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Icefield Parkway

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Icefield Parkway

Old 03-09-07, 10:13 AM
  #1  
oldacura
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Icefield Parkway

I've just finished planning our trip this summer for a ride on the Icefield Parkway in Banff & Jasper National Parks in Alberta, Canada.

We did this ride in the summer of 2000. Decided to do it again while we are still able.

If you have never been to Banff / Jasper, this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I have spent most of my life in Colorado and I'm a Colorado bigot but the most beautiful scenery here would rate just average in the Canadian Rockies.

We're flying into Calgary, taking a Brewster's Bus into the town of Banff. Next day we will assemble the bike and ride to The Paradise Bungalows in Lake Louise. Next day we do sight-seeing at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake and then ride to the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake. Next day we ride to the Icefield Chalet atop Sunwapta Pass. Next day on to Jasper. We stay two nights in Jasper and then reverse the ride.

We're being lazy & having Brewster's haul our bag each day so we only have to carry with us the stuff for that day. We're riding about 60 miles/day with a total of about 360 miles.

The Icefield Parkway is a wonderful 2 lane highway with shoulders about 6' - 8' wide so you don't have to ride too close to traffic. When we did this ride in 2000, the traffic wasn't too bad. The scenery is jaw-dropping gorgeous.

If you want to see photos of the area go to Google Images & type in "Icefield Parkway", "Lake Louise", "Peyto Lake", "Moraine Lake" or "Maligne Lake", "Waterfowl Lake" or "Bow Lake".

If you're interested in setting up a trip for yourself, let me know & I can forward details.

John & Lisa Ellis - Lafayette, Colorado.
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Old 03-09-07, 07:51 PM
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We are jealous! We haven't cycled the parkway (yet) , but have twice vacationed in Banff & Jasper, along with some time in Yoho and Glacier and agree its one of the prettiest stretches of road anywhere in the world. We also stayed at the Paradise Bungalows...wonderful! We hiked, backpacked, and scrambled peaks to our hearts content. Hope you get better weather than we did the last time, however. We went the first two weeks in Sept. and had 40 -50F rain most of the time. The sun came out briefly for a couple day, and we could finally see the tops of the peaks. Still awesome though. Sept is definitely the fringe season.

Is the Brewster thing a standard package or did you arrange some sort of custom support from them? How many miles (kilometers) are you doing per day?
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Old 03-10-07, 10:14 AM
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I agree that is one nice ride. Nice province we have lots to see in every corner of the province, Colorodo rocks but what can I say BC if better.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:07 AM
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The Icefield Parkway is actually in Alberta, not Brittish Columbia.
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Old 03-13-07, 12:03 AM
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Of course your correct that the icefield parkway is in Alberta, but is seems like it should belong to BC as the rest of our province is so nice, and I live in BC I thought I would try to claim it.
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Old 03-13-07, 12:33 AM
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When are you planning to go? The traffic density, and availability of accommodations, varies with different times during the summer.

Don't forget to pack a variety of gear ... you can get snow 12 months of the year in there! If you're travelling in July or August, the likelihood would be relatively minimal, but it could happen, especially if you are planning to camp anywhere around the Columbia Icefields.

If you want photos, I've got some on my website (see signature line below). See the 2002-RM1200 link, the Brevet Stories link (anything with Fairmont, Golden Triangle, or Vermilion in the title), and the Photo Gallery link under Alberta Scenery, Brevets, and North America.

I currently live practically right next door to the Icefield Parkway, and plan to make several trips there this coming summer to do training rides. I have lived near some portion of the Icefield Parkway for approx. 24 years of my life, and there has rarely been a year in my entire life when I haven't been somewhere on it cycling, hiking, or something at some point!

And to relate this to tandems ... my third or fourth century was with my father on his tandem. We cycled from Saskatchewan River Crossing (on the Icefield Parkway) to Rocky Mountain House.


Here, let me pick a few photos out for you ...

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2006_GT400K_Train_small.jpg (68.0 KB, 15 views)
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Jasper1.JPG (89.7 KB, 21 views)
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LakeAnnette1.JPG (74.7 KB, 17 views)
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Mountain1.JPG (67.2 KB, 14 views)
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Sept2_Machka_Banff.JPG (80.2 KB, 41 views)
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Sept2_Machka_BowFalls.JPG (93.0 KB, 28 views)

Last edited by Machka; 03-13-07 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 03-13-07, 02:10 PM
  #7  
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We set this up ourselves. I found a similar tour through Backroads Adventures but it was quite expensive and we didn't need a support vehicle. We're using Brewster's to haul our bag from hotel to hotel. We did this in 2000 and a $10 tip to the bus driver got our bag to its destination just fine. Last time we did it in the 2nd week of August. This year we're doing it in the 3rd week of August.

I found that the key to lodging is getting a room at the Icefield Chalet and planning the rest of the trip around that. If you don't stay at the I.C., I don't think there is lodging for 60 miles north or south. We're planning on about 60 miles/day.

I found some Canadian bicycle jerseys online that I think I will order in advance.
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Old 03-15-07, 07:12 AM
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A group from our club will be departing (on single bikes, though most of us on this trip do have tandems!) Missoula MT on Aug 20 and hope to be in Jasper AB on Aug 31. We'll have vehicle/SAG support and take turns driving. I've already volunteered to drive the uphill parts. We'll be mostly camping, but plan on hotel stays in Lake Louise & Jasper. We have a really good group going. 12 or 13 riders, have ridden 1000's and 1000's of miles together so we're pretty used to each other. Really looking forward to it!
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Old 03-15-07, 08:53 AM
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If you go near Waterton, Ab., you should stop in for a meal or a drink at the Prince of Wales Hotel. The view is spectacular!
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Old 03-25-07, 09:59 PM
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Oldacura , this is very interesting and encouraging. I have never visited Banff or Jasper (even though I am Canadian citizen and have lived there for over 22 yrs) but have heard so many good things about the scenery. My wife and I have just started tandeming and was wondering how do you get your bike over there ? Will airlines allow you to take on such a long piece of luggage and how much does it cost to do so ? Any idea ?
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Old 03-26-07, 08:28 AM
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Ralston - the 1st time we did this (in 2000) we did it on a rented tandem that we flew from Denver to Calgary in a huge case. Getting the bike there was a big hassle. Others that post on this forum travel with non-coupled tandems and have figured out how to do it without much trouble.

We now have an S&S coupled tandem that makes travelling much easier. The whole bike fits into a couple of airline-sized cases.

If you have never been to Banff/Jasper, it is REALLY beautiful and the saddle of a bicycle is the best way to see it.
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Old 03-27-07, 06:27 AM
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Here is a write-up from our trip to the icefields parkway in 2000:
https://www.bicycletech.com/tandem_canada.htm
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Old 03-27-07, 08:06 AM
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Our 1st trip was iin August of 2000 as well (2nd or 3rd week). We also went to Waterton and I do remember the forest fire smoke. I don't recall getting rained on. I'm hoping our luck will hold this time as well. We won't have sag support except for the Brewster's Bus hauling our bag.
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Old 03-27-07, 06:54 PM
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I did this back in the 70s on an AYH tour. If I recall correctly we flew into Edmunton and took the train or a bus to Lake Louise, then rode to Banff (Jasper?) with a side trip up to the glacier on Mt. Edith Cavell. Half a day to ride up, half an hour to ride down. Seems like it was about a week or two of riding, we were traveling about 35 miles per day and there were hostels to stay in all along the route, and the bus would make a food drop for us every day or three. It did snow on us at least once, despite it being the middle of the summer.

https://www.explorejasper.com/sights/edithcavell.htm
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Old 03-28-07, 09:40 AM
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Randya -

There are hostels along the route that are by most accounts, pretty nice. I think the hostel also has a shuttle that can transport your stuff hostel -to- hostel. I also recall that they are spaced more closely and that gives you more flexibility in daily mileage.

If you flew into Endmunton, you likely rode south from Jasper to Banff.
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Old 05-28-07, 10:57 AM
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Altitude adjustment

I'm doing the ride this summer, but have never ridden this high above sea level. I currently live about 440feet above sea level. Will have 1.5days in Banff before I start riding. For those of you who have made similar changes in altitude to make this ride, did you feel more fatigued than usual in the early days of your trip?
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Old 05-29-07, 08:26 AM
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I don't know the elevation of Banff but I think it's below 5,000'. Sunwapta Pass - the highest point on the Parkway is below 7,000' (I think). Since we live at 5,000' it's not really an issue for us.
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Old 05-29-07, 08:43 AM
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7000 ft is not a problem comming up from sea level, you might not notice anything, or you might just be a little more out of breath on a climb, but not enough to develop any significant altitude problems. For most people disconforts don't show up till above 10,000-15,000 ft when comming from sea level.
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