Author Topic: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)  (Read 2320 times)

GreenSheep

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Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« on: October 20, 2016, 03:07:36 PM »
Well, it would be cheaper if we went in January and stayed in tents, but... I'm meeting up with a Canadian friend in Calgary next summer, and we're going to rent a small RV and explore Banff, Jasper, and the surrounding area. We'll be grocery shopping and making our own food, and we're still deciding whether to pay the daily park entrance fee or get a Discovery Pass, but what about where to park this gas-guzzling beast for the night?

Preliminary research indicates that campsites are not always easy to reserve and are not terribly cheap. I've never done the RV thing before, but when I've done road trips with car/tent camping in the US, I've often stayed at campsites that are just outside of national parks, which are cheaper and easier to reserve. Do any of you Canadian Mustachians (or those who have traveled there) have any tips on where to camp? Any thoughts on specific places to see, whether in the parks or near them, would also be very much appreciated.

BigHaus89

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2016, 03:18:38 PM »
Look for campsites around Canmore. This isn't in the Provincial park and should be cheaper/easier. You will have to drive a bit every day to get places, but staying in the park, like you said, can be quite difficult and expensive. I went there in September and stayed with friends west of Calgary. We drove an hour each way daily to go do hikes and such.

The ice fields are awesome. Jasper is a little less crowded than Banff. Lake Louise was really cool and REALLY crowded until you start the actual hike to the teahouse.

paddedhat

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2016, 03:37:27 PM »
We have been to Banff, mid-summer, on several occasions and never had issues with finding a campsite. Last summer we got an RV site at Tunnel mountain, mid-afternoon, and without reservations.  I'm not sure where your metrics are when it comes to "expensive" camping, but at the moment their website quotes $27.50 a night, which is less than $21USD, and pretty darn cheap, when it comes to a campsite in a highly desirable location.  Looks like the half hour drive to Canmore  might find slightly cheaper camping, but the cost of driving, and the possibility of sitting in a traffic jamb, would be deal breakers for me.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2016, 03:38:45 PM »
If you can get a campsite in Two Jack Lake, go for it!

Camping by Lake Louise gives you earlier access by the crowds, but more difficult access to the township. 

Pack food. It is expensive and limited in LL and Jasper.

We book first day of the season to get the best sites, but it's always easy to find a site if it isn't a holiday.

db_cooper

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2016, 08:16:39 PM »
We reserved a week of campsites in Lake Loiuse and Jasper one week before going around Labor Day.  All were low $20's range per night and close to the goods.  I thought the online reservation and prices were great, with electric hookups and nice showers.

We took food and only bought fresh veggies and beer while there, never ate out.  Gas was by far the biggest expense.


Leisured

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2016, 05:19:02 AM »
In 2010 DW and I hired a car and toured the two parks. I do not remember hotels being unusually expensive. It is about 200 km from Banff to Jasper, so it makes sense to stay in the parks. The parks are so magnificent that it is worth spending money to see them.

Must do: Athabasca ice sheet, and take a ride on a six wheel drive bus, with tires shoulder height. Lake Maligne. You might have seen legendary pictures of tiny islands with fir trees, and this spectacle is only accessible by a boat which takes you to the far side of the lake. Either $50 each, or $50 for two, I cannot remember. Take the boat! Lake Maligne may be the most beautiful lake in the world, and there is no road round it.

Wildlife is tame, and sometimes you will come across a line of cars parked along the side of thee road, as a bear or something else ambles in clear view. We saw an elk walking in the outskirts of Jasper.  Part of the Trans Canadian Highway passes through the park, which is fenced off from the highway, and every 5 km or so there are short tunnels with earth piled over them. They are safe crossing points for wildlife. It took me a while to work out what they are.

People are quiet, thoughtful and well behaved. No pounding music.

Canadians say you cannot drown in Rocky Mountain lakes; you die of cold first. Such wit.


GreenSheep

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2016, 09:24:58 AM »
Thanks, everyone, for your help! I'm excited to go back to Canada. My two past visits have been for mostly non-outdoor stuff, so it will be fun to see its more natural side. I'm saving all of these replies and sending them to my friend (who lives in Canada, but nowhere near Alberta) so we can make plans!

nawhite

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2016, 12:36:53 PM »
Canadian national parks will be free for all of 2017 because of the 100th anniversary of the parks system so you won't have a need for an annual pass or a day pass. We camped in Jasper at the closest campground to town and really liked it. They are amazingly cheap. We also stayed at a free spot outside yoho national park we found on freecampsites.net

Here is our blog post with our experience. https://therecklesschoice.com/2016/09/09/oh-canada-adventures-in-banff-and-jasper/

GreenSheep

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Re: Banff and Jasper on the cheap(ish)
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2016, 12:05:46 AM »
Canadian national parks will be free for all of 2017 because of the 100th anniversary of the parks system so you won't have a need for an annual pass or a day pass. We camped in Jasper at the closest campground to town and really liked it. They are amazingly cheap. We also stayed at a free spot outside yoho national park we found on freecampsites.net

Here is our blog post with our experience. https://therecklesschoice.com/2016/09/09/oh-canada-adventures-in-banff-and-jasper/

I can't believe I didn't come across that in my online research! Thank you! I just glanced at your blog, which looks fantastic, and I'll dive deeper when I have more time.