Road cyclists have died and gone to heaven in Banff. The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the finest rides in the world. While the grades are reasonable considering the surroundings a certain level of fitness is required. If you use a tour company you can rely on them to transport luggage as well as ensure accommodations. The cost is a little more but the convenience can be well worth it.
Banff Mountain Biking
The Classic Ride is the Icefields Parkway which runs from Jasper to Lake Louise but many (if not most) continue on to Banff, approximately 300km in total.. The prefered direction is from Jasper to Banff as their is an elevation loss of over 500m. Of course that by no means should suggest it's all down hill - it isn't. There are two passes which you must climb on route, the Sunwapta and Bow which will take you to 2000m from your starting elevation of approximately 1000m in Jasper. If you're in moderate good condition and you know how to sit a bike comfortably, you shouldn't have a problem. It's not a bad idea to do some training in hilly areas before you head out, after all it is the Rockies. The best plan is to have a loose itinerary to allow you to set your own pace. You be glad you took this approach (even if you find the cycling easy) once you see how many places on route and side trips that will entice you to go exploring.
Accommodations and supplies should be well thought out, particulary during the high season. There aren't much in the way of services between Jasper and Lake Louise, so make sure your prepared. There are five hostels along route but you must reserve. Altenately there are twelve campgrounds but remember it's first come first served. There are also several lodges on on the way (or within cycling distance - inquire first) but reservations made well in advance are essential.
Of course it can rain in the parks every few days or so - keep that in mind. Another weather related factor to consider is head winds, if the wind is howling it can slow you to a crawl in sections. Remember this is the mountains, so the nights will be cool and it can drop below freezing even in the summer.
Now with all the caveates out of the way what you'll see and experience is one of the world's most magnificant areas. Spectacular snow cover peaks, glaciers which reach down almost to the roadway, emerald lakes, a wide variety of wildlife and the exhileration and satisfaction of seeing it all under your own power.
See our resources section for a list of some of the companies which provide supported and unsupported tours. As well as accommodations, camping, hostels and more.
The park lists serveral shorter rides in and around Banff and Lake Louise. Inquire with the park staff for more information.
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