Greyhound (403/762-1092 or 800/661-8747, www.greyhound.ca) serves areas throughout Canada and the United States. Travel by Greyhound is simple—just roll up at the depot and buy a ticket. No reservations are necessary. Greyhound bus depots are always close to downtown and generally link up with local public transportation. Always check for any promotional fares that might be available at the time of your travel. Regular-fare tickets are valid for one year and allow unlimited stopovers between paid destinations.
From Vancouver: The main Greyhound routes from Vancouver include the TransCanada Highway to Golden, Field, and Banff; a northern route along Highway 5 through Jasper to Edmonton and beyond; and a southern route on Highway 3, through Cranbrook to Radium Hot Springs and on to Banff. The fare between Vancouver and Banff is around $150 one-way. The bus depot in Vancouver is at 1150 Station Street (604/683-8133).
From the United States: If you’re traveling from the United States, get yourself to Great Falls, Montana, from where regular services continue north to the Coutts/Sweetgrass port of entry. There you change to a Canadian Greyhound bus for Calgary, where you can make connections to Banff.
When calling for ticket information, ask about any special deals. Other discounts apply to regular-fare tickets bought 7, 14, and 21 days in advance; to travelers 65 and over; and to two people traveling together. Greyhound’s Discovery Pass, valid for unlimited travel throughout North America, is sold in periods of 7 days ($199), 15 days ($299), 30 days ($399), and 60 days ($499). Passes can be bought 14 or more days in advance online, seven or more days in advance from any Canadian bus depot, or up to the day of departure from U.S. depots.
From Calgary International Airport
This airport, 128 kilometers (80 miles) east of Banff, is the main gateway to the Canadian Rockies. In addition to car rental desks, shuttle bus companies are represented opposite the baggage carousels. Companies that offer service out to the Canadian Rockies are Brewster (403/762-6767 or 800/661-1152, www.brewster.ca) and Banff Airporter (403/762-3396 or 888/449-2901, www.banffairporter.com). Brewster is the only one of these services that continues beyond Lake Louise to Jasper. Reserve a seat by booking over the phone or online in advance. Expect to pay $50 each way to Canmore or Banff and around $60 to Lake Louise. Brewster charges $90 for the Calgary–Jasper run. Sundog Tours (780/852-4056 or 888/786-3641, www.sundogtours.com) operates the Mountain Connector, a winter-only service linking Calgary to Jasper via Banff.
For young travelers on a budget, the Moose Travel Network (604/297-0255 or 888/244-6673, www.moosenetwork.com) is an excellent way to travel to and around the Canadian Rockies and beyond. It runs along a number of different routes, including an seven-day loop originating in Vancouver and traveling to Jasper and Banff via Whistler ($514 per person), a four-day Banff–Jasper–Banff trip ($284), and a two-day Banff–Vancouver shuttle ($184).
On any of these trips, you can get on and off wherever you please (and jump aboard the next bus as it passes through) or bond with the crowd and stay on the fixed itinerary. Nights are spent at hostels en route. This cost isn’t included in the tour, but your reservation is (so you don’t need to worry about trying to find an empty bed at each stop). Food is also extra, but often all travelers pitch in a token amount to purchase dinner at a grocery store along the way. Buses run 3–7 times a week through a March–October season.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition