I went to the Canadian Rockies in June 2010. Undoubtedly it was the best trip of my life. Jasper is the best place I have ever been to. There is so much to see and explore in Canada, I don’t see why I would ever want to explore any other country.
Two of us flew on the morning of June 9th to Saskatoon, met up with our third comrade and drove to Banff. Maybe it was the jet lag consuming me, but the drive through Prairies wasn’t fun at all. And it was raining cats and dogs. It was already getting dark when we reached Calgary and by the time we reached Banff it was 11 pm. The next day we took the Banff Gondola (MUST) to the summit of Sulphur Mountain and hiked down for several hours. The upward climb on Sulphur Mountain is very steep and you must be in excellent physical condition to hike up (we did not see anybody else hiking up). We had to, because our car was parked at Banff Gondola’s parking lot and we weren’t sure where we will end up if we walked all the way down. But when you have the company of good friends everything is fun. The scenery was ravishing and you will see nature unfold in more ways than you can think of.
That night (June 10) we cooled off by going to a club/bar at night. The next day (June 11th) we took a detour and drove to Kootenay National Park and I strongly recommend that you take this road trip. On the same day we saw Lake Louise on the way to Jasper. Breathtaking, that’s all I have to say about Lake Louis. One thing I regret… we chose not to canoe on Lake Louise (costs $50/hr). Please don’t miss out on this opportunity.
On the 11th evening we reached Jasper (Pine Bungalows). We heard some bad reviews about this place, but since it was the only place fitting our budget we chose to ignore those bad reviews and I can’t be more happy with our decision. The place is neat, tidy, well-organized. The housekeeping staff is great and there is a lovely dog called Zack. Those bad reviews were from dimwits who pick on the smallest discrepancies. I give Pine Bungalows 4.5/5 (they could have better heating in the cabins).
Jasper is heaven on earth for me. Caution: Wildlife is everywhere and you have to be very careful when driving. Make sure you read Park Canada’s website on bear alert. We went at the prime mating season for black bears and grizzlies. The bear watch website was enough to put our hiking plans on freeze. But you can still go on more populous trails like the Maligne Canyon trail. Remember, bears don’t really climb mountains (i think). Albeit at altitude, this trail is mild and anyone can do it. If you want to do white water rafting, you have to go in July. We were not able to do it due to low water volumes in Athabasca and other rivers. Another MUST DO is soaking in the Miette Hot Springs.
We drove back to Saskatoon on the 15th, via Edmonton. What a trip it was. And my bags will always remain packed for this trip.
1. Take warm clothes. The altitude makes it a lot cooler.
2. If possible drive to Jasper via Banff. Which means, fly to Calgary first. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the drive from Edmonton to Jasper to be a 2.5 when compared to the drive from Calgary to Jasper (score of 10).
3. Book your hotel early. The peak season starts mid June, not July.
4. Before going on a hike, check Park Canada’s bear watch for the area.