Dress warm. Looks like highs in the mid 50's next week and night time temps around freezing. The height of the mountains blocks that sun fast at night so it will be a wee bit cold. Keep me posted on schedule too. I might just slip over and have a coffee with you if there's a window next week.So I am making my first visit to AB next week. Flying into Calgary on Monday til Friday. I have to go up to the Jasper Park Lodge for most of the week for a trade show. Looking forward to seeing this beautiful part of North America.
The drive from Calgary to Jasper is about 6 hours........Take a full day if you can. There are several routes.....One takes you on the 2 and 3 lane, 70mph Queen E 11 highway towards Edmonton,...boring.... then shoots you west on the Yellowhead highway....west to Jasper. It's a longer distance but the passing option is better until you get within an hour of Jasper. Then it's single lane all the way to town. There are sections of highway near Jasper that suggest 70khp, about 43mph.....Often, there are animals all over the road, licking salt off the asphalt.......so you want to bring your A-game, slow down and keep the eyes peeled. I have traveled through Jasper and not seen a single animal but it's rare. https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Calgary,+Alberta/Jasper,+Albertaemail@example.com,-117.4897833,7.5z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x537170039f843fd5:0x266d3bb1b652b63a!2m2!1d-114.0708459!2d51.0486151!1m5!1m1!1s0x53832b0868553e29:0x1f2002bd0b192882!2m2!1d-118.0813581!2d52.8736786!3e0
If a guy has some time, it's straight west to Banff, Lake Louise, then straight north on 93. It's a 4 lane highway until Lake Louise then 2 lanes all the way up to Jasper. From Louise to Jasper is 144 miles of feeling insignificant with crystal waters and mountains that you just want to touch. The Colombia Icefields still have bus tours on the glacier, last time I looked, so that is thrilling for some.
One other route is a run north to Red Deer, then west on highway 11 to the Saskatchewan Crossing. It's a good highway with lots of view spots and you may even see some of the nasty forest fire that went through the David Thompson resort area. It's a wide open road, still lots to see, less likely to see animals on that route but I nearly smoked 3 deer coming over a hill with a rental motor-home so everything is possible.
Once you're in Jasper, bring warm gear, boots if you're hiking....and you want to be able to hike...even if it's just to the top of the Maligne Canyon http://www.hikejasper.com/Hiking-Maligne-Canyon-in-Jasper.html
At Maligne, you can park your car, walk 500ft and see the top of the gorge where the river plummets to the bottom of a large split in the mountain. You can make the entire hike if you want or drive to the various bridges/ parking areas, walk short distances to see the various depths of the canyon. A serious walk starts you at the bottom of the canyon and you walk through the bottom. It's no Grand Canyon, but still a highlight every time I go visit.
I like the drive up to the ski-hill.....marmot basin. It's short, about 15 minutes. Gets you in some elevation quick and the snow depths up there can be awesome. Looks like they've had 12 to 13 ft of the white stuff with a 5' deep base on the hill. https://www.skimarmot.com/mountain-report
Patricia Lake, just a short drive up the mountain on the west side of town is a spot to behold, prepare to feel relaxed. Patricia lake was used in WW11 as a secret test facility for a special aircraft carrier.
Lake Edith, Carvel and a few others are very close to the town site. I'm guessing they're still somewhat frozen, but if the wind is right, you could witness the ice coming off the lake. Looking through 10 feet of water to the bottom of a lake is very refreshing. Last time we were there these black blobs started moving around in the water, which for a second looked like Seals swimming towards us. Turns out they use this lake for scuba diving.
Maligne Lake is quaint.......I met a man named Wade Williams who worked up there for decades, managing the camp. He spotted my M135 at a car show one day and told me about the M135 he used to pull the big tour boats out of the lake, move firewood and do camp maintenance. Rumor is, the truck is still there. http://banffandbeyond.com/the-scenic-maligne-lake-drive/