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post #31 of 51

@Hwkscr if you are driving, I think you have to buy a national park pass and display it in vehicle, esp. if you plan to visit the Icefield parkway (coz it is considered part of the national park in Canada). You might want to check out the Canadian national park website:  http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/ 
Depends on how many days you will be there, you can either buy the pass as a "family" or individual, and you can opt to buy an annual pass or day pass.  I spent a wk. visiting Banff w/ my father and we got an annual pass, one adult annual pass for me and one senior annual pass for my father.  Because cost wise, it works out better for the annual one (for us).  

You can purchase the pass online (in advance) and have them mail to you or you can buy it when you get there.  They have drive thru booths that you can purchase the pass (that's what we did).  They also have booths set up along that parkway to spot check if you purchase the park pass.

Also you can check trip advisor website Banff forum / Alberta Forum for your questions above (about the things to do).  

In terms of exchange money, we did that in a bank in Calgary (before driving to Banff).  I heard the exchange rate is better.  (ours was $1 USD = $1.36 CDN last Sept.)

post #32 of 51
It's $1 US = $1.41 CDN now.
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hwkscr View Post
 

We did decide to get a rental car. We are flying into Calgary. What are the best days to go to the ice fields? what are some of the other activities that are a must do (dog sledding, snow shoeing, etc.)?

 

Best time to drive the Icefield Parkway is on a sunny day or real high cloud cover day because you won't see much during a snow storm or low cloud day. It is a lower priority for snow plowing than the Trans-Canada Highway and other area roads.

 

Elk Street, Banff, Alberta::

 

 

Bring a camera.

post #34 of 51

in addition to soaking in the Upper Hot Springs it is also a very short walk to the Banff Springs Hotel which is a must - have a drink in the Van Horne lounge overlooking the terrace - if you want to stretch the legs more its a nice walk from the terrace down the stairs to Bow Falls.

post #35 of 51

I agree with Dano, you’ll want a clear day for the Parkway. It’s about the view afterall..

 

The parkway isn’t going to be that busy during the winter, so it might be worth skipping a weekend day at the resort if the weather cooperates.

 

There are plenty of easy snowshoe or Nordic or AT options if you want to explore a bit.  For snowshoes, Wilcox pass is an interesting hike that is relatively easy…and you won’t need any glacier travel skills. Peyto Lookout is even easier, Crystal Ridge might be a bit more challenging, but I would bring avalanche gear for that one.

 

If you have some backcountry skiing experience, there are many choices for activities high on the parkway.

If you are just driving, the entire road is spectacular, but I would go at lease to Tangle Falls to get the most out of your trip.

There are no services in the winter (other than a handful of rustic hostels) and no cell signal, so gas up and be confident in your winter driving skills before committing.

 

The more popular dogsled trips seem to be based in Canmore. They take their clients up to the Spray Lakes area, which is located in a high valley near Canmore. Although the road isn’t in great shape (gravel and washbordy), the valley is quite scenic. The new Leonardo Dicaprio movie was shot there, so you might recognize some mountains. There are a tonne of great snowshoe options in this valley if you decide against the dogs. Dogsledding is pretty pricey, and I haven’t done it so I can’t comment too much.

 

Otherwise, visit the Banff springs and the falls, and walk the streets of Banff. Laggan’s in Lake Louise is a great little bakery/café that is good for a breakfast or snack stop (try the chocolate hazelnut croissant!) Best burger in Banff is at Ed’s (small but so tasty). Good higher end dining can be found at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise and I would strongly consider checking out Truffel Pigs in Field (20 minutes southwest of Lake Louise) for a more casual meal.

 

For skiing, Sunshine and Lake Louise should be your main focus. Norquay is good for a half or rest day (great bumps off the double lift, and cruisers elsewhere). If you want to push yourself with expert terrain, consider visiting Kicking Horse for a day (45 minutes beyond Lake Louise).

 

For other outdoor pursuits (how many rest days can you take?)….ice climbing is pretty good here. I could recommend a guide if interested.

 

Some scenery shots for stoke.....

 

Skiing in the Louise backcountry and hiking in the icefields

 

 

post #36 of 51
Thread Starter 
Any suggestions on where to eat?
post #37 of 51
post #38 of 51

not going to read all the responses so if someone has suggested these just go

Fernie

or Red Mountain

book and pay now and take advantage of the Canadian dollar going in the tank (heck call a ski shop in either place and buy skis for pick up you'll save 40% or more)

post #39 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Post Hotel.

Rimrock is where we are staying.

post #40 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by waxman View Post
 

not going to read all the responses so if someone has suggested these just go

Fernie

or Red Mountain

book and pay now and take advantage of the Canadian dollar going in the tank (heck call a ski shop in either place and buy skis for pick up you'll save 40% or more)

I've been thinking about this. Should I buy everything I can in advance? When travelling abroad I've read the best way to take advantage of the exchange rate is to use an ATM in the country you're visiting. I plan to use my AMEX mostly for larger purchases, but i get charged a foreign exchange surcharge from AMEX. I've been thinking about purchasing pre-paid debt cards, any thoughts on this approach? 

post #41 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hwkscr View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Post Hotel.
Rimrock is where we are staying.

But you can still eat at the Post, just like you can eat at the Chateau.
post #42 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hwkscr View Post
 

I've been thinking about this. Should I buy everything I can in advance? When travelling abroad I've read the best way to take advantage of the exchange rate is to use an ATM in the country you're visiting. I plan to use my AMEX mostly for larger purchases, but i get charged a foreign exchange surcharge from AMEX. I've been thinking about purchasing pre-paid debt cards, any thoughts on this approach? 

 

Without knowing the specifics on the rates your bank charges for foriegn ATMs, it seems like a good call.

 

When I visit the US, I usually get cash at a Canadian bank before leaving and use my VISA. 

 

Most businesses in Canada will take US currency, but they'll give you an awful exchange rate. Avoid this approach. 

 

AMEX is accepted by many Canadian businesses, but it is not as widely accepted in Canada as it is in the US. Visa and MasterCard should be accepted by anybody who takes credit cards.

post #43 of 51

ATM's will definitely have fixed fees and your bank may hit your with a percentage charge in addition.  With the fixed fees try to make one or two larger withdrawals rather than a bunch of little ones.

 

The best solution is to get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.  The airline mileage affinity cards used to have transaction fees but have dropped them in the last couple of years.  Capital One has no annual fee/no foreign transaction fee credit cards, so I strongly recommend getting one of those if  you don't have another no foreign transaction fee card.

post #44 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
Capital One has no annual fee/no foreign transaction fee credit cards, so I strongly recommend getting one of those if  you don't have another no foreign transaction fee card.

+1 on Capitol One when traveling out of US. The one I have also gives me 1.5% cashback on everything.

 

One way to avoid out of US ATM fees is opening a Schwab saving account, which pays almost no interest but is easy if you already have a Schwab stock account. I did not pay any ATM fees in Cabo in December. I was lucky I took all we ended up needing the first day as I had not told them I was going to be there and I think my account got locked until I returned to USA and told them transaction was valid.

post #45 of 51
Yes, remember to notify your card about out of country travel unless it's part of your normal pattern. I notified two credit cards and two debit cards when I went to Austria. The money for the trip was in the account for one of the debit cards that in spite of the notification did not work when I went to the machine. My guess is that they keyed in Australia, not Austria, as it worked in Germany. Thank god my husband had a good balance in the account where the card worked. Otherwise, I'd have been paying cash advance fees on a credit card for my hospital stay.
post #46 of 51
Thread Starter 

The answer my be obvious, but i have to ask. If i make purchases on the credit card in Canada, then pay the bill when back in the U.S. I will not be able to take advantage of the dollar rate will i? The only real way to take advantage of the U.S. dollar over the Canadian is to pay cash correct?

post #47 of 51
No, they convert Canadian dollars into US dollars on your credit card. The fees charged are normally lower than walk in rates at banks.

Really, if everything was Euros, you wouldn't be getting so confused. The thing that's confusing you is they are both called dollars.
post #48 of 51

In the past when I used my Canadian Mastercard in the US, the statement showed the price of the item in US dollars and also what I had to pay in Canadian dollars. So an American"s credit card statement should show the purchase price in Canadian dollars and what is owed in US dollars. While exchanges rates fluctuate throughout the day, the cc companies still seem to find the best time of day to complete the transaction so that it favours them. That said, using your US cc in Canada is probably the most efficient way to make purchases.

post #49 of 51

Check with your bank on the charges for foreign ATMs. Often you get hit with an ATM fee + 3% foreign exchange fee. We have an account that we use almost exclusively for foreign travel with Ally bank that has only a 1% exchange fee. You can open an account quickly online and get an ATM card before a March trip. If you have a credit union, they might have low fees as well. We used our BofA card once in an emergency and got charged almost $10 to take out the equivalent of $100.

 

If anyone ever asks you if you want them to put the charge on your credit card in American Dollars, SAY NO! You will get hit with an exchange fee twice if you do.

post #50 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips. Our trip is coming up next week.

 

Any recommendations on where to glacier hike, or things to do and see in Banff National Park?

post #51 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hwkscr View Post
 

Thanks for the tips. Our trip is coming up next week.

 

Any recommendations on where to glacier hike, or things to do and see in Banff National Park?


Guess you haven't been around much lately.  :)  Take a look at this recent thread:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/145705/canadian-rockies-in-march

 

Hope you'll let us know how it goes.

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