Located well inside Jasper National Park, I had to make the drive to Maligne lake to visit spirit Island. The island itself is a cluster of only about 30 or 40 trees on a small spit of land just offshore. The only way to access the island is by a 1.5 hour roundtrip boat tour where you will only spend approximately 15 minutes at the island site. This was a must see for me as spirit Island was another iconic Canadian image that i had seen photos of several times in my life. Having finally had the chance to visit was amazing. The island, with it's emerald green waters, is a very special place, to see photos does not do it justice. It is a tranquil, peaceful and beautiful spot which seems to encompass the nature of the entire park.
The name Spirit Island comes from an American photographer who first photographed the Island in the 1930's. He entered his photo in a national Kodak photo contest and won.When asked why he chose to name his photo "Spirit Island", he declared that he felt this image embodied the true spirit of the Canadian Rockies. Hard to argue that.
Maligne Canyon is located well within Jasper national park. The canyon is very narrow and has rushing watter at the bottom some 40-50 feet below. you can walk the paved pathways that run along the top of the canyon but often times the views looking down are not the greatest. I'd researched visiting the canyon in the wintertime as the wate freezes over which allows you to walk along the canyon floor on the ice. That, i think, would be amazing!
Formerly the glacier had three pronounced fingers that appeared to be gripping the mountain in the same way a crows foor would. The third and lowest "finger" of the glacier has melted away leaving only two. This was a quick stop along the icefeilds parkway but i'm glad i took the time.
Measuring in as Canada's second highest waterfall, Takakkaw Falls doesn't not dissappoint. The official measurement puts the falls at 384 meters. The water hits the rock part way down causing the water to shoot outwards which makes for a great site to see. The actual freefalling water travels 254 meters down. Because of the height the water drops, there is s lot of mist in the air, so much so that you need to take care of your cameras and realize that if you spend 10 or 15 minutes close enough to the base of the falls, you'll leave soaking wet.
Lake Agnes Teahouse
I loved the hike up to the lake agnes teahouse. the Hike was challenging enough taking around 1.5 hours to hike to the end along the way being treated to some amazing mountain scenery. While lake Louise is, for the most part, not visible because of tree cover, you will get great views of the big beehive, Mirror lake and lake agnes, as well as the waterfall located directly beside the teahouse. this was the highlite of my visit to lake louise and i would reccomend this hike to anybody! The beauty of this hike is that way up in the mountain, at the end of the hike you can relax, have something to eat or drink before heading back down. The teahouse has a small staff that operate the business and because of the time and energy used to get up to the teahouse the staff remains there overnight until their days off. behind the teahouse you'll see the living quarters.
The big bee hive
There are a few hikes available while visiting Lake Louise and the chateau. Close to the end of the hike up to the lake Agnes tea house you will come across the very beautiful and very small mirror lake with the big bee hive accompanying it in the background. The bee hive is a giant rock formation that has a large rounded, rather unique rock face that faces the lake side. I thought that this would have been worth the hike alone but from this point you can continue further upwards and visit lake agnes and its accompanying tea house.
Located along highway 1A, also known as the bow valley parkway, only minutes before you reach the town of Banff, you'll come across a viewpoint called Morants Curve. Here you'll be treated toa very scenic photo as the river and the railway tracks that hug the shoreline take a very scenic bend and head towards the mountains. You can get a very nice picture and all it will cost you is a 5 minute stop on a road you will probably be traveling anyways.
Castle mountain becomes more spectacular as you get closer to it. Aptly named in my opinion as the jagged spear like summit does resemble the turrets of a castle. This mountain was actually re-named Eisenhower Mountain in recognition of US General Eisenhower's command of the allied forces during WWII. Citizens worldwide were saddened by the name change of their beloved mountain. This convinced the Canadian Government to revert back to the original name however the most prominant point on the mountian was named the Eisenhower Peak. While i was researching this trip another VT'er spoke about how specail this mountain was to her. I can honestly say that castle mountain did have a very powerful allure that makes it a little more special than the other mountains in the park. Let me know what you think should you ever have the priviledge of visiting this treasure in the Canadian Rockies.
located inside the town of Banff at the base of the Banff springs hotel, the bow falls are small but very formidible. While I was there in July the amount of water moving down the river was higher than normal which meant the falls were stronger than usual. There is a small path that hugs the riverling to let you see the water from a closer vantage point.
This short hike from the Lake Minnewanka parking lot was a nice way to start my day. The pathway was fairly flat as it cut through the forest along the edge of the lake before turning down into the canyon. The thing i remeber most about this hike was there seemed to be ten times more black flies and mosquitoes here than anywhere else I went so be prepared with long sleeves or bug spray! The trail is about 2 km or so there and back
Lake Minnewanka had a hauning beauty to it. The name comes from the Nakota language who's people resided on the banks of the lake some 10 000 years ago. This is the largest lake in the park but it did have some help obtaining its size. Over the course of time the lake has been dammed one two occasions, the most recent in 1941 which raised to water level 30 meters. This completely submerged the old dam and the village of Minnewanka landing making the lake a very popular spot for scuba divers. This is the only lake in the park that allow the use of power boats on the waters. For a fee you can also take a boat cruise of the lake or try your hand at fishing.
Two Jack Lake
Two jack lake is actually a small arm of the much larger Lake Minnewanka but just as beautiful. Two jack lake is a great place to sit by the water and eat your lunch as there are a number of different picnic areas. Or simply just take a stroll along the water as you will get a great view of Mount Rundle in the background and reflected in the water. At this lake i saw several people scuba diving and kayaking as well.
located at the very far end of Lake Minnewanka, Devils Gap is a large, well, gap in the otherwise unbroken chain of mountains surrounding the lake. To get there you take a boat cruise at a cost of $40/person which last about 2 hours roundtrip. I went in the evening which was nice as it had cooled down somewhat and was a nice relaxing way to end a rather strenous day
White water rafting
This was one of the highlites of my trip. The Kicking Horse river is located outside the park boudries in Golden British Colombia,roughly a 1.5 hour drive from Banff. I chose this river because at the time, the Bow river was closed as water levels were too high and the only other river was more suited to family trips letting children as young as 5 attend so you can draw you own conclusions there. The Kicking Horse river was a great ride! its milky waters home to some fantastic sections full of class 3,4 an 5 rapids. Unfortunately the lower canyon (apparantly the most fun) was closed as we were told that an accident there at this time of year would most likely mean certain death so probably good we didn't go.
The entire ride I was wondering if i would be thrown from the boat as a few of my fellow riders were. I managed to stay in through the rough patches but closer to the end I couldn't resist taking the plunge in. 4 C water is very cold but it was so worth it!!
Ahhhh, The Spaaaaah
If you're travelling to Banff in any season other than summer and early fall, things tend to be at a slower pace, plus a lot of us ladies (and gents) in Calgary head to Banff to go to the spa. The best spa in the Banff National Park area is The Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, and has been rated one of the best in the world. You can use the hotel fitness facilities, pool, and spa facilities when you book a treatment for the whole day, but I would recommend staying somewhere closeby overnight. You will be so relaxed and tired from the day's pampering that it will seem such a chore to drive anywhere else.
There is also a spa at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, The Rimrock Hotel (Banff) and a new spa at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise. Go and pamper thyself!!
Banff National Park Hotels
Pyramid Lake Road, 5 km from Jasper, Jasper, Alberta, T0E 1E0, Canada
Good for: Business
This is a fantastic place to stay if you are on a budget. The rooms are well equip with everything...more
Friend's of mine were visiting Alberta so we decided to splurge and share a room at the Fairmont...more
Latest Banff National Park Hotel Reviews
- Bow Valley Motel
- Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
- Brewster's Kananaskis Guest Ranch
- Bad (2.0 out of 5.0) 4 Reviews
- Banff Springs Hotel
- Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 5 Reviews
- Mt. Engadine Lodge
- Best (5.0 out of 5.0) 1 Review
- Save money, Book now!
- Booking.com Excellent choice, Low rates
- Book online.
- Hotels.com See maps & reviews for over 140,000 Hotels worldwide!
Explore the World
- Aggeneys Hotels
- Lindcove Hotels
- Ponta Delgada
- Doha Hotels
- New Orleans
- Santa Monica
- Arecibo Hotels