Camping in the Rockies (Banff) during the Calgary Stampede
Replies: 11 - Last Post: May 20, 2012 2:45 PM Last Post By: travelinstyle46
May 1, 2012 10:35 PM
My boyfriend and I are planning on driving west across the country from Montreal this summer. We hope to camp most of the way, to save money and to see as much Canada as possible! Unfortunately we only have about 12 days (our ultimate destination is a friend's wedding in Victoria before flying home).
We'll be passing through Calgary right when the Stampede is on (probably July 7-9) but we realized that this creates a bit of a conundrum regarding accommodations, either camping in Banff or staying right in Calgary (we're thinking of stopping for a day to look at the Stampede and then continuing on to spend a day in the Rockies). We want some flexibility so that we can either linger or hurry through places as we like, but we want to be sure to have a place to stay when we arrive in Calgary at the busiest time of year. To make matters worse, July 7 and 8 are Saturday and Sunday!
What would you recommend -- book something in advance and stick to a strict itinerary? Leave things flexible and try to score a "first-come-first-serve" campsite or a last-minute room? Plan it so that we avoid Calgary on a Stampede weekend and arrive Monday or enjoy the weekend there?
May 2, 2012 12:00 AM
1I was in Calgary in May last year and as I recollect there was not much camping near the city. We paid $35/night for a terrible commercial RV park on the east edge of the city. If you are planning to spend a day or two at the stampede I would break out for a couple nights at a motel. This would run you around $100 per night.
May 2, 2012 7:22 AM
2Lodging well to the East...Pass through Calgary as quickly as possible...As much of the accommodation in Banff will be full of Stampede fans driving into town...Go into camp where you can up the road ... Spending two memorable days driving the scenic highways to Jasper & Yellowhead pass...Drive the 5 then, toward Vancouver...carracar
May 2, 2012 11:11 PM
3Driving from Montreal to Victoria is serious distance, even hard driving I would estimate from experience 5 days minimum. That must be part of your calculation.
May 4, 2012 8:30 AM
4As johnqa said this is a long drive in a short time. The stampede and banff will take up any spare time you have let alone seeing anything else along the way.
May 5, 2012 10:20 AM
5Stampede is fun but it will eat out your travel budget - if you're on one of those. Went last year and a single day on the Stampede grounds quickly set BF and I back a 100 dollars just from buying food, drinks and snacks and taking a ride on the random rollercoaster. This didn't include the entrance fee. In my opinion it's not very interesting to be there if you can't spend a little. On the bright side it probably won't be interesting for more than a day unless you're really into that sort of stuff. You'll need accommodation in the city to make the most of it in my opinion. We lived in the city so that's why we went. If you'd have more time then I'd probably say go for it. You'd probably have a fun time if you went but it's really not that special. And furthermore, it's annual. Go another year and spend your time seeing some of the amazing nature the area has to offer would be my final verdict...
May 6, 2012 2:11 PM
6We're planning about 8 days driving at about 9 hours per day. We're thinking of blowing through Sault Ste Marie and/or Regina though to give us some extra time looking at roadside attractions or things like that. I guess we should just plan whether or not to do that in advance so that we will know exactly when we arrive in Calgary.
I figure the Stampede will be like the Ex (the CNE) in Toronto or Carnaval in Quebec -- mostly hype and some dry exhibits and typical fairground fare. But it's the quintessential Calgary cultural event, and I would feel amiss if we skipped it while we're passing through the area. Being from Montreal and not having friends or family there, it might be several years before we visit Calgary again!
May 6, 2012 2:13 PM
May 6, 2012 9:43 PM
8Being from Calgary myself, I would say... skip the Stampede & cowtown and head straight to Banff/Jasper! :) But I prefer less crowds and mayhem.
That said, it is a bit of a novelty, just expect a lot more cowboy stuff than the CNE. It is also a MASSIVE event, takes over the whole city really for not just a weekend but for 10 days (July 6-15 this year). And it's super expensive, as mentioned above.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Stampede, so if you had high hopes of getting to see the chuckwagon races or any of those events that you need tickets in advance for, you might be out of luck (my mom works for the Stampede and they started selling for this year LAST year...).
Jasper is a bit of a side-trip though, like 4hrs out of the way (from Banff), but SOOOO worth it. I would skip Calgary/Stampede and head to the Icefields in Jasper! There will be much more opportunity to camp up there and way less crowds. You can hike on a glacier!
May 7, 2012 7:37 AM
9I wouldn't leave camping/hotel until the last minute at this time of year, it will be really hard to find anything. I'd recommend camping in Banff as there are a ton of sites, some of which you can reserve ahead of time. As for the stampede... take it or leave it- if you're in the area and interested, check it out, but it's a pretty generic (but big) event (IMO). If you're there, make sure to check out the newest deep fried food - I had deep fried Mac & Cheese one year and it was excellent!
May 19, 2012 7:28 PM
May 20, 2012 2:45 PM
11Funny how perceptions differ on the Stampede. I have friends in Scotland who are pretty well rounded world travellers and they rate it as one of their top 5 experiences. They spent 4 days in Calgary for Stampede a few years ago and plan to return for a full week this year if they can.
Overall, I think your 12 days to go from Montreal to Victoria is far short of desirable. If you think about just how much of your total time will be spent just driving it isn't a very good percentage. More of a drive from A to B than a holiday visiting places along the way.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$217.70 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$293.75 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$949.71 per night