Sign up for the trip here
As you may recall, it was suggested not long ago that I, being Canadian, and supposedly one with that land, look into a Rocky Mountain excursion north of the 49th parallel on behalf of interested BCO adventurers. Well, I've finally made some progress looking into suitable accommodations, sketching a preliminary itinerary and deriving some estimated costs in Yankee dollars.
We''ll be lodging, not camping, and the trip will consist of day hikes and other activities in the Banff National Park and surrounding area. The Columbia Glacier, not quite halfway to Jasper, is a must-see and worth a day trip, just for the scenery on the way, not to mention the tour on the ice field itself. Lake Louise, on that route just north of Banff, is also on the itinerary.
The trip will cater to hikers, with short scenic strolls, a few half day mountain walks, and hopefully one full-day exertion with some serious altitude gain for the more ambitious strider's/boulder scramblers amongst us. The group can split to do different events if necessary. There are scads of scenic drive-to locations of all kinds. A river raft trip is an option, as could be a few hours on rented mountain bikes on trail relaxed or extreme. Banff is home to all kinds of outfitters, tour guides, bus tour operations, a couple of hot springs.... even helicopter tours, although these are no doubt beyond the fiscal means of this expedition.
Banff has grown from the quaint little National Park Town I knew as a lad on our family summer vacations, into a major international travel destination, with countless souvenir, craft and art shops, boutiques, restaurants and other touristy fare. It''s also home to the Banff Center School of Fine Arts, where an evening concert or play could be enjoyed. Our first day will include an in-town orientation, gathering of provisions, and perhaps a ride up Sulfur Mountain on the Banff Gondola to catch our first Canadian Sunset.
And, being a National Park, it is also a wildlife sanctuary, where deer, elk, moose, wapiti, (a kind of caribou,) big horn sheep, mountain goats, and of course, bears, have first say. It''s not unusual to see a heard of elk grazing obliviously in the town square.
The Banff area is too mountainous for a real airport, so flights must be booked in and out of the Calgary, Alberta international airport, the closest city, 90 miles east of Banff. Air travel arrangements will be up to the individual(s), and fares can range from $400 -800, depending on the season, days of departure and arrival. So happy hunting. All we have to do is all arrive in Banff on the 18th, if possible. We will have a pre-trip meeting so that everyone has a chance to meet other folks that are going on this trip and so that we can start to get the shuttle/rental arrangements coordinated.
There are a couple of frequent shuttle bus options from the Calgary airport to Banff. I''m thinking that we should shuttle from the airport, and rent a couple of minivans in Banff for us to use and share the costs of. Then shuttle back to the airport for the departing flight.
We are booked at The Inns at Banff, which has an Executive Cottage suite that will sleep up to 12, or 8-10 max, realistically for us. It''s a suite with 5 separate bedrooms, (5 queen beds, 2 twins,) 3 bathrooms, a full kitchen, large dining table and spacious living room with fireplace. Additional large 3 or 4 bedroom suites are available should we fill the first suite.
The cost per person for LODGING should be about $475 each - we will adjust this according to the # of RSVP's - you are paying a deposit here for your lodging. Deposits are refundable up to 30 days in advance. Final payment for lodging will be taken 30 days prior to the trip.
Other estimated costs per person that will be shared (for 10 people):
- Car rental: $180 (2 mini vans? This may change)
- Gas for the above: $50
- Park entry fee (for week): $32
- Groceries: $75
Other individual costs:
- Airport shuttle: $100 return
- Meals out $200 (est)
- Events & activities, (Ice Field tour, gondola, rafting, hot springs, etc, variable): $150-200.
Total: $1300 minimum, plus air fare. This is probably low: there's no way I could be thinking of everything. But it's a good indicator of likely minimum costs.
We''ll be able to prepare our own breakfasts and pack lunches or snacks for most of our daily activities. We will cook a few dinners at the house and sample the local culinary offerings a couple of evenings too. Not to mention the alleged Canadian Rocky Mountain Night Life... whatever that is these days. Hey, I've been away a while...
We are looking for firm commitments to get this project off the ground, as there are deposit requirements and cancellation policies to deal with in booking these cool places. Please let me know if you are interested. I will keep you posted as we get the final details mapped out.
Pay your deposit on the MARCH 30. 2012 event page