Traveling to the Canadian Rockies was a three day journey by minivan, with a 6 and 9 year old in tow, and plenty of DVDs. We traveled to Banff in June of 2010 and loved every part of our trip. Listed below are my favorite places we visited in and around Banff and Jasper, Canada. Note, most of these photos included in this post are ours. Obviously, you can find more spectacular photos at other sites online, but this is how the rockies looked to us. Note the destination and its description are above the photos.
Johnston Canyon – A 30 minute drive from Banff, this canyon was formed by thousands of years of erosion by water. High canyon walls, waterfalls, and tunnels make this canyon a tourist favorite. This is a very busy trail and due to the nature of the catwalks and narrow paths, it can become packed very quickly. Plan on heading here before the 11-3:00 rush.
Marble Canyon – We decided to visit Marble Canyon based on a fellow tourist’s tip. It’s located at the north end of Kootenay National Park, which is about a 30 minute drive from Banff. This place was a stark contrast to Johnston Canyon in that no one was here; and most of the time we were looking down into the canyon, as opposed to walking through it. At the top of the canyon is a roaring river, which cascades below into the eroded canyon. Bridges cross the narrow gorge and water rushes through it below.
Bow Falls – Bow Falls is a major waterfall on the Bow River located near the Banff Springs Hotel. It’s a short, wide waterfall with easy access. I found it very interesting that the falls and river are splitting two very different rock formations, one of which is 70 million years older than the other. The photos below show similar vantage points of the falls in different conditions.
Lake Louise – Lake Louise is the most photographed area in Banff National Park. This alpine lake, with its crystal turquoise waters, is situated below glaciers, surrounded by mountains, and flanked by a luxury hotel. Lake Louise is often the only destination in Canada for some tourists. Being a snow and glacier fed lake, I can vouch that the water is COLD. There were some people canoeing in the lake, but I could barely keep my hand in the water for five seconds. Come early or later as this is the primary attraction in the area. Swarms of buses arrive here daily.
Lake Agnes Teahouse – Getting to this teahouse above Lake Louise requires hiking 4.5 miles total with a 1,300 foot elevation gain. I had to take on this hike with Oreos in my pocket as motivation to get my youngest to keep hiking. We also had to stop and throw snowballs every time we found snow – anything to keep the kids enjoying this hike up! First we passed the ‘big beehive’ (see photo below left) that stands near Mirror Lake. A little further up we reached the teahouse. What amazed me were the people that work and live near in the teahouse, how supplies are brought up here, and how trash is brought down (it’s carried down by employees!). I couldn’t believe we heard people complaining about service and waiting so long for their orders. You are 7,000 feet up, getting lunch made for you up in the mountains! Sometimes, people’s rudeness amazes me. My kids were well rewarded for their hike up with big, fresh chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa served at the teahouse.
Moraine Lake – Not too far from Lake Louise is Moraine Lake. Although not as popular, Moraine Lake is just as beautiful. Like Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is filled by glacier run off, thus giving it its beautiful blue-green color. The lake is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. There are hikes to do in the area and canoes are available for rent.
Look for my next post for more favorites in the Canadian Rockies!