Category Archives: Ask The Mountain Man

Canadians flock to road bike Tucson, Arizona

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TUCSON, Arizona – When I head down south to the states I cannot get enough of road biking in the desert the Arizona desert.

Unlike here in Alberta, Arizona is very bike frielndly, blessed with what seems like unlimited roads with wide shoulders and/or low trafficked roads.  Do stay away from the geriatric drivers as they can be unpredictable.

Cycling Arizona and the wild west

Cycling Arizona and the wild west

I just got back from a press trip sponsored by Bike Tucson AZ. We biked over 120 kilometers from Amado, Arizona to Sasabe on the Mexican border. I savored the windy road to an old west style coffee shop, rubbing elbows with ranchers carrying guns in the their holsters  – just like the days of the wild west.

Click here for to view my ride!

If You Love Banff Whitewater Rafting, You’ll Love Durango, Colorado

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If you're looking for the thrill of Banff whitewater rafting somewhere closer to home, rafting in Durango, Colorado might be perfect for you.

DURANGO, COLORADO – I’m a rafting aficionado and I especially love rafting Kicking Horse River just outside of the Banff, Alberta. The Kicking Horse River gives you the chance to really live on the edge. This year will even be even more interesting with the some great mountain run off.

When whitewater rafting in Banff, Alberta, make sure to hook up with Banff Whitewater Rafting for a locally-led trip down the Kicking Horse River.

But when I head south and go to the Colorado Rockies, one of my favorite rivers is the Animas River in Durango, Colorado. Colorado is one of the best states in USA for thrill-seeking rafting, and Durango rafting offers varying class levels. For example, the Piedra River is especially gnarly, narrow and not for the faint of heart. If you want more information, head on over to DurangoRafting.org and see what the Durango Rafting Alliance has to say. Durango is a really cool college town with exceptional micro breweries. Check out Durango, Colorado on their live-streaming city and train cam.

Where do I go for Banff whitewater rafting? Well, hey, I get good deals since I am an esteemed blogger. For great Banff, Canada rafting packages, check out Banff Whitewater Rafting at 1 800 519 4770. You can go rafting with some killer Lake Louise locals named Ted and Liz. Ted and Liz are official providers for the Alberta Rafting Alliance. You can even get a live look at Banff, Alberta using their user-controlled webcam.

For more information on rafting in Colorado, check out ColoradoRafting.org and let your adventure begin!

The Canadian Rockies in September, and, of course, dogs

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Dogs and weather seem to be the subject of most Frequently Asked Question about the Canadian Rockies. The weather, well now that’s just practical, and smart. The weather in the Canadian Rockies is constantly changing, and, especially at high elevations, it’s been known to snow for almost no good reason, any time of year.

Wild wolf in Banff National Park

That's not your dog! That's a wild wolf, just one reason to keep your dog on-leash. Photo by John Marriott.

Dogs of course, are man’s best friend. Nothing reminds me of this more than the number of emails we get asking us questions about dogs, or all the times I get woken up by my dog at 5 am on a Saturday, and don’t get mad. Anyway, here are this week’s dog and weather questions:

From M. Rogers:

What are the rules for traveling and camping with pet dogs in the parks.

and B. Fread asks:

What is the weather like in Mid September in this area?
Are most of the attractions of this area still opened?

Regarding the first question, the first thing you need to know is: Bring a leash. The second? Bring a spare leash. Except for a couple dog parks, there aren’t many places in the Canadian Rockies parks, such as Jasper or Banff, where you’re dogs are allowed to roam without being tethered to their owner. This isn’t so bad if you consider that just south of the border, in Glacier National Park, dogs are hardly even allowed on leash… Anyway, you can get more from this Canadian Rockies dog FAQ.

As far as the weather in September, I’ll start out with the facts: In September, the highs in the Canadian Rockies (very generally) are around 16 C (60 F), with lows around 3 C (37 F). Beyond the facts: as I mentioned, the weather here is famously unpredictable, with snow storms dumping on you out of nowhere, especially in the high elevations.

But what does this mean to you? Mainly, be prepared. Most likely, the trails will be hike-able, especially in lower elevations. But they might not be if all you brought were flip flops, shorts and a T-shirt. Even if the worst weather does come, you can find plenty to do here. The Banff Gondola, for instance, is open year-round. And if nothing else, you’ll find some of the world’s best restaurants and shopping in the Canadian Rockies towns.

A tale of mystery and romance in Lake Louise

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This is one of the more interesting and fun Canadian Rockies questions the old Mountain Man has gotten in a

while. It’s regarding Lake Louise, and, I believe, the Chateau Lake Louise:

My wife and I are leaving tomorrow morning for a 1 week trip to Banff and Lake Louise. My Grandparents met at Lake Louise while working there in the early 1920’s. I would like to know what Lodge is the oldest or original to the lake as that is most likely to be the one my Grandmother worked at. I can’t seem to find anything online that would give me that info.

Thank you

Rod Friesen

The Chateau on Lake Louise is certain to have some romantic history.

Just to make sure I had my facts straight, I made a quick call to the friendly folks at Parks Canada, who assured me that in fact, the Chateau Lake Louise would have been around during the 1920s. Lodging of one sort or another has existed on the site since the late 1800’s. The oldest section of the Chateau Lake Louise still standing at this time is the Painter Wing, built in 1913. There is also the Barrot Wing, built in 1925, one year after the Rattenbury Wing burnt down.

The age is one thing that makes me think your grandparents may have met at the Chateau Lake Louise. The other is that, even as a Mountain Man, I have to admit that the Chateau is one of the most romantic places on earth. A couple of young folks meeting their for the first time are bound to produce grand kids some day.

Hope this helps out with your search. Enjoy the Canadian Rockies, and write in if you find out any more!

Letting your Dog Run Free in Jasper

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Jasper offers great vacation opportunities for dogs and their humans.

Today’s question comes from Jessica W.

Hi! I read about how pets must be on a leash at all times. Are there any off-leash parks/areas for dogs anywhere in or near Jasper?

Thanks,

Jessica

Jessica, we recently spoke with Thea Mitchell of Parks Canada, and asked her this very question. While dogs are required to be leashed on trails in the park, there is a great dog park you can take them to in the town of Jasper, where they can run wild and free. It’s Jasper’s municipal dog park, located on Pyramid Lake Road beside the Jasper Aquatic Centre and across from the Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archives.

For more information on vacationing here with your dog, check out this guide to vacationing in Jasper with a dog.

Hope that helps!

Canadian Rockies Weather: August or September Vacation?

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In my work as the Canadian Rockies question answerer in chief, I find the vast majority of questions people have about Canmore, Jasper, Banff and the rest of the Canadian Rockies center around two main topic. Weather and their dogs. I like that.

Banff National Park offers great hiking, with the warmest weather in July and August.

It shows vacationers to the Canadian Rockies have both a practical and sentimental side.

Anyway, today’s question deals with the first category: weather.

I am planning on visiting the Canadian Rockies next year. I am trying to decide between August and September. I like the warmer weather and longer days in August. I am afriad September may be too cool. On the other hand, is August busy with tourists? Possibly September may be less busy? Should I stay away from August?

It’s a good question. The first thing you should know is that these factors are variable. The weather in the Canadian Rockies can change abruptly. You could happen to come on some cold August days, or some warm September days. Also, you never know with tourism, numbers can change anytime. So I’ll give you the official estimates first.

In August, the highs tend to hover around 22 C (71 F), with lows all the way down to 7 C (44.6 F).

In September, the highs are around 16 C (60 F), with lows around 3 C (37 F).

These are the averages for the town of Banff, Alberta. The temperatures will be much cooler when you reach higher elevations.

Here’s my opinion on the original question. August or September? If you want to have the best chance of getting out and seeing the park, I would come in August. Yes, you may have to deal with more people in the parks, but you can try to buffer that by visiting mid-week. If you visit in September though, there is a much great chance that a trail you had planned on visiting in higher altitudes may already have a blanket of snow on it. Also, if you really want to avoid the crowds, talk to Parks Canada officials about where you might some of the less busy trails.

Canadian Rockies Camping Q&A: Fees

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Camping in the Canadian Rockies is certainly one of the best experiences you can have on a vacation here.

Feel free to write us with any questions you may have about camping in the Canadian Rockies.

Question from Michele S.

Is the rate on the campgrounds shown on
the website, per person or per campsite?

Camping in the Canadian Rockies is about as close to paradise as you could get.

Michele is probably referring to the rates you’ll find on our Banff Camping page. You can also find more info on Canadian Rockies camping at this this Jasper Camping page.

The answer is that prices are per campsite, not per camper in both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, except at the Marmot and Whirlpool/Ranger Creek campgrounds in Jasper, where the prices are, respectively, $5.80 per person and $4.90 per person.

Thanks for the question! Hope this info helps.

Towns of the Canadian Rockies – Golden

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Towns of the Canadian Rockies – Golden

Golden, BC

The name of the place alone makes it beautiful and in real life, it only becomes more so. Whereas Banff has quite a touristy feel about it for example, Golden feels quite authentic. Golden, itself, is located in one of the most beautiful places in the world set between Banff, Glacier, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Yoho. The list of activities to do takes up a big page with Kicking Horse (one of the best and most challenging ski hills around) during winter and some of the Rockies’ best hiking in summer.

A ground squirrel enjoys the Golden sun.

If biking is your scene, then you are coming to the right place. Golden hosted the longest singletrack downhill mountain bike race in the world (Psychosis) for 10 years. Though this race doesn’t exist any more, the trail is still there for anyone who wants to challenge themselves. If you want to do something a bit more relaxing, the Kicking Horse Gondola provides unbelievable panoramic views. In fact, it has the highest elevation sightseeing Gondola of any resort in BC.

The rafting on the Kicking Horse River is second to none in summer with several different options ranging from the ‘Oh this is fun’ level to the ‘Oh God I am going to die but I love it’ level. Golden is only about a beautiful 90 minute drive from Banff (one hour from Lake Louise) and is definitely somewhere you should take time to visit.

Golden Tourism

Summer Drinking in Banff – The Saltlik Patio

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Summer Drinking in Banff – The Saltlik Patio

Banff National Park, Alberta

The Saltlik is one of those restaurant / bars in Banff that the locals just love. It could be because of the delicious steaks, it could be the choice of cocktails or it could be because all the waitresses appear to be supermodels in training. I have my own thoughts on this! However, throughout the winter, it is easy to forget that the patio is more than just a snow collector. Once the sun comes out, the Saltlik has one of the best patios in Banff for an outside beer and also one of the best atmospheres.

The Saltlik is a big locals favourite in Banff.

Located on Bear Street, the patio leans right out on the street just like the Grizzly Paw in Canmore so you can people watch all you like while sipping on your choice of beverage. Aside from being model material, their servers are all extremely friendly and laid back and make you feel even more comfortable behind those thick sunglasses. If you are staying until the late evening and the shadows are beginning to appear, they will bring out some heaters so you won’t go cold.
The Saltlik isn’t the cheapest option in town but it is certainly one of the best. In fact, if you go for some evening drinks on a Sunday, you will probably have one of your best nights out in Banff. Sunday is local’s night and the Saltlik goes off. It is the perfect place to spend the earlier parts of the night before heading off around Banff to continue your night. Banff has a great reputation when it comes to nightlife but there is no reason you can’t enjoy the ‘daylife’ too!

221 Bear Street

Banff Upper Hot Springs

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Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff, Alberta

Banff may never have been as popular as it is now if it wasn’t for the hot springs founded by three railway workers over a hundred years ago in 1885. It remains as much of a luxury now as it was back then. Though the original site can no longer be bathed in due to some snails on the brink of extinction (no, I am not joking) the Banff Upper Hot Springs remain open to the public and it is something that every visitor to Banff should do if the chance arises.

The Banff Upper Hot Springs is a great way to unwind in the Rockies.

The slight disappointment you might feel when you see that the Springs have become more of a swimming pool than their original peaceful haven is overcome when you look at the stunning backdrop of the Canadian Rockies. The 1930’s heritage bathhouse and the outdoor, spring-fed pool have a spectacular view of Mount Rundle which you can sit back in the soothing warmth and enjoy. It is equally good for a romantic couple as it is for a family on vacation.

This being the Canadian Rockies, there are many other hot springs around outside Banff. Though not technically a hot spring, the swimming pool in the Fairmont at the Jasper Park Lodge provides one of the greatest unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains.

For more information about the Hot Springs.