Driving to Banff from Minnesota in August. I would like to stay a few days in Banff and then move on to another must see area, Lake Louise or Jasper...or is it best just to stay in Banff and drive to those places for day trips/hikes? Hope to do some basic hiking anything else must do? Is the Hot Springs worth a stop? I would like to stop at the Grassland National park on the way there too...any suggestions where to stay there?
I just returned from Banff yesterday and loved it. I actually did a whirlwind trip.. I spent one night in Calgary to go to the Calgary Stampede (spent the night at Hotel Arts) and then drove 90 minutes to Banff. We stayed at the The Fairmont Banff Springs which is a beautiful hotel and then drove up to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. It's only a 45-minute drive but we stayed at the The Post Hotel which I LOVED! Have fun
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You can easily stay in Banff and reach Lake Louise in about an hour, but you should definitely stay in Jasper. Jasper is a good three hour drive from Banff so you would spend 6 hours just getting there and back. Hiking really is the main draw of the entire area, but you can also try white water rafting if you are a thrill seeker, or there's horseback riding if you are into horses. The hot springs in Banff and Jasper are often really crowded during the summer months. I personally think it's over rated. Don't know anything about Grassland National Park. Hope that helps!
Banff is amazing! Lake Louise is very close, so you can definitely day trip from there. I went in winter, but I anticipate that the views for hiking are equally great in summer (and warmer)! I wasn't blown away by the hot springs... they were basically a very large hot tub with the views of the mountains, but it's nice for sore muscles after a day of skiing or hiking. I'll be releasing a post on what to do and where to eat in Banff on my blog soon. www.flirtingwiththeglobe.com
Also, I would recommend staying at Rimrock Resort Hotel - the service is fantastic and the views are amazing!