The Great Rocky Adventure

Calgary Travel Blog

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Lake Louise

Disclaimer: These pictures do no justice to the beauty of the Rockies.

It all started in downtown Calgary around midday. Picking up the hire car on 6th Ave, I became Chief Navigator to Nick, a job I didnt take lightly, especially as it was to be the first time that Nick had driven an automatic, let alone on the wrong side of the road.

An hour later and we had just about managed to negotiate our way out of Calgary and onto the highway Banff bound. Once we hit Banff we parked up to have a mooch about the town and a cuppa. With a fresh dose of caffeine, I was ready to take to the map once more - lucky for me it was a straight road into Lake Louise.

Lake Peyto


Arriving about 20 mins later, we headed straight for the lake. Although still frozen, it was absolutely stunning. Once David Bailey had taken enough pictures, we found our motel and checked in. Getting quite late, we strolled to the motel restaurant to pig out on pizza then opted for an early night to make the most of the next day.


Up with the lark, our destination was Jasper - 180 miles north. Stopping off enroute in downtown Lake Louise (more a parking space) for some croissants and tea we headed for the National Park. The road itself is in the valley between the Rockies on either side and is just beautiful. Our first stop was Bow Lake and Num-ti-jah Lodge where we stopped amidst coach-loads of Japanese tourists for another cuppa to soak up the stunning scenery. Next on the agenda was the hike up to the Peyto Lake lookout.

The Bear!!!
Although still snow covered and very slippy (Nick did a massive stack, sinking about two-thirds of a metre into the softer snow, much to my amusement after telling me to stop treadding around like a princess), it was well worth the 20 minute hike to see the Lake. Still frozen with the Rockies as their backdrop, the photos simply do it no justice.

On the road again, and by now we had seen many signs warning us of bears. This sends Nick into immediate Bear-watch overdrive. Threatening to call his mum if he did not keep his eyes on the road, this seemed to do the trick. However, I soon found myself promoted from map girl to Chief Bear-spotter. Nick drove us to Mistaya Canyon for a trek to the waterfall and then to Saskatchewan crossing for a spot of lunch. We were well into the Icefields Parkway by now, which means lots of icefields spilling over the mountains forming gorgeous ice-blue glaciers and stunning vistas at almost every bend in the road.
Say Cheese!
A litttle further on we reached the Columbus Icefields centre, from here you can take a purpose built bus onto the actual icefield but more about this later as it was too cloudy to do the tour then so we headed onwards.

With a few more scenic stops, we arrived in Jasper about 5pm.  We were expecting a bigger town and it did not take us long to have a look around and stop off for a cheeky glass of wine (or Orange Juice for my chauffeur). We then headed straight for the Maligne canyon where you can ice hike in the winter. By now, it was thawing and we headed about 1km in for some spectacular views.

Back in the car, it was time to head back in the direction of Banff. We were staying in a place called Sunwapta Falls, about 50mins from Jasper.
Johnston Canyon
Enjoying once again the scenic road and tranquility of the Rockies, I was shocked about 20 mins into the journey by Nicks (quite high pitched) screams of "BEAR BEAR BEAR". Nick had spotted a black bear by the side of the road looking for some berries.  After some hesitation, we turned the car around to get a another view and take some pictures.  Feeling chuffed to bits with our footage, we pointed ourselves in the direction of Sunwapta and checked into our hotel. A scrummy but expensive dinner with some beers wiled away the evening, most of it spent discussing whether the bear would still be there in the morning.

Another early start, we began the morning with a 4km hike up to the actual Sunwapta Falls. The walk was through the woods and being early morning, not many people were around.

The Snowcoach
Again, before you start the hike, there are a fair few warnings about bears and what to do if you encounter them and although it was a lovely walk, I spent most of it peering around, planning out my route of attack should we see a bear. An hour later and still in-tact we headed for Athabasca Falls. These were very similar to the falls at Sunwapta although entailed less hiking to see them and were more touristy with ugly grey concrete surroundings deflattering them a little, which was a shame.

Heading back in the direction of Banff, destination Columbia Icefields, we saw several cars parked by the side of the road, in pretty much the same spot we had seen our bear the night before. Lo and behold, NickĀ“s mate was still scoping out berries, and feeling slightly braver, Nick badgered me to get out the car to get some better photos.

Johnston Canyon
A few snaps later and it was time to move on and let our new found friend finish his breakfast. No sooner were we a few miles down the road another line of cars were parked on the side of the road, and, now accomplished Bear-spotters we knew that this could only mean one thing, another Bear!

We arrived back at Columbia Icefields around 1ish and after a spot of lunch, it was time to board the special snowcoach to take us onto an actual icefield. After being driven out onto the glacier in a $10-million bus with wheels the height of Nick, we were stood on ice thick enough to bury the empire state building. Simply stunning - and the decision to put the trip off another day paid dividends as the sun was shining and the glaciers were a fantastic bright-blue.

Returning safely to our car, we drove the remaining 90 miles to Lake Lousie where we were spending our last night in the Rockies.

Johnston Canyon
We had another wander around the lakeside and then into the very plush Fairmount Hotel for a drink in the saloon. It was then back to our home for the night, the Lake Louise Inn for some dinner and rest.

The next morning was spent on a gorgeous road between Banff and Lake Louise with plenty of scenic stops. It took us longer than expected as there was so much to see and the views were just stunning. We stopped off at Johnstons Canyon, which we had been reliably informed provided amazing views. It was quite a hike to see the upper and lower falls but we were not disappointed, they were beautiful and provided lots of photo material.

We planned to stop on Banff on the way back to Calgary to take the Gondola to the top of the mountain. We arrived about 12ish and boarded the cablecar to take us 2281m high providing spectacular views across both the town and the Rockies.

A perfect end to our trip though the mountains.

We had the car back in one piece in Calgary and after a spot of lunch, we were lucky enough to have a few last drinks with Rich and Li. After an amazing week in Calgary and the Rockies and great hospitality from Rich and Li, we really did not want to leave. Nick and I were both smitten with the place and hope to get back to spend some more time exploring the area (as well as some more Bear-spotting) in a few years time.

Next stop Vancouver and a 14 hous bus ride awaited us...

 

 

 



 

shirlan says:
Unfortunately photos never do justice to such beautiful scenery. Although I never got to Calgary/Banff, my daughter lived in Banff last year and worked in the ticket office at the Gondala. She got to do the tourist thing of course, with many trips to Calgary. She even went to the Calgary stampede. It is still nice to see other peoples photos. After all, a different month and the scenery can be so different.
Posted on: Jun 09, 2008
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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Lake Peyto
Lake Peyto
The Bear!!!
The Bear!!!
Say Cheese!
Say Cheese!
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
The Snowcoach
The Snowcoach
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
Banff from the Gondola
Banff from the Gondola
The view from the top of Banff Gon…
The view from the top of Banff Go…
On the Gondola
On the Gondola
Sunwapta Falls
Sunwapta Falls
Columbia Icefields
Columbia Icefields
The other side of Castle mountain
The other side of Castle mountain
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
More of Peyto Lake
More of Peyto Lake
Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls
More Bear!!!
More Bear!!!
Calgary
photo by: Vikram