2 which was a great drive. We then took the 2 to Flathead Lake and then on to Spokane. It's a beautiful road, quiet no particularly steep grades that we can recall. Driving through forests and by the river. Think it is part of Lewis & Clark route. Libby has a nice brew pub for a quick bite to eat and a growler fill.

We also drove to the Canadian border from St Mary and the road was good so that may be an option.

Hopefully others will have a good route for you.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 11:39:02 AM by jackiemac »
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vetmom

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2018, 05:56:32 PM »
Thanks Gary, that is what my husband is really looking forward too, lots of wildlife sightings!

Good to know about the Provincial Parks, will be looking into that.  Also sure don't mind boondocking so maybe we'll have to be doing some of that too.

Thanks Jackiemac, sounds like 2 would be the way to go.  Did you stop on your way up or do it in one day?
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jackiemac

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2018, 07:11:32 PM »
Thanks Gary, that is what my husband is really looking forward too, lots of wildlife sightings!

Good to know about the Provincial Parks, will be looking into that.  Also sure don't mind boondocking so maybe we'll have to be doing some of that too.

Thanks Jackiemac, sounds like 2 would be the way to go.  Did you stop on your way up or do it in one day?
We drove to Glacier from Gardiner in 1 relaxed day. Stopped a few times. The scenery is amazing! Flat land for miles then suddenly the mountains appear. You are in for a treat! Browning isn't a great place, we refuelled and headed on to St Mary. Plenty of places there to stay.... we saw a lot from there. We visited the Backslope Brewery in Columbia Falls, beer and food really nice.

You could consider staying St Mary side and touring in your Honda (quite a few campgrounds). If you do, the Two Sisters Cafe huckleberry things are awesome, and a nice steak place in Babb, the Cattle Baron Supper Club.  Also drive to Looking Glass Hill Road (49) and stop in one of the pullouts opposite Spot Mountain and you might see bears on the slopes or in the woods below, we saw 3.  Down at Many Glacier Lodge there were lots of  mountain goats up in the cliffs.  You do need binoculars to get a good view.  Well worth an early start to do the High line Trail even if you don't do it all, not difficult but 12 miles one way, bus takes you back to car.  We also walked up to the beaverponds near St Mary and saw 2 bull moose. Take bear spray wherever you hike!

Happy travels.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 07:25:34 PM by jackiemac »
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vetmom

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2018, 08:30:21 PM »
Thanks for all the great suggestions!  Really getting excited about going!
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ceedill

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2018, 12:06:53 AM »
the banns to jasper route is beautiful and lots of scenery, but a s Gary said very busy in the summer.  there are lots of places to camp along the way especially is you have  generator, and if you are willing to go off the beaten path a bit.  Canmore is only 20 minutes from the Banff townsite. I would recommend going about an hour west of Banff to Radium hot springs.  this is a favourite stop of ours beautiful place in all seasons. about 1/2 way between band and Jasper you go go east on highway 11 to Nordegg about an hour away, lots of hiking and scenery there also about an hour east of there is rocky mountain house, there is lots of camping there but getting farther away from the mountains.  there is a lot of camping South of the Jasper Townsite but can't remember campground names as we always go further west to Valemont, and Tete Jaune camping its about an hour West of Jasper, as far as routes the ice fields parkway(AB 93)is a narrow busy road, but also slower, you can go up the cowboy trail (AB 22) through Pincher creek Bragg creek Cochrane, Sundre and Rocky Mountain house. less busy a bit further away from wildlife more along foothills not the mountains, lots of campgrounds or short hauls off highway into boondocks camping areas. North of Rocky Highway 22 is not much for scenery, you could also go West into BC, you are still in the mountains with lots of scenery and wildlife as well.
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John Stephens

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2018, 07:49:38 PM »
I am planning out my next year's vacation at the moment and will be heading to the same area from the west side of Glacier. I'm wondering if you can use a credit card for your purchases and campground reservations rather than going through the cash exchange both coming and going and if so, will your credit card issuer calculate the exchange rate for you on each purchase. I would rather get around the necessity of cash exchange if I can.
John
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Alfa38User

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2018, 12:26:34 PM »
If the facility takes credit cards, you can use them but... You will only see the exchange rate calculation when you receive your credit card bill in the mail or online. It will be calculated by the issuer on each purchase, but not by the store at the time of purchase. 

I suggest you take a small amount of cash in $C just in case though. Many tourist areas will likely take American $, but that is not universally true.

The problem for us Canucks is that Canadian cash is often refused as 'funny money'  in most cases when not too far south of the border.

Canadian credit cards used at US gas stations at the pumps are refused as a US Postal Code is almost universally required these days. They do not seem able to verify our unusual Canadian codes at all. Never tried my USA card at the pump here in Canada but, generally speaking,  a postal code verification is not used here.  A chipped card should work fine.  Both will work fine inside at the cash.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 12:32:08 PM by Alfa38User »
Stu
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John Stephens

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2018, 12:10:01 AM »
Thank you, Stu, for the information. I hope to see you when you're in SW Florida this winter.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
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Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2018, 06:58:39 AM »
     Just be aware that when using a credit card in another country, virtually all credit card company's charge an additional service charge.  While it is not onerous, it does mean that it is more expensive than getting your Canadian cash at a bank on either side of the border.
     Do not forget to do the Royal Terrell Museum in Drumheller and nearby badlands/hoodoos, they are amazing.

Ed
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John Stephens

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2018, 10:11:27 AM »
Ed - that's good information. I had no idea banks charged a service fee for exchange transactions. Sounds like even though it might take a little time and effort, it will be worth doing a cash exchange after we cross the border.

I am completely ignorant about border crossings, having never gone through one. Can someone tell me the procedure when you drive up to the border in a Class A with a toad? Do you get out and go into an office to make your declaration or do they come to the coach? Do they enter the coach for an inspection or search? Do they use dogs to do so? I will be traveling with three dogs. What should I do with them if they want to enter the coach? Sorry if these sound like dumb questions, but I'd like to be prepared and know what to expect, especially concerning my dogs. I know I'll have to present rabies vaccination records for all the dogs and present my wife's and my passport and driver's license, but that's all I have found out thus far in my research.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

docj

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2018, 05:45:31 PM »
If the facility takes credit cards, you can use them but... You will only see the exchange rate calculation when you receive your credit card bill in the mail or online. It will be calculated by the issuer on each purchase, but not by the store at the time of purchase. 

I suggest you take a small amount of cash in $C just in case though. Many tourist areas will likely take American $, but that is not universally true.


Check with your card issuers to see if they charge for foreign transactions; our Wells Fargo debit card does, but none of our credit cards do.  The exchange rate is always the best available daily rate.

With all due respect, DO NOT get Canadian currency at a bank in the US; you will be charged atrocious fees.  It's much simpler to take your ATM or debit card to an ATM at a  Canadian bank (not one of those in a store or gas station).  The card will work fine. 

Your debit card will NOT work as a debit card when making a store purchase, but it will work fine as a Visa or Mastercard.
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Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2018, 07:11:42 PM »
     Don't bring any firearms unless prearranged, and then only long riffles.  You will be asked normal questions like where you are going and how long you will be in Canada.  The border officers are in kiosks similar to those on toll highways, you will be directed by signs which lane to enter, and some crossings have lanes specific for RVs.  You may be asked to allow them entry, but that is the exception, also they do use trained dogs to sniff out firearms or drugs, there too that is on exception basis only.
     Don't fret about it, it only takes a few minutes to get through customs.

Ed
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Alfa38User

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2018, 01:51:48 PM »
Quote
It's much simpler to take your ATM or debit card to an ATM at a  Canadian bank (not one of those in a store or gas station).  The card will work fine. 

Very true. Check your debit card for the "Interac", "Plus"  notations on the back. Using your US card on any Canadian BANK ATM that displays these symbols will allow you to withdraw cash very easily. They only dispense in Canadian dollars here in Canada. Do not use those cash machines found  at places that are not an actual bank.

If the Customs/Immigration officers wish to visit your RV, they will tell you where to park and probably ask you to get out first. Make sure you tell them you have dogs on board and they will instruct you on what to do.
 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 01:58:15 PM by Alfa38User »
Stu
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docj

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2018, 04:32:06 PM »
They only dispense in Canadian dollars here in Canada.

We spent the summer in Canada three years ago and used to go on a weekly basis to the local ScotiaBank ATM to get cash.  We'd usually ask for ~$600 in Canadian currency and then rush home to look at our Wells Fargo account to see how much that cost us in US $$.  It was kind of like playing a slot machine!

FWIW, if you are planning on spending a lot of time in Canada, I suggest opening a Canadian bank account.  It's totally legal for US citizens to have one and all they have to do to stay legal is report the account to IRS if it has >$10,000 in it (which ours surely never does!) Having Canadian debit cards ensured that there were no foreign transaction charges and that our card would be accepted virtually everywhere.  We opened our account with ScotiaBank which has (had?) free basic checking accounts for seniors.  When we would withdraw $600 at a time our only costs were a few dollars charged by our US bank for use of an ATM from another bank. 
Sandie & Joel

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Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2018, 05:07:13 PM »
Joel, if you have your account with Bank of America, you should be able to use the Scotiabank ATM without a fee, similarly TD has branches in both Canada and the US, and there may be more so ask your bank what their policies are.

Ed
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Pocket Rocket

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2018, 06:02:11 PM »
For Alfa38User, to use your Canadian credit card at an American gas pump, when asked for your ZIP enter the three numbers in your Postal Code in sequence and add two zeros (ie. T2B 5P7 becomes 25700). I was told about this by an American gas station owner.  It works for me.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 06:04:53 PM by Pocket Rocket »
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Hfx_Cdn

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2018, 07:12:01 PM »
/\  /\   :))  me too
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Alfa38User

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Re: Banff and Jasper National Park first timers
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2018, 10:23:45 AM »
Thanks for that info. I had heard that all zeros worked too, but it didn't for me. But no longer a worry for us, we ended up getting an American credit card with a USA billing address so it has not been a problem for years now.
Stu
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