Canada or Bust! (Banff National Park)

I crossed over the border from Washington into British Columbia.  The Canadian border guards were very amiable and hospitable, more than I can say for the U.S. Border Patrol.  As I made my way east on the Trans Canada Highway, the scenery became more and more breathtaking.  The glaciated peaks of the Canadian Rockies should truly be one of the wonders of the world!  They are just amazingly beautiful.  No superlatives can do them justice! Needless to say, the long drive to Banff was extremely pleasurable and enjoyable.

I had planned to stay for the week at the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and meet my family there to do the tourist activities and get some day hikes in with them before heading to Jasper National Park to hike the Skyline Trail.  The campground was very clean and well-kept.  It was a beautiful campground.  The employees were very nice as were the other campers.  It was in close proximity to Banff and the main roads to other tourist attractions.  We had a very enjoyable experience there.  After we had left, some habitualized wolves threatened the campers in that area, and everyone had to be evacuated and moved to other camps, until the situation could be taken care of.  Scary experience for them, I’m sure.  I’m thankful we were in Jasper at the time.

The town of Banff was beautiful and quaint.  It was exactly how you envision an upscale small mountain town to be.  Way too many people for my taste, but a wonderful experience anyway.  Banff Brewery is definitely a must do, great beer and scrumptious poutine (gravy and cheese covered fries).  The Canadian food was very good, but for some reason they don’t cook Mexican food well, not surprising, but much to my dismay as it is one of my staple foods!

One of our first day hikes was to Bourgeau Lake, Banff National Park.  It was a wonderful short hike with sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountain summits.  It had a constant incline to the lake with the last 1/4 miles being quite steep and arduous.  No pain, no gain, right?!! On the route to the lake, there’s an refreshingly beautiful waterfall.  The trail is very well maintained.  Bourgeau Lake itself is a small, pristine sub-alpine like surrounded by stunning mountainous peaks.  From Bourgeau Lake, you can hike to “the notch” and see even more spectacular and sweeping vistas from Harvey Pass.  We opted to end our hike at the lake.  On our way down, we encountered a thunderstorm with loud thunder, crackling lightning, and pouring rain.  The sky opened up and it began hailing the size of jelly beans.  It was such an awesome sight, sound, and experience!  The trails became rivers…What a rush!

Another day, we took a bus and visited Lake Louise, Banff NP.  Lake Louise is one of the prettiest lakes I’ve ever seen.  The color of the water was a crystal blue and the mountains surrounding the lake were just as glorious.  We didn’t get a chance to have a drink and see the inside of the Fairmont Chateau, but it looked like a very luxurious hotel.  I don’t generally enjoy tourists attractions, and this was no exception.  It was very difficult to get even a picture of the lake without someone in the way, mass humanity.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait to leave, however for the scenery, it is certainly a must see location!

A fun side excursion we took was a whitewater rafting trip down the Kicking Horse River near the town of Golden.  We chose Hydra River Guides for this fun adventure…The trip was Class 1-3 rapids, but it was a blast nonetheless!  The rafting company was very well organized and safety was of prime concern.  The guides served a delicious hamburger and hot dog lunch after the rafting trip.  We thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and would definitely do it again, but with more dangerous rapids! WhooHoo!

Another awesome day hike we did was to Bow Glacier Falls, Banff NP. The hike commenced at Bow Lake (Num-Ti-Jah Lodge) along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Every step of the way was amazingly picturesque! You hike through diverse terrain, along a river, steep canyons, and surrounding glacial mountains, to the waterfalls emerging from the Bow Glacier.  From there, you are able to summit some of the peaks to provide even more dramatic and remarkable views.  It was a magnificent hike!

One last noteworthy place that we visited was the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier.  Again, a very touristy attraction and teeming with visitors, but a definite must do.  I am just constantly reminded at the awesome powers of nature, and this glacier just reemphazied that fact.  It is on the edge of Banff and Jasper National Parks.  There are several activities available here: Columbia Icefield Interpretive Center, bus tours, and icewalks on the glacier itself.  It is one of the most visited glaciers of the 100 glaciers in the national park.  I was amazed at all the cairns people made at the edge of the glacier…People are interesting to say the least! Haha! Overall, it was sure an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

The week that we spent in Banff National Park was nothing short of a trip of a lifetime.  I truly fell in love with Canada, especially the Canadian Rockies.  I will most certainly make several trips back to visit friends, ski, sight see, and most of all to hike.  If you’ve ever have the opportunity to visit Canada, make sure it’s one of your must-do bucket trips! You’ll never be the same once you visit the majesty of the Canadian Rockies!

Happy Trails! ~Solo Yolo

Bow Lake, Banff NP

Canadian National Parks Info/Wilderness Passes

Canadian Rockies Info

Camping in Canadian Rockies/Banff

Banff National Park Info

Top Hikes to do in Banff