Banff National Park
Banff National Park was a dream. A dream that almost wasn’t a reality. As we were planning our trip, we almost dropped it out of the mix, choosing to stay in Glacier NP a bit longer. We are so glad we didn’t.
Overall, we had 2 full days in Banff, that turned into 3 thanks to our innate love for this place.
Day one was filled with exploration. Seeing the downtown, and driving around just to see what we could do the next few days. We made a few roadside stops at Bow Lake & Peyto, but saved the bulk of our energy for the next day. We then headed back to our humble little aboard in Johnston Canyon, and made our way to Banff downtown for a bite to eat that the amazing Park Distillery.
The next day we got moving, starting with a decent down to Peyto Lake. A bit of a warning that this trail is very steep, so you are going to have to work for it, but there is about 0 people on it. Thus, the trail is a bit unmaintained, but it is gloriously quiet.
We did meet a woman from Vancouver at the trailhead. She was went a few feet and turned around as there is little signage so she was unsure how far it was. We had done a bit of digging the night before, so we assured her it wasn’t too bad. So we all made our way down. She was happy to have some friends, and we were happy with the extra noise. The trail down was terribly steep, so we knew we were in for some fun on the way up - but it was worth it. The view from the bottom reminded us of an Alaska glacial plain, and the water was clear, crisp, cold and so inviting. We sat down there with Kat for awhile, just taking it in, before heading up the switchbacks of “hell”. It was rough, but it was fun.
From there, based on her recommendation, we continued up the Icefields parkway to Jasper National Park, specifically to Wilcox Pass. We talk a bit more about that here.
That trip was enough for one day, and we headed back to Banff for a bite to eat at Magpie & Stump. Luckily, we stayed at someones Airbnb in Squamish, BC last year who used to live in Banff, so we got amazing food recommendations lined up for the whole trip. This place was also amazing and had a fantastic upper deck to enjoy a few margaritas.
This hikes starts at the heavy trafficked Lake Louise, and you’ll have to deal with that for about 2 miles, but then it thins out as it goes up. Most of the time past that you are going through avalanche ruins. They seem to stretch forever. In fact, we had to literally climb over recent avalanches that have torn through the trail. Then, just went it seems like forever, you arrive at the beautiful at the end of the path - the plain of six glaciers tea house. It couldn’t be more charming, and the tea is pretty good too!
We were lucky enough to see a helicopter there as we arrived cleaning out the sewage from the outhouse. Pretty gross, but pretty cool nonetheless.
We had our tea, and headed back. But not before we heard a thunderous sound behind us, only to turn around a see an avalanche right before our eyes. It was one of the most majestic and powerful things I have ever seen. But since we were out of harms way, we just sat back and watched.
From there, we made our way back to Lake Louise and onto the Radium Springs hot springs. Those were a bust, but interesting. I wouldn’t recommend going. You may want to just check out the Banff one and save some time.
Overall, Banff was a thrill and extremely worth it.