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 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
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!!
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!!
Num-ti-Jah Lodge is the enduring legacy of the Simpson Family. Num-ti-jah is Stoney Indian for a pine marten, a small animal in the weasel family. The lodge started as a dream for Jimmy Simpson, who came to Canada in 1896. When he camped on the shores of Bow Lake, he vowed that one day, he would "build a shack here".
Twenty-five years later, this wild, red-haired eccentric became well-known as a guide and outfitter in the area, and initially built a log cabin on this site where he ran his business. The lodge was expanded and completed in 1950; it's pretty much today the way it was then.
The decor is "worn hunting lodge", and it's a little alarming to see the condition of the buildings slowly declining; however, the lodge still has some sort of elusive charm to it. It's worthwhile to check out the library and see the huge stone fireplace that Jimmy himself built, plus the kids will have fun trying to identify all the stuffed animials that adorn the walls. Rooms run here about $200 a night during high season.
A deep and narrow limestone canyon provides many exciting photo opportunities. This was one of my highlights on our road trip through Banff and Jasper National Parks. Easy 10 minute hike to the bridge over the canyon.
Walls of the canyon are carved away by rushing glacier degree. There is a forested walk down to the canyon (500 m / 1640 ft).
Along the Banff Parkway there is a viewpoint describing the hole in the wall. It is a cave in the mountain formed millions of years ago (by rainwater and snowmelt). Unfortunately the cave was plugged by glaciers a million years ago, so the cave is unexplored.
When I was a child, my dad worked at the Banff Springs hotel, and a couple of times he climbed up to the cave opening, so I always stop and look whenever I drive the Parkway.
(I apologize for my amateur photo editing software)
The Sulphur Mountain Gondola whisks you up to the summit (2285 m) of Sulphur Mountain in about 10 minutes. You can also hike up to the summit, which I don't recommend, as it is a steep, endless, boring slog in the trees all the way to the top. The reward either way is a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains, the Bow Valley and the Banff townsite.
If you do hike up, you no longer get a free ride down; I think it's around $14.00 for a ticket down. When we were kids, we usually rode up with our cousins in our own car, while the adults had their own; we would throw our used chewing gum out the open window on the poor hikers down below. Hikers beware!
There is an observation deck at the top, plus a restaurant. Also, there are a few hiking trails here as well.
Lake Louise - in my opinion is nicer than Banff. While it is commercialized, it is a smaller scale. There are numerous hikes along the lake. There are 2 teahouses in the mountains that can only be reached by hiking. We haven't went there yet, but we plan on checking them out next summer.
Some of the pictures below are taken from a trail by the parking lot. The trail goes on a steady climb for 1.1 km. The elevation gain is 100 meters in this 1.1 km distance. It was a good work out for an early morning outing. When we got there, there was about 3 cm of snow on the ground so the trip up the trail and back down was a little slippery.
To travel anywhere in the Canadian Rockies you need a park pass.
There are Park Gates in various locations & always manned by Rangers who will stop you to check your pass.
You can buy a day pass or upto 4 days, but if like us you are staying longer they will recommend an annual pass as it is cheaper.
The pass allows you to visit all National Parks in Canada.
My pass is still valid until June 07 if anyone wants it - please ask
Shortly after driving through Canmore, we arrived at the southern entrance to Banff NP. Three of these very cute buildings owned by Parks Canada serve as places where you can purchase your required Park pass as you drive by. In our case, a Day pass for a group of 2-7 adults cost us C$14 (US$10).
Parks Canada is responsible for running 41 National Parks and 149 National Historic Sites across the country, and they really do a good job of keeping things presentable!
If you go on a hike in Paradise Valley to Lake Annette you will be rewarded with by far the most impressive view of Banff's second highest mountain, Mount Temple, of 11,626 feet.
Long considered one of the most inaccessible faces in the Canadian mountain world, the rugged wall was first climbed in 1966.
It rightly deserves its nickname, "the Eiger of the Canadian Rockies".
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