Last Visit: Sep 2018
Stayed: 9 days
Suggest Staying: 1-2 weeks
Transport: Plane, bus, train, taxi, rental car
Highlights: Mountains, hiking, lakes, glaciers, wildlife
Suggest Staying: 2-4 days
Stay Around: Downtown (Jasper Downtown Hostel)
Highlights: Mountains, meadows, hiking, wildlife, winter sports, hot springs
Suggest Staying: 2-5 days
Stay Around: Canmore
3. Waterton Lakes
Highlights: Lakes, mountains, hiking
Suggest Staying: 1/2-2 days
Stay Around: Waterton
- Lodging: $885 (AirBnB, hostel)
- Transportation: $886 (rental car)
- Activities: $77 (Canada parks pass, hot springs)
- Food: $550 (estimated $50/day)
- Planning. Due to the unpredictability of the weather in the mountains, I would suggesting budgeting at least an extra day as buffer in case there is snow or rain. If weather is good all days, you can do more or be more leisurely with your activities and spread them out.
- Cost. Alberta is pretty expensive, especially when it comes to food. Both Jasper and Banff had a high cost for accommodations, and meals were anywhere from 25% to double what I'm used to paying in the U.S. for something similar. So just be aware and budget accordingly.
- When To Go. I went after U.S. Labor Day in September which is the shoulder season. I thought it was great because you have less crowds, cooler temperatures, and before inclement weather approaches. You may even get lucky and get some light snowfall that makes the area even more spectacular but doesn't result in road closures. You also get the beautiful fall foliage and variety of colors. I imagine summer would allow for more boating and warmth for outdoor activities.
- National Parks Pass. If you're going to be exploring the national park system in Canada for more than 7 days, it's worth getting a national parks pass for less than $60 and is good for a year. You can purchase at any national park or online
- Glaciers. Glaciers are actually many thousands of years old ice which has been densely forged over time. As a result, what does not melt, slowly moves down the mountain on which it is perched, beautifully sculpting the sharp tips you see along the Canadian Rockies. Once that snow and ice melts entirely, the glacier is no more and you are left with just the mountain
- Emerald Lakes. I found it interesting that all glacier fed lakes have a very fine layer from the silt for which all colors are absorbed by light except for the beautiful emerald green you end up seeing. The color also changes based on your vantage point (looks more green from up higher). These emerald lakes are everywhere in Alberta. It's kind of amazing.