A Canadian Rockies Ride
The easiest way of all to enjoy this territory is of course to leave the travel hassles of when and where and how (why to go is what I'm telling you) to one of the bike touring companies eager to escort you. I've done this stretch twice with Backroads on their camping trip more than a decade ago, and on their creature-comfort "inns" tour a few years later and enjoyed myself immensely both times. But this country is so spectacular that I returned a third time to pedal it solo and to spend some days hiking what I'd missed.
As always, I found setting my own travel schedule to be a treat. But I missed the camaraderie that develops over the miles with a tour group, the shared experience, and the making of new friends with people brought here from so many different places. And hauling all one's own stuff on a bike can sometimes get to be a drag. Literally.
If you fly in for this trip you'll touch down in Calgary, some 70 miles southeast of Banff. Touring companies usually instruct their guests to catch one of the many Brewster buses that leave each day from the airport heading for Banff. (These buses will take your bikes on a space-available basis if they're boxed, and will also bring you back to the Calgary airport from Jasper at trip's end.) You can pedal from the airport, of course, but the scenery isn't nearly as good as that which you'll enjoy in Banff (both the town and the national park) and afterward. It's the age-old choice of saving time or money. If you can afford it, take the bus up to Banff but use the day you save touring Calgary. The mountains aren't going anywhere.
Then again, you might consider seeing Calgary on your return, for the town of Banff requires at least a day as well. It all depends upon how anxious you are to hit the saddle. Do not miss a walk through the Banff Springs Hotel, a huge old structure built in Scottish baronial style. Every time I'm there I expect to meet David Niven and Sir Laurence Olivier in the dining room.
You can camp within a few miles of town (come prepared for cool nighttime temperatures; I've been chilly in just a summer bag), then ride in and lock up and start the day with great brews at a coffee shop or a hearty breakfast at Melissa's (a popular cafe). There are also many motels, hotels, and bed-and-breakfasts in town. For that matter, there is a variety of accommodations all the way to Jasper so that with some planning and advance registrations you can ride from inn to inn even if you're packing a full touring kit.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Banff