QUOTE(rpbuttery @ Nov 24 2009, 04:16 PM)
As a first tim e visitor, I have eight nights to allocate between Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper in September, 2010. Opinions as how that should be done will be appreciated.
Of course the answer to this question depends on where you are starting and ending, how you are getting about, and what type of traveller you are. I'll assume that you start in Calgary and make a loop to Edmonton. At any rate, I would recommend renting a car to get about so that you have complete freedom to choose your destinations and are not dependent upon any tour company. Try to stay at least a couple of nights in each location to minimize the disruption to your trip.
Day 1 - drive to Banff or stay in Canmore instead. It is a quieter and nicer town with some great restaurants. Take the rest of the day to hit the visitor centre and meander around the townsite.
Day 2 - visit the Cave and Basin and walk the interpretive trail, swing by Bow Falls, take the gondola to the top of Sulfur Mountain, and finish the day with a soak in the Hot Springs.
Day 3 - drive to Lake Louise, stopping to hike Johnston Canyon on your way (at the intersection of Highway 1 and 93). Head up to the Chateau and rent a canoe to paddle around the lake.
Day 4 - drive toward Field, BC and take the turn-off to Lake O'hara. Catch the shuttle bus (which has to be booked in advance) up to the Lake and spend the day hiking one of the many beautiful trails. There are lots of options and a wide range of difficulty from a easy stroll around the lake to challenging scrambles through bolder fields. Alternatively, you could go further up the #1 highway to visit the Natural Bridge and Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park or you can stay closer to Lake Louise and hike around Moraine Lake.
Day 5 - drive to Jasper, stopping at the Columbia Icefields en route (you can take a tour of the Athabasca Glacier) or hike up Parker Ridge above treeline for a fabulous view of two valleys and the Saskatchewan Glacier.
Day 6 - Check out Athabasca Falls and hike up to the meadow across from the Angel Glacier.
Day 7 - take the gondola up Whistlers Mountain (be sure to dress warmly!), visit Malign Canyon, and the Miette Hot Springs
Day 8 - drive to Edmonton and spend the late afternoon and evening out on the town.
If you have never been to this part of the world, you are in for a real treat. Enjoy!