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Banff questions !!!

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

So in 16 days I'll finally be in Banff! 

 

Looking at the bus schedule, for Sunshine for example, it leaves at 3:45 and 5pm.. So that means either leaving a little before close or possibly having to wait around a while after close since the lifts shut down at 4pm. So, I'm pretty set on just using the rental car to get back and forth. My main concern/final deciding factor is parking.. My worst nightmare is walking any distance in ski boots or having to carry boots and skis a long distance. So if I get to SS or LL say at 8:30, is there typically plenty of parking very close to the lifts or gondola? 

 

Also, how do you get to Larch? It's hard to tell from the trail map but it looks like from base, take Grizzly Express than you can take 65 down is that right? Or also for a longer trip, take Glacier Express to Top of the World then ski 109 to 65? 

 

I'm also curious as to how to lock my skis when I'm eating lunch, etc? I have a ski key but a few of the resorts I've been to, the racks didn't use that so I'm not sure if SS and LL do and if not, what type of lock would be best?

 

 

 

Any other general info/tips would be much appreciated!

post #2 of 48

For parking, it's not bad at LL, but a bit of a shitshow at SSV. You should be fine if you get there before 8:30. Maybe earlier on weekends. You might still have to walk a bit. If you're super concerned, they do have valet parking, but it's a few bucks.

 

To get to Larch, you're correct. The base of the chair is right next to the base of the ptarmigan chair, and the backside runs funnel into 65, and will get you there.

 

Both places have locking ski racks, but I can't recall the last time I've seen anyone use them.

 

Other than that, if the weather is low visiblity, go to LL. SSV is mostly about treeline, and can be a whiteout.

post #3 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by RC1090nc View Post
 

So in 16 days I'll finally be in Banff! 

 

Looking at the bus schedule, for Sunshine for example, it leaves at 3:45 and 5pm.. So that means either leaving a little before close or possibly having to wait around a while after close since the lifts shut down at 4pm. So, I'm pretty set on just using the rental car to get back and forth. My main concern/final deciding factor is parking.. My worst nightmare is walking any distance in ski boots or having to carry boots and skis a long distance. So if I get to SS or LL say at 8:30, is there typically plenty of parking very close to the lifts or gondola? 

 

Also, how do you get to Larch? It's hard to tell from the trail map but it looks like from base, take Grizzly Express than you can take 65 down is that right? Or also for a longer trip, take Glacier Express to Top of the World then ski 109 to 65? 

 

I'm also curious as to how to lock my skis when I'm eating lunch, etc? I have a ski key but a few of the resorts I've been to, the racks didn't use that so I'm not sure if SS and LL do and if not, what type of lock would be best?

 

 

 

Any other general info/tips would be much appreciated!

 

Walking the full length of the Sunshine parking lot in ski boots is awfu, they do have a parking lot shuttle but you might have to wait for it. So either go early or take the Banff shuttle. Keep in the mind that you have to either download or ski out (more fun/preferable) at Sunshine so if you ski until the lifts close and take the ski-out you won't have too much time to kill. There is a nice cafe/bar at the base if you want to have a beer or gear down. I'd recommend that option personally. Lake Louise parking is not a long walk and never an issue unless it's a holiday weekend or a big weekend powder day (don't worry, those don't happen in the rockies).

 

Ski Key racks are prevalent at both resorts.

post #4 of 48
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. Hopefully road conditions are decent and I'll probably just stick with driving and I'll plan to get there by 8:30 to hopefully get a nearby parking space. I'd much rather put my boots on in the parking lot instead of carrying shoes in my backpack or having to find a locker. 

post #5 of 48

At sunshine there is a big change room at the base of the gondola out of the parking lot. they have some locking lockers there. It can be a long walk out of the long narrow parking lot.  Louise is much better. My advice - only ski sunshine when its sunny. 

Take a cable lock. you can find a ski key rack in some places  ,but not everywhere. 

post #6 of 48

If you have a car rental and are driving into Banff or SS or LL and staying for a few days or more, don't forget to get your Banff Park card.

post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by RC1090nc View Post

Thanks for the replies. Hopefully road conditions are decent and I'll probably just stick with driving and I'll plan to get there by 8:30 to hopefully get a nearby parking space. I'd much rather put my boots on in the parking lot instead of carrying shoes in my backpack or having to find a locker. 
One other option (no sarcasm here) might be to go see a good boot fitter in Banff. I felt exactly the way you did - and in the verge of giving up skiing - until I saw a custom boot fitter in Whistler. Now I can walk around town for 6 plus hours in my boots no problem. And in the mountain it's an unbelievable difference. Not cheap, but the best 500 dollars I've invested in skiing. Between boot and car rentals it will pay back quickly too.
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by RC1090nc View Post

Thanks for the replies. Hopefully road conditions are decent and I'll probably just stick with driving and I'll plan to get there by 8:30 to hopefully get a nearby parking space. I'd much rather put my boots on in the parking lot instead of carrying shoes in my backpack or having to find a locker. 
Or you could carry your boot bag/backpack from the parking lot, put your boots on during the 20 minute gondola ride, and leave your bag in the day lodge like everyone else does.
post #9 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARL67 View Post
 

If you have a car rental and are driving into Banff or SS or LL and staying for a few days or more, don't forget to get your Banff Park card.

 

That's a grey area.. I know the parks are free to visit this year, but it still looks like they want you to pick up a pass to display in your vehicle for some reason, even though they're free? I'm assuming there's a visitor center of some sort along the highway from Calgary where you'd typically stop and buy a pass?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiscouse View Post


One other option (no sarcasm here) might be to go see a good boot fitter in Banff. I felt exactly the way you did - and in the verge of giving up skiing - until I saw a custom boot fitter in Whistler. Now I can walk around town for 6 plus hours in my boots no problem. And in the mountain it's an unbelievable difference. Not cheap, but the best 500 dollars I've invested in skiing. Between boot and car rentals it will pay back quickly too.

 

Funny you say that cause I had actually been thinking about doing that. I've been having a problem with pain in my feet. I did order some Superfeet recently which I tried for the first time the other day and my feet felt alot better.. But I was also only skiing at a 45 acre ski hill where the longest run is literally 60 seconds so I'm not sure it was a true test. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post


Or you could carry your boot bag/backpack from the parking lot, put your boots on during the 20 minute gondola ride, and leave your bag in the day lodge like everyone else does.

 

Hmm, wasn't sure if most people were already ready to go when they got on the gondola or not but that's an idea. 

post #10 of 48
You can pick up the free pass at the park gate, just after Canmore, driving in from Calgary on highway 1. You'll get a green pass to hang in your car. It's free and takes very little time.

If you're at either ssv or ll by 8.30, you'll be parking pretty close. That's when we usually get there. Mid-week you'll be really close, weekends, maybe a few rows further back. Mid week around 8.30 at the ssv parking lot were consistently in row 5, 6 or 7. Weekend, if you're worried, get to tine access road by 8, parking lot by 8.15, 8.20.

We never walk across the lots with boots, we put them on in the lodge. I find the lots get icy and I had a bad fall in my ski boots at Louise once so...I put them on after the lot walk. At ssv, we put the boots on at creekside, the lodge by the parking lot, and stuff our boots in backpacks and take them up the gondola, leave the backpacks with boots and lunch in the lookout lodge. You don't need a locker - we just hang them on a hook, or leave them in a corner on the 2nd floor of lookout lodge.

Someone mentioned a valet service - don't think that exists anymore.

I've never used a ski lock at either place, and neither has anyone I know. However, I know there are ski lock racks at both places.

I still say consider the shuttle - if op is not used to the vertical (I believe he said he skis a small resort - sorry if I'm wrong about this!), you'll be done if you ski from 9 - 3-ish. I also prefer the 5 pm shuttle - you ski until 4, get changed at the lookout lodge, use the bathroom, take the gondola down, or ski out, and by then it's 4.30 or 4.45. Just in time for the shuttle.

As for poor visibility, yes, sometimes it happens - and both Louise and Sunshine are difficult to navigate in the alpine on those days. Stick to the trees then. But hey, if it's poor visibility, it means it's snowing smile.gif

To get to larch, you can either take pika, or come through saddleback bowl, which connects to pika. It's very obvious on the mountain signage from either topo or the gondola.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by albertanskigirl View Post

You can pick up the free pass at the park gate, just after Canmore, driving in from Calgary on highway 1. You'll get a green pass to hang in your car. It's free and takes very little time.

 

Please double check this.  Two years ago when we attempted to get a pass (you had to pay) there was no place to get one and nobody knew how to do it that we could find.  There was a kiosk at the LL visitor center that required you to access a printer somewhere (like I brought one with me!) to get your pass.  In the end we gave up and were scofflaws without a pass and did not get cited.  Nobody before or since has been able to tell me how to get one.  All of the park gate places were closed when we went by, though we came in from the west during the day, not from Cnamore.  This was in March.

post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post
 

Please double check this.  Two years ago when we attempted to get a pass (you had to pay) there was no place to get one and nobody knew how to do it that we could find.  There was a kiosk at the LL visitor center that required you to access a printer somewhere (like I brought one with me!) to get your pass.  In the end we gave up and were scofflaws without a pass and did not get cited.  Nobody before or since has been able to tell me how to get one.  All of the park gate places were closed when we went by, though we came in from the west during the day, not from Cnamore.  This was in March.

 

Do you still need to bother displaying park pass if this year's park entrance fee is waived?  

post #13 of 48

If you choose to rent a car be sure to understand your liability / insurance coverage for glass damage. Pea gravel is used on the roads to treat icy conditions and can be like a pebble machine gun strafing when being passed. You will see many vehicles with cracked windshields.

 

I spent a week last season in Banff and did not find using the shuttles to LL or SS a hassle being able to ski a full day if desired while not having to deal with parking and/or a long walk from the lots.

 

Great place to ski - Enjoy !!!!

post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

Please double check this.  Two years ago when we attempted to get a pass (you had to pay) there was no place to get one and nobody knew how to do it that we could find.  There was a kiosk at the LL visitor center that required you to access a printer somewhere (like I brought one with me!) to get your pass.  In the end we gave up and were scofflaws without a pass and did not get cited.  Nobody before or since has been able to tell me how to get one.  All of the park gate places were closed when we went by, though we came in from the west during the day, not from Cnamore.  This was in March.


There are no manned park gates coming in from the west (via field). However, there are three giant park pass lanes that are always open coming in from Calgary right after Canmore. Theres a big banner sign and now also electronic one.

If you don't get the park pass at the gates, then yes you are supposed to go to the visitor centre in Banff or lake Louise. I'm surprised they asked you to print it out @posaune because when they issue parks passes for visitors, it comes straight out of a special machine for printing receipts. Maybe the person didn't know what they were doing? If you're coming from the west, Yoho gates are often closed - the easiest thing to do is either get it At the tourism Bc office in golden, or at the lake Louise visitor centre at the Sampson mall.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by fosphenytoin View Post

Do you still need to bother displaying park pass if this year's park entrance fee is waived?  

Technically, you don't need it and there is no penalty if you don't have one,but parks Canada tracks visitor numbers, as that is one factor that's used by the federal government to determine future funding. So if it's not too inconvenient, I would encourage you to pick up even a free parks pass. Of course, if it's late at night and it's inconvenient, don't worry about it, but it is always helpful.
post #16 of 48

I believe the park pass is free this year as it is Parks Canada 100th anniversary or something like that.

I bought a Parks Canada 1-year-pass last year while in Banff, and they said the 2nd year was free ( this year ).

It is good for entrance into any National Park in Canada

post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by albertanskigirl View Post

I'm surprised they asked you to print it out @posaune because when they issue parks passes for visitors, it comes straight out of a special machine for printing receipts.

Not when we were at LL.  There was no option to print.  The sign told us to get online and print it ourselves, which isn't very helpful when my hotel, which probably could do this, is in Banff and I wanted to recreate from Lake Louise north.  It was really a PITA.  I wanted to pay for the privilege of using the park but I couldn't find a way to do it!

post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

Not when we were at LL.  There was no option to print.  The sign told us to get online and print it ourselves, which isn't very helpful when my hotel, which probably could do this, is in Banff and I wanted to recreate from Lake Louise north.  It was really a PITA.  I wanted to pay for the privilege of using the park but I couldn't find a way to do it!

Well, there is also a Parks office in Banff that is better staffed and with better hours.

And presumably nothing was stopping you from actually paying for a pass. Even if you didn't bother to print it out, you'd still have a receipt and/or confirmation of payment email as proof.

Just FYI, if you're in the park without a pass and require a rescue, you'll be on the hook for any charges. With a pass, you're covered.
post #19 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by albertanskigirl View Post

I still say consider the shuttle - if op is not used to the vertical (I believe he said he skis a small resort - sorry if I'm wrong about this!), you'll be done if you ski from 9 - 3-ish. I also prefer the 5 pm shuttle - you ski until 4, get changed at the lookout lodge, use the bathroom, take the gondola down, or ski out, and by then it's 4.30 or 4.45. Just in time for the shuttle.

As for poor visibility, yes, sometimes it happens - and both Louise and Sunshine are difficult to navigate in the alpine on those days. Stick to the trees then. But hey, if it's poor visibility, it means it's snowing smile.gif

To get to larch, you can either take pika, or come through saddleback bowl, which connects to pika. It's very obvious on the mountain signage from either topo or the gondola.

 

Yes, I'm used to small resorts. In NC I ski at two different 95 acre hills and a 45 acre hill. Snowshoe which is under 300 felt huge to me the first time! I did spend a week at Telluride last year which was amazing and my first real resort experience. We had ski out lodging though which made it really easy to pop in for a break or lunch. Though I was still very much ready to retire come lift closing time. Also part of it seemed to be my boot fit causing some major foot pain but I'm hoping the superfeet I just got will help to alleviate that or like a previous poster suggested, I might visit a boot fitter in the Banff area. We're a little limited on talent around here.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by falcon_o View Post
 

If you choose to rent a car be sure to understand your liability / insurance coverage for glass damage. Pea gravel is used on the roads to treat icy conditions and can be like a pebble machine gun strafing when being passed. You will see many vehicles with cracked windshields.

 

I spent a week last season in Banff and did not find using the shuttles to LL or SS a hassle being able to ski a full day if desired while not having to deal with parking and/or a long walk from the lots.

 

Great place to ski - Enjoy !!!!

Well, I'm for sure renting a car cause I'll be driving to visit family in Red Deer or Wetaskiwin as well. I'm just undecided on driving to the resorts or the shuttle. I hate waiting especially when it's cold and I'm just imagining a million people waiting for the 5pm shuttle.. I'm also assuming there's actually several buses that run at 5? 

post #20 of 48
Good luck with the feet RC. My feet are not 'off the rack' and rental boots were a major struggle and discouragement for me. Boots that are molded to your particular foot shape are a little on the pricey side, but these guys in the major ski towns know their business and I have to say it's the one really essential piece of gear. The rest is fluff by comparison. And, no, I'm not a boot fitter.
post #21 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiscouse View Post

Good luck with the feet RC. My feet are not 'off the rack' and rental boots were a major struggle and discouragement for me. Boots that are molded to your particular foot shape are a little on the pricey side, but these guys in the major ski towns know their business and I have to say it's the one really essential piece of gear. The rest is fluff by comparison. And, no, I'm not a boot fitter.

Thanks.. Back when I used rentals, boots were actually more comfortable! Probably cause they were sizes too big but still! I bought my current boots new last year and did some heat molding thing but it didn't really seem to make any difference so I think a visit to a real boot fitter is in order if I still have any problems. Hoping the superfeet will make enough of a difference though.

post #22 of 48
Best of luck! Sure you'll love your trip either way. Be following in your footsteps in February. Can't wait.
post #23 of 48
If you visit a bootfitter - in Banff, I've heard great things about soul ski and bike.
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha407 View Post


Just FYI, if you're in the park without a pass and require a rescue, you'll be on the hook for any charges. With a pass, you're covered.

 

I think that is a rumour. I needed a heli once for a rough backcountry injury and they didn't ask about park passes. I have talked to a few people who have been long lined, they didn't ask for proof of payment either.

post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by manchester81 View Post

I think that is a rumour. I needed a heli once for a rough backcountry injury and they didn't ask about park passes. I have talked to a few people who have been long lined, they didn't ask for proof of payment either.

Now that you mention it, I think I've heard that before. You're likely right.

Speaking of rumors, I've also heard (direct from a Banff business owner) that you don't need a pass if you're only in the townsite to shop.

I believe they were saying that was official Parks policy (seems unlikely to me), but maybe they just meant that nobody ever checks in the townsite, so you don't need to worry about it.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha407 View Post

Now that you mention it, I think I've heard that before. You're likely right.

Speaking of rumors, I've also heard (direct from a Banff business owner) that you don't need a pass if you're only in the townsite to shop.

I believe they were saying that was official Parks policy (seems unlikely to me), but maybe they just meant that nobody ever checks in the townsite, so you don't need to worry about it.

I have heard this as well, but I can now confirm it is not true. When I was in Banff last week, I saw a bunch of cars without parks passes ticketed in one of the outdoor lots between banff ave and bear street!
post #27 of 48
Thread Starter 

One side question is about exchange rate and what not.. I just found out my bank charges $2.00 PER international transaction.. Soooo it looks like I've be carrying cash. I don't even own a wallet anymore, haven't carried cash in years but I'm not paying $2.00 per transaction! So my question is, where should I exchange the money? Isn't there automatic machines or something at the airports? I'll be flying into Calgary. I wouldn't lose money by saying exchanging $1000 USD to CAD then exchanging any leftover back to USD?

post #28 of 48
Thread Starter 

Or should I just bring some USD and go to a local bank to exchange? 

post #29 of 48

I would consider getting a small amount of cash for coffee etc, but I would eat the transaction costs for larger purchases. 

 

The rates at major banks are pretty awful.

 

For example: 

If you give RBC (canada's largest bank)  $1000 USD, you will get 1276 CAD

Return that 1276 CAD and the bank will give you 941 USD.

 

Buy/sell rate:

 

1.2763 1.3554

 

http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/cgi-bin/travel/currency-converter.pl

 

 

These guys are better, but not super convenient for a trip to banff.

http://www.calforex.com/en/

 

 

Most local businesses will accept USD, but expect get no more that 1.20 (total rip off).

 

Just get a small bit of cash and use it all so you won't have to deal with the service costs twice. 

post #30 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by manchester81 View Post
 

I would consider getting a small amount of cash for coffee etc, but I would eat the transaction costs for larger purchases. 

 

The rates at major banks are pretty awful.

 

For example: 

If you give RBC (canada's largest bank)  $1000 USD, you will get 1276 CAD

Return that 1276 CAD and the bank will give you 941 USD.

 

Buy/sell rate:

 

1.2763 1.3554

 

http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/cgi-bin/travel/currency-converter.pl

 

 

These guys are better, but not super convenient for a trip to banff.

http://www.calforex.com/en/

 

 

Most local businesses will accept USD, but expect get no more that 1.20 (total rip off).

 

Just get a small bit of cash and use it all so you won't have to deal with the service costs twice. 

 

Hmm.. So if I go out to dinner and it's $20 CAD, I use my debit card, it's technically $15 USD, with the $2 fee, I still come out $3.00 better.  Obviously not as good if I were just buying a drink like you said.. As for getting any cash at all, is the best option just to walk into a bank?

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