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Old 11-03-2011, 10:17 AM   #1
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If you could only go to one, Glacier or Banff . . .

. . . . . which would it be?

We have narrowed down our "big" trip for next Summer, and it's either going to be Glacier Nat Park (Montana), or Banff Nat Park (Alberta). My wife and I both love mountain scenery, and they both look like excellent choices. I doubt we will have time to do both.

If any of you have been to both areas, perhaps you could tell me how they compare.
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:20 AM   #2
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Hi,
We have been to both areas and they are both beautiful, however we like Glacier National Park the best.

My idea would be do Glacier Park this year and do Bannf and Lake Luoise next year as they are bioth great trips. Yosemite is also a great place to visit in the mountains however go in from the eastern side.

Enjoy!!
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:14 AM   #3
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We did both last summer. The thing about Glacier is the weather. Not very predictable. Can be unpleasant. For example, we didn't get to go over the Going to the Sun road because it was still snowed in--on the 4th of July. On the east side, the wind can be ferocious and long-lasting. The hiking can be more demanding. Not a lot of amenities. Poor cell phone service. Still, gorgeous scenery.

Banff weather was downright pleasant. Scenery was gorgeous. Wildlife was abundant. And there were many more amenities. Hot springs, canoe rentals, restaurants, etc. The two experiences are so different. My two girls loved Banff. They did not feel the same way about Glacier.

So, what kind of experience do you want to have? That's what it comes down to.

If you want to have an "out of country" experience, consider staying for a few nights in Waterton. Close to Glacier but with a Switzerland kind of feel. Windy though. Very windy.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:38 PM   #4
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I live in Alberta and have been to both. Both are different, Going to the Sun is MC or sportscar road. A nice loop trip would be up the east side rockies, Banff, Lake Louise, and back south on the west side rockies. Summer stops on Lake Koocanusa are great (both US & Canadian side). Eureka Mn. is a joy for artsy stuff - look at Amish furniture. Good camping and beach-warm clear water.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Walter:

If you're on Medicare, like so many of us, don't forget the extra cost of travelling medical insurance for Canada.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:36 PM   #6
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i am biased
i loved banff
the dear lodge is awesome and the moose just take your breath away as they walk up to you ,,,,,
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:12 PM   #7
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Hi DOTLDaddy,
Glacier is my choice. Don't go until early August. By that time the entire park should be open.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:26 PM   #8
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As you continue to read responses to your question you will probably realize that there is no clear "winner". How can one objectively decide which of these beautiful parks is the best? Remember you aren't really even talking about two parks, but four, since with Glacier comes Waterton and with Banff comes Jasper. How do you decide if having high tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton is better than having lunch at the Fairmont at Lake Louise looking overlooking the glaciers (we've done both)? All the parks have their unique aspects; trying to "rank order" them is something few will agree on.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:40 PM   #9
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The 17July opening of Sun road in Glacier was a near record and not typical - June is more typical

However, the real question is, do you prefer a more rustic or a slightly more cosmopolitan setting if both are in equally extreme eye candy landscapes?

Glacier is more "rustic" and tends towards hiking (even including Waterton which is also a must) while

Banff/Jasper (can be equally "rustic" but) due to the very upscale town of Banff it can also be quite a bit more trendy and cosmopolitan. Banff/Louise/Jasper are connected by the Icefields Parkway which makes this area significantly larger than Glacier thus offering even more unbelievable vistas. (Get a reservation to enter Lake O'Hara - only a hundred or so folks a day allowed - if you are a real beauty/hiker nut, there is no equal to Lake O'Hara).

So, if you like to make 'smores on a campfire after a hike you'll really like Glacier and appreciate it's pure natural beauty. If you need a Godiva laced espresso while shopping for Coach after a hike (or tram ride or hot spring soak) you'll need to go to Banff/Jasper. Banff simply has a town full of cosmopolitan while Glacier is more "destination oriented" with rustic "park cosmo" only at the Great Railroad Lodges throughout the park.

Me? I love them both for very different reasons. They do not compare except for the spectacular scenery at both. It boils down to what YOU like to do at places like these. PS you'll need to buy a Parcs Canada pass (the US pass won't work in Canada) to access the parks - even Waterton, the Canadian side of The International Peace Park - up there.

I spent 4 weeks in Glacier/Waterton this fall. Did Banff/Louise/Yoho/Jasper for many many weeks in prior years.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:50 PM   #10
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Perhaps you can do Glacier Nat'l Park this year and at the same time, from the east side of Glacier, it is a very easy, short pleasant drive to Waterton in Canada for a day trip - or two. Then you can get a taste of both. Although the whole parkway from Banff to Jasper is gorgeous - and a MUST at some point, we really like Jasper the best. The hiking is so varied and the "western-type" town is very laid back. August/Sept. would be our choice for any of the area. Sept. is best. Have fun planning!
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Old 11-03-2011, 06:14 PM   #11
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Banff.
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:02 PM   #12
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Lots of incredible perspective in the posts so far. I'm going to add a different dimension to help you continue to round out your decision.

In my experience, the farther north you head, the more moisture you're going to find. We've done your trip multiple times going as far north as the town of Jasper and each time we've encountered more instances of rain and in some years, an unbearable amount of mosquitoes.

Therefore, while both locations are fantastic, I would highly recommend Glacier Nat'l Park in the US if you can only choose one next year.

Have fun planning your trip!
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Old 11-04-2011, 03:22 PM   #13
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We liked Glacier/Waterton parks better. We have stayed on both sides of Glacier. The West side is more commercial, the East side is rustic, with very few commercial business'. We saw a lot of bears on the East side in late August.

Quote:
Originally Posted by powerboatr View Post
i am biased
i loved banff
the dear lodge is awesome and the moose just take your breath away as they walk up to you ,,,,,
There is a recent news report of a deputy sheriff having to shoot a moose that was being hand-fed in an Alaska trailer park. It stomped a school boy attempting to feed it lettuce. . Raw numbers show there are many more attacks on humans by moose than by bears.
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Old 11-04-2011, 04:07 PM   #14
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We stayed at Tunnel Mountain Campground Village II in Banff. An incredible place, it was great to see the wildlife that came thru the Park every morning and evening. I had to remind my grandson that although they appeared to be tame, they were in fact wild animals and they could kill or maim if cornered or felt danger.
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