Thinking about a road trip next summer. I realize in a perfect world we would do both, but if we can't, which would you recommend for a family of 4: mom, dad and 2 kids (10 and 13)? Thanks.
The drive between the 2 is spectacular especially north of Lake Louise. I would choose Banff and explore the area.
Both are gorgeous. The last few times in Banff, it seemed like each person needed a reservation to walk about town...CROWDED.
You haven't said where you would be starting your trip from, however, I would say beautiful Jasper National Park is more "family friendly" than Banff, if you have to choose between the two. Jasper is a 4 hour drive west from Edmonton.
Jasper has numerous outdoor activities, wonderful campgrounds, and log cabin type accommodations (with kitchens), some adjacent to rivers, that are ideal for families with kids in that age group. We often stay at Becker's Chalets and there are always plenty of families around with safe outdoor areas for the kids to expend their energy.
Here's a blog with examples of some things you might find in Jasper --- a more laid-back, less crowded area, than Banff, IMHO.
The Icefields Parkway is best enjoyed on a day-long excursion with many stops - driving from south to north gives you more glacier views, but the other direction is also beautiful. Don't rush the trip - there is much to see!
Edit: Ever since I was a child (which was long ago LOL), Lake Annette and Lake Edith (four miles from Jasper town) have been favourite swimming lakes - they are both shallow enough to warm up decently on summer days - you can't beat the scenery either! How many can go home and say they swum in a Canadian Rockies mountain lake?
Where will you be coming from? If you are coming from the South, like through Glacier National Park then you will want to visit Banff. I prefer Banff which is next to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. If you go to either area it is best to go early in the morning to avoid crowds. If you visit in the Summer the crowds can be overwhelming. The best things to see in Jasper are Athabasca Falls, Maligne Lake and Edith Cavell glacier. I hope that you can find a way to see both Banff and Jasper. They are both spectacular. Glacier National Park is also beautiful, but it has had some wildfires this summer.
Try to do both! We did both areas a few years ago, both so beautiful! I know you asked for one area, though, so would also vote for Banff if I had to choose. Lake Louise is just so lovely!!! It was very busy when we visited, think it was in late July or early August about 4-5 yrs ago. We had a great time visiting this amazing area! Enjoy!
if you are coming from Maine, by the time you have gone that far, do both!
Actually, coming from Seattle (family in Maine means we travel there at times). I think we'll skip Glacier, as we did that years ago. Thanks for the input.
which would you recommend for a family of 3: mom, dad and 2 kids (10 and 13)? Thanks.
Umm, so who doesn't 'count'?
It would help if you indicated how much time you have for the trip and had given your origin point in the original post.
How much time do you have?
We did a wonderful 4 day three night bus tour from Vancouver and visited Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise.
Whoops, family of 4. Driving from Seattle and probably have less than 2 weeks total.
Just a thought
Glacier could be a 'drive through (or one night)' just to have a different way home
Interesting and enjoyable problem. We have made the trip from Vancouver several times from Vancouver either destination can be done in one long day, which I do not recommend. Banff is closer, but still a push.
If you can do both by doing a loop. Seattle to Jasper, down the Icefield highway to Banff.
Both are beautiful, but different. Jasper is more relaxed and if you go there you can see Mt. Robison.
Banff is a tourist trap, but beautiful. Have a drink at the Banff Springs Hotel to see the view.
If possible squeeze in Lake Louise on the way back.
Two weeks is enough time to see it all.
However, if only one place go tomBanff and and Lake Louise.
Both are beautiful, but I'd default to Banff if you have limited time.
We had a long road trip in 2006, seeing the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, and which ended in the Banff/Jasper area. Banff was very crowded, and though beautiful, the town was very touristy and we only stayed 2-3 hours walking around the lake. We drove on to Jasper (lovely drive) and stayed in one of the park cabins. It was peaceful, beautiful and a balm to the soul after the crowds in Banff. This was right at the beginning of June, so it wasn't the busiest time yet. We sat by the lake to watch the sun go down, then went to a comfortable nice restaurant in the small town, and went to sleep content with our choice to stay there rather than Banff. Lake Louise, although lovely, is just too busy.
My friend and I did both Banff and Jasper in 8 days, though admittedly we spent more time closer to Banff than Jasper. Most of the best spots we saw were on the Icefield Parkway (the highway connecting Banff and Jasper)
I prefer Jasper to Banff. Last time up we didn't even stop in Banff. I like the small town feel of Jasper as I sit here at work staring at a poster of Mt. Edith Cavell. I like to do more stuff up and around Jasper.
The best part of Banff and Jasper is between the two - Icefields Parkway and the numerous points in between Banff and Jasper and a side trip and a side trip on Route 1 to Yoho NP (Field).
Hi Cynthia. With 2 weeks you can easily do both Parks. I live in Edmonton and have travelled to the parks many times, but over the years we have fallen in love with Jasper. Banff is very, very busy, all the time, while Jasper is less so (although we have noticed a difference in the last 2 years). There are lots of great hiking trails and lakes near Jasper. The Icefields highway, between the 2 towns, is not to be missed either - spectacular scenery. Lake Moraine, near Banff, is now full every day, unless you are a really early riser, you will have to take a shuttle bus to see this iconic Canadian scenery. Take note, I don't know if you are camping, but the main campground in Jasper, Whistlers, is closed all of 2019 for refurbishing. This will place a lot more pressure on the other campsites and hotels in Jasper. I suspect that the vacancy rate will be problematic. I believe that the campsites can be booked on starting January 8th, 2019, at 8:00 am Mountain Standard Time. Be quick, the campsites will book up fast, especially with Whistlers closed.
We live close (relatively) to both and have been in Banff and Jasper many times. Spend more time in Jasper.... As other have said, Banff is really touristy, very crowded in the summer, and very expensive. Jasper is more laid back and not as crowded. There's lots to do and see. The Icefield Parkway road is amazing. Lots to see and do along the way. We just drove the road again two weeks ago and I never tire of the gorgeous scenery.
We did a road trip to the area in September with our travel trailer. I thought our 9 nights was about the right amount of time. We spent 2 nights in Banff, 3 in Lake Louise, 3 in Jasper, and 1 more in Banff on our way home. Jasper was my favorite town/village of the three.
I agree with the posters above, that you should have time to do both Banff and Jasper, as well as drive the Icefields Parkway, if you have between 1-2 weeks. As a first-timer, it would be good to see Banff, but as you can tell those of us who live near the Rockies prefer Jasper over Banff (by which I also include Lake Louise and Moraine Lake), as Banff is a victim of its own success and has become far too touristy for my taste. Try to be in Banff mid-week, at least you won’t have the city folk (like me) around adding to the crowds. If you are looking for more of a “nature” experience, then Jasper beats out Banff, as you truly get a feel for the mountains and being away from big city life. Your kids may prefer Banff though, as it is a more “happening” place with more to do, and they may find Jasper a bit too sleepy. I would highly recommend a stop at the Columbia Icefields which sits halfway between the two on the Icefields Parkway. You can take a tour to walk out onto an actual glacier. A special bus with the biggest wheels you’ve ever seen will take you out there on a short but thrilling drive. These fill up in the summer, so booking in advance online is recommended. I would suggest doing this, because the sad truth is that this experience may become no longer possible within your children’s lifetime. :*(
Whatever you choose to do, I hope you and your family enjoy the beautiful Canadian Rockies and have a great trip!
P.S. Seattle is one of my favourite cities in the U.S.