Visiting the Canadian Rockies has always been on my bucket list. Well I guess me and 900 gazillion other people and I now know why. This place is utterly breathtaking. We had an easy 4hr direct flight from Montreal to Calgary and then got a rental and drove west straight into the mountains.
On our first night we stayed in Canmore, a quintessentially Rockies town just a half hr south of Banff. We couldn’t find a hotel right in Banff but this town was just as scenic. The mission for the next morning was to visit Moraine Lake, Lake Louise and take a short hike near Banff around Lake Minnewanka .
We arrived at Lake Minnewanka early in the morning, which was so beautiful. Walking along the lake shore was so calming. We did a light hike along the lake until we came across a sign saying beyond that point there are grizzly bears, so yeah we turned back as fast as we could. OK we didn’t see the sign – we walked right past it until a friendly British hiker pointed out we might want to read it before going any further.
Next stop was Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. They are nearby so we figured we could do them both in one trip. A word of advice, if you try to go there anytime after 11am, save yourself some time. Parking near the lakes is always full by then, so park at the overflow parking near the highway and just hop in one of the shuttle buses to the mountain for 15 bucks.
We got lucky and chose to go to Moraine Lake first, the line was shorter, not as many tourist and IMHO sooo much more beautiful than Lake Louise. It was my first time seeing the glacial lakes IRL and it was breathtaking. The water is so clear, freezing cold even in mid summer and a perfect turquoise colour which I later came to learn is because of “rock flour”, the fine silt from the glacial runoff that feeds the lake.
We spent a good three hours up at Moraine Lake and I was starting to get short of breath because it’s at a fairly high altitude (over 6000 ft). We then hopped back on the road and continued with our trip to Jasper National Park. Our hotel was high in the Columbia Icefields, the largest icefields in the Rockies and less than 3 hrs north of Moraine Lake.
Driving through Jasper National Park was otherworldly. Beautiful glacier-covered Rocky mountains all the way through with occasional glacial lakes. Every car was driving below the speed limit just to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We stayed at the GlacierView Inn facing the Athabasca Glacier. The next day we went hiking to the Sunwapta Falls, a short (4KM total) hike along the Sunwapta river. In the afternoon we took a short walk to the base of the glacier, past the signs showing how far the glacier used to extend.
On the fourth day, our trip through the Canadian Rockies came to an end. On the way back we had breakfast at the Fairmont in Lake Louise and finally got a chance to see Lake Louise as well.
There is not much cellphone or internet connection up those mountains but then again I did not need it. I was much better connected to myself and my soul, the experience was so spiritual.
Taking in the views of those Rockies everyday is something I can not even put into words and the pictures I took do not portray the real beauty. My advice, just go visit.