Banff, Banff, Banff, Banff, Banff, Banff, this was what I was repeating to myself over and over again after leaving Jasper National Park. Jasper treated us amazing, and we saw some incredible things but it was time to head towards one of the most well known parks in Canada, Banff National Park. It is also the oldest national park, founded in 1855, because of its natural hot springs. (Spoiler alert: We never found any nor went looking for hot springs)
We were only staying in Banff for a single night, so our plan was to pack in as much stuff as possible as we could. We made sure we started the day off with a bang. Since we were coming from Jasper, we got to drive along Highway 93, otherwise known as Icefields Parkway, and we quickly learned why it was called this. While driving along Icefields Parkway, we could see Glaciers like big ol’ thousands of year old glaciers, and it was insane. It’s hard to describe what it is like looking at a glacier because, in reality, it’s just ice. Yet the magnitude of having such a big block of ice hanging off the side of mountains and seeing where it had retreated, and the amount of force it has by the sheared off mountain faces was something that reminded me to never forget how powerful nature is. This is one of the many glaciers we saw:
Did you really think we were just going to drive past all the glaciers? As of 2014, there’s a new attraction in between Jasper and Banff and it’s called the Jasper skywalk. It’s a massive glass semi-circle that hangs 280 meters above the ground below, attached to the side of a mountain. Forget the CN-Tower glass floor, this is where you want to go if you want to walk on glass floors. Looking down and seeing the rock, river, and trees below makes you feel like you’re walking in the air. We even got to see mountain goats in the valley below! (Sorry no pictures I was too busy taking in the moment)
But all good things must come to an end. We were off to our next activity for the day, hiking at Lake Louise. We had planned on doing another big hike like we did in Jasper, to watch the sunset from atop a mountain, overlooking Lake Louise’s turquoise blue water. Unfortunately, it was impossible to see the surrounding mountains from the lake because of the wildfires in the area. With the dense smoke, we knew there wouldn’t be a good view so we decided on a different option, a much colder option. We took the trail along the right side of the lake all the way to the far end so we were looking back towards the Chateau Lake Louise. When we got there, we decide to go for a dip in the glacier-fed lake. Now if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember I did a polar dip back in February where a hole was cut through the ice on the lake at my cottage and I jumped through said hole into the frozen lake. Having done this I thought I was prepared to handle the water at Lake Louise, but boy was I wrong.
The lake at the edges is shallow, no place to dive in or jump so you have to slowly walk in until you’re just far enough where you can build up the courage to jump. It was tough but we managed and all went swimming in Lake Louise. (How many of you can say the same?) I personally would not recommend it. It was freezing, so cold you couldn’t even scream. It was more like a panic of “holy shit, holy shit, this is cold I need to get out.” But all of this is said in your head, as you can’t manage to move your lips as your survival instinct kicks in and you’re swimming for the edge to get out. But don’t take my word for it, just look at these photos as my proof.
Although we were camping in Banff, as we did in Jasper, it was very different. The campground we stayed at (Banff – Lake Louise) had an electric fence around the entire campground and a slotted bridge as the only way in and out of the campgrounds. This was all in place to keep out the bears of Banff, apparently, there are a lot but we didn’t get to see any.
After seeing Lake Louise, we were told by a friend that we had to see this other lake because it was less touristy, was even more of a turquoise blue and was surrounded by more mountains. How could we not go see that? We were up early in order to make it to the Lake Moraine before having another long day of travel. It was lucky that we arrived early, taking the last spot in the teeny tiny parking lot that was at the lake (so much for less touristy…). Nevertheless, the lake was much more epic than Lake Louise. Lake Moraine was blue, like really blue, I didn’t even know this shade of blue existed. This is Lake Moraine in all its glory (apart from the haze caused by the wildfire smoke):
This was it; the trip was almost over after seeing Banff. The only thing left for us to do was drive to our destination and fly home. This journey took us across Canada, covering over 4900km, seeing 5 different provinces over 9 days. This was a trip of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to do again. I hope you too get to make this drive at some point.