Canadian Rockies in the snow
October 3, 2018 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Hello, good citizens of Calgary and surrounding areas. The news just informed me that you recently received a record-breaking amount of snow. A friend and I are flying up tomorrow for a weekend in the Rockies, visiting Jasper and Banff. According to Banff Now, roads remain open, so we're continuing as planned. Do you have any advice for exploring the park given the current conditions?

Rental vehicle is a SUV. We both have experience driving in the snow. 🇨🇦 ☃️
posted by roger ackroyd to Travel & Transportation around Banff, AB (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
511 carries current road conditions within Alberta - they are on Twitter at @511Alberta

It really depends what you want to do - Lake Louise and the Banff townsite are always good bets.

Make sure to dress for all conditions and have water and snacks in your vehicle as weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Have fun!
posted by Calzephyr at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

have water and snacks in your vehicle as weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains.

And a snow shovel. Sometimes that's the difference between staying in the ditch and getting out of the ditch.

The drive from Banff to Jasper is spectacular, definitely something to do at least once in your life. I personally wouldn't do it after a snowstorm, but I'm the cautious type. Sounds like the gas station(s?) are open until November, anyway, though the road isn't salted. Oh, and there's no cellphone service for most of the route.
posted by clawsoon at 4:57 PM on October 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, the roads in Calgary seem pretty decent as of this afternoon. I doubt the snow will all have melted by the weekend--forecast looks like it calls for freeze-thaw conditions, so there's a chance of black ice in spots. They're usually pretty good about plowing the Trans-Canada highway (#1) as it's the major east-west route. Not sure about the Icefields Parkway (#93), though.

If you're planning on doing any hiking, be aware there's probably going to be some fairly deep snow on many trails. I was up at Taylor Lake and Panorama Ridge last weekend, before the major snowfall, and there was already about 3-4" of snow at the higher elevations I was at (well below treeline). The larches are turning colour right now, though, which looks fantastic.
posted by arto at 5:20 PM on October 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Calgary drivers always forget how to snow drive and the first snowfall causes a preposterous number of accidents, although that will be over before you get there. Much of the snow may even have melted in the city before you get there if there's a couple of warmer days.

Check the current trail reports for Banff and Jasper if you're planning on doing any hiking. I recommend doing a little bit no matter what - at somewhere like Lake Louise or Moraine the edge of the lake where the tour buses go is incredibly crowded, but after a 15 minute walk along good flat trails you'll be nearly by yourself.

Take avalanche warnings seriously, however. If there's a warning, consider that area no-go unless you have plenty of specialized training and equipment. Also it's elk rutting season so give them room; just because they won't eat you doesn't mean they can't mess you up.

Layers are super important to wear, especially when you are exerting yourself. Bring lots of extra socks. Dry feet are warm feet; people with warm feet are warm people.

Have fun!
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:38 PM on October 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

I live in Banff, all the roads are open except to Moraine Lake and to the little Yoho Valley, so you should be okay. Pack food and stuff to stay warm and fuel up in Lake Louise, take your time and enjoy the beautiful drive. Bring tuque and gloves or pick some up, It’ll make the trip that much more enjoyable. Msg me if you need ideas or suggestions.
posted by furtive at 9:56 PM on October 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Update: road conditions could not have been better, and getting from Calgary to Jasper and back was no problem. The parks are truly stunning covered in snow. Thanks to all for the advice.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

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