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Canmore/Banff vs Dolomites vs ?

Original Post
mattm · · TX · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,396

Have a big Four - Oh birthday coming up this Fall and as such I get a "big trip" with my wife (She had hers recently as well).  Our couples trips include adventure but the dirtbag days together are long gone.  We go comfortable or lux for these things. (I talked her into Kalymnos/Greece for the honeymoon 10 years ago ;) )  Anyway, I'm starting to look into various options for a trip.  Right now, Canmore/Banff or the Dolomites are on the top of the list of "places yet to visit".  Looking for any and all input on preference, options, tour services etc.  I envision the trip being multi sport (Climb, Via Ferrata, Mtb and Road biking if not more) but also a bit of relaxing etc.  I know a spa day for her is a must.  Good food and accommodations also key.  I'd want to do something like day of chill sport climbing (her pref), big day or two on something long (likely one as a couple and one with a guide for me while she spa'd it up), Mtb Day, Road Ride Day, Via Ferrata Day and whatever else would be fun on a rest day.  I'm not interested in having to hunt down every last detail so places like a half board setup appeal to me but not mission critical.  The Dolomites seem to have more "packaged tours" aimed at this market.  Any recommendations?  Is there similar stuff in CAN?  Travel time would be late AUG/ Early SEPT.  Beta me away!  Thanks 

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

Dolomites & the Banff area are quite similar, and both are pretty awesome. The difference is that the Dolomites have much better food, but you can drive to Banff. Banff seemed more crowded. As for accommodations, I'm a bit clueless as we camped in both places. 

As for what you are asking for, I would very highly recommend Arco & the Lake Garda area, which is also close to the Dolomites, and has literally everything that you mentioned.  Arco seemed to have bike/via ferrata rentals as well as climbing shops on every corner, and is central to over 10k sport routes. Not to mention that it's a very cool little town. 

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Both are great locales. Banff/Canmore has the advantages of being more easily accessible (presuming, that is, that you are living in North America) and, therefore, cheaper. If convenience and cost aren't key factors for you, then I'd vote for the Dolomites. There is a much more extensive amount of climbing (at least, rock climbing), with especially significantly more choice of quality 'bigger' climbing objectives. Though the rock in the Dolomites is often far from perfect, on the well-travelled routes it still is better than most you'll find on the bigger Canadian Rockies climbs. The weather in the Dolomites is also probably better than it is in that part of Canada--though not necessarily by that much, though there are more 'rain shadow' options (such as Arco) to escape to in extended bad weather. There are also far more via ferrata and more varied ones in the Dolomites (where they are first created during WWI) than in Canada. Another plus, in my opinion, for the Dolomites, in addition to the food and wine, is that there are many more worthwhile non-climbing, non-sporting options in the area for relaxing days. Arco is a pleasant place, but so are the other Dolomite 'centers' such as Cortina or Bolzano.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,367

Dolomites surely win on road-biking and via ferrata (and for general non-athletic "tourism" within two to three hours driving). 

Sharon and I go there often in early September. So over the years I've posted to this forum many suggestions for overall visit strategy and specifics on various activities.

Note that much of the Dolomites (and many of the climbers and cyclists you'll meet) are German-speaking, and often the most convenient airport from USA is Munich MUC.


Willem Braat · · The Hague · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

One thing to keep in the back of your head; Dolomites has this typical mountain/alpine atmosphere in terms of food, lodging and lifestyle. Which is cool but different than the Italian way of life you would see at the coast, lower mainland or in a movie.

For Arco make sure to take swimming pants, for Dolomites take a sweater 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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