Subject: Re: Travel Advice...
Hi, Amelia!

I'm with John Rule, you are in such a pretty pickle!

We did the Banff/Lake Louise area by car too many years ago. Both spots are fabulous for a day's visit--you have to do the grounds at the famed Banff Springs Hotel (golf anyone?) and Chateau Lake Louise (the lakefront flower gardens should be mah-va-lous in June)-- but for our tastes, anyway, the highlights of that trip were those serendipitous road warrior discoveries out in the mountains and lakes. I fondly remember Emerald Lake and Morraine Lake, among others, but those spots may no longer be the back doors they were when we explored the area. You can enjoy some terrific hikes, canoe trips, camping, horseback rides, picnics...whatever strikes your fancy. We flew into Calgary and drove west to the range. I'd think your proposed drive from Prince Rupert would be far more scenic and take you into some rather remote, undiscovered country. Sounds like a winner!

On the other hand, we visited Ketchikan and several other coastal Alaska spots July 2002 via traditional cruise ship and were awed by what we found. Because I've been there more recently than the Rockies, I have more to offer in the way of concrete info. I'm going to cut and paste from my trip planning notes--excuse the short hand and grammer:

The Milepost is the guide to Alaska--check the library or order one http://www.milepost.com The Anchorage Daily News website has great info for all Alaska questions and an activities calendar. Use the search engine to find terrific feature stories on selected destinations. http://www.adn.com/visitors See, also, www.travelalaska.com -- beautiful site. For Ketchikan, see http://www.visit-ketchikan.com/ http://www.alaskatravelers.com/ketchika1.htm http://www.ketchikanchamber.com/tourist.html

Expect rain! Gets 150+ annually. Chamber of Commerce across from dock offers all kinds of visitor's information, tours, etc. Also, the Southeast Alaska Visitors Center [we thought this was a good, short visit]. Pick up walking tour map. Very easy, level ground walking to main spots for total 1-2 miles walking. [Amelia, I recently posted the walking tour map for some other travelers: http://www.dianaball.net/ketchikanmap.htm ] Places to see: Saxman Native Totem Village (have to get transport out--tour, cab or bike ride?), Totem Heritage Center [we thought this was a fascinating historic stop], and the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center [only so-so, in our opinion]. (Note: Most rate Saxman better than Totem Bight for totem viewing.)

Ketchikan is the salmon fishing capital of the world! Best-priced fishing excursion I found was $120/4 hours, www.southeastsportfishing.com looks very family-oriented and includes wildlife watching; see also Capt. Ken's site at www.ktn.net/ken [Amelia, we donned waders and river fished for salmon in interior Alaska. Even if you don't think you'd like fishing, it was an unexpected highlight of our trip. I think these links are for boat charter fishing--but I think there are some rivers near Ketchikan, and personally, I preferred our river fishing adventure to other boat fishing I've done. You will see the salmon running in the river that goes through town.] Other active sport recommended in this area is sea kayaking, see www.southeastexposure.com and www.ktn.net/sekayaks The thing to do here is a Misty Fiords floatplane or fjords boat charter tour. See www.islandwings.com and http://www.familyairtours.com/ [Amelia, we did not do the floatplane trip, but from everything I've read and heard from fellow travelers, it's a truly special outing.] Snorkeling (with cold water wet suits!), interesting sea life. http://www.snorkelalaska.com/pages/725130/index.htm

Amelia, that's all for my notes. Maybe something piqued your interest? Of course, bear in mind that my research was geared for a one-day visit. I am sure there is much, much more to be enjoyed in the area!

I'll offer two final considerations: (1) A lot of what makes Alaska exciting for some visitors is the wildlife--bears, whales, etc. If that's important to your enjoyment of the area, check to see if the timing of your trip is right for wildlife viewing. I think you are a tad early, but I could be wrong. (2) Evaluate your interest level in continued coastal delights following your ferry trip. After our 7 days on the cruise doing coastal town/water-based activities, I found I was ready for spending the next 7 days on land in an interior mountain, valley and river/lakes region (we went to the McKinley area). The contrasting topography and different activities/culture was good for the travel soul!

Happy planning!

Diana Ball near Houston, TX