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Calgary/Banff & Car Rental

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Sooo, going to Banff in Jan.. I'll probably do the free shuttle most days to make it easier and not have to walk long distances through parking lots in ski boots (my worst nightmare). However, getting to Banff from the Calgary airport is what I'm not sure of.. It will be one friend and myself on the trip, it looks like it would be about the same cost to get transportation from the airport as it would be to rent a car and add gas. 

What I'm not sure about is the park entry prices.. Someone said something about free entry for 2017.. Is this correct? Is it also for non citizens?   

 What is the price normally?


Also, I've been reading about snow tires and that alot of rental agencies don't have a big supply of vehicles with them and the ones that do, charge alot more.  


I'm kinda leaning toward renting a car also because I want to drive to Wetaskiwin to visit family. Are snow tires usually needed for a trip like this?

post #2 of 6

Snow tires are recommended because of the cold weather and you just never know in January what the snow/ice will be like.  Having said that there are a lot of Calgarians who drive on all seasons through out the year.


Jan and Feb are typically the coldest months when you need snow tires but Jan is also one of the months we get the least snow.


Newer all season tires on a rental are usually OK on snow


With cold you can get away with all seasons as long as you allow extra topping distance etc. Below 7 Celcius.


With icy roads you can either drive slower with extra care, or schedule your trip to Wetaskiwin for another day, or wait for the plows and sanders.


The road crews in this part of the country do an excellent job of clearing and sanding/salting roads however in a quick storm or a heavy storm, they can't always get them done quickly.


I would say if you have some experience driving in snow and you are prepared to take it easy, you should have no issues.  Obviously the rental cars do not provide snow tires as a general rule so their experience must be that not too many cars have problems.

post #3 of 6

I would say generally that it's best not to deal with a rental. Not many of the cars at YYC will have snow tires, and it will cost more to rent with snow tires than take the Brewster bus to Banff and back. In Banff area, there are two places you would need snow tires: one is the Sunshine road that goes from Highway 1 up to Sunshine Village. They're good about plowing it, but it's still bladed more than plowed and can get icy - parts of it are steep and require snow tires if there's snow; the other place is the stretch of Highway 1 between Banff and Lake Louise. The plows are great about getting out and plowing after a snowfall, especially through the highway 1 corridor, but, for some reason, this section almost always still has snow on the road and can get icy. I've heard of a number of black ice accidents in this section.


I think though that the real deciding factor will be if you want to go to Wetaskiwin. Highway 2 from Calgary is well-plowed and, you won't need snow tires 95% of the time - it's just that 5% that is hard to predict. Snow falls on that highway get nasty and it's prairie, so it'll be windy and it can become very hard to see at times. Snow tires, do make me feel much better about navigating that route. My SO lives in Edmonton, so we commute back and forth weekly, and a few years ago I gave up on doing that drive in winter. I find the lack of visibility to sometimes be too stressful. So I usually take the greyhound - which is an option for Wetaskiwin too, just not a particularly quick option...

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info.. I'll probably stick with the shuttle to the resorts from Banff especially if the roads to them can be iffy sometimes.  I guess the deciding factor will be if I do plan a trip to Wetaskiwin and the cost of entering the park. It seems to be included with the shuttles from the airport. Otherwise renting a car and taking the shuttle is about the same price for 2 people..

post #5 of 6

I believe there is no charge for entering Banff National Park in January.  2017 is Canada's sesquicentennial (150 years) so park entrance is free.


Both Sunshine and Lake Louise have snow hosts who take groups of various abilities around the mountain.  At Lake Louise , the Ski Friends meet at 10:00 and 1:15 at the left hand side of the base area(facing the mountain).  Cost is free and people are divided into similar abilities and shown runs that fit their level. Tour is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.   Look for the yellow jackets.  Note they do not do double black diamond tours but they will point out those runs if you ask.


I am not sure about the Sunshine details but same idea.


I hope you enjoy your time here. 




post #6 of 6
Originally Posted by twa2w View Post

I believe there is no charge for entering Banff National Park in January.  2017 is Canada's sesquicentennial (150 years) so park entrance is free.



Thanks for posting this, I'll take a look.   I might need to move my trip back a week. 

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