Road tripping the Canadian Rockies – our highlights in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff
We really have some catching up to do… So let’s start with one epic road trip we recently did, through the Canadian Rockies. Here are our personal highlights on our way through Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff National Parks. Well, we were stunned by the amazing views nature offered us and all the wildlife we stumbled upon.
Miette Hot Springs
Coming from Vancouver with a stopover in Kamloops, which is a nice little town to spend a few days getting acquainted with Canada I’dsay, we started our trip through the Rockies in Jasper. In the Miette Hot Springs area to be precise. We had booked a cute little log cabin in Miette Hot Springs Resort, which is a wonderfully remote place. The cabins are comfy places, with a fireplace, kitchenette and lots of squirrels running around. But the real highlight is the outside swimming pool fed by a natural hot spring, where you can relax in the hot water after a day of hiking and enjoy stunning mountain panoramas.. Best time to visit is probably early in the morning or late in the evening, when all the day trippers haven’t arrived yet or are gone again.
A nice day hike starts right behind the swimming pool. It’s called Sulphur Skyline and rated difficult, but it’s definetly doable, we’d say. It’s well marked, well, there aren’t actually any junctions where you could take a wrong turn. The way is up. Always up. But when you reach the summit you are rewarded with beautiful mountain panoramas. And chipmunks!
If you think Canadian Rockies, you think mountains – and lakes, of course. We did a trip to Maligne lake in Jasper Park and hiked up the Bald Hills. The views were breathtaking! If you do this hike in summer, take insect repellent with you. You will eventually get above the tree line, but before you reach that, you may well get eaten up by all the nasty little mosquitos. But clearly, the views are worth it.
On the way back we got in a traffic jam which we thought was caused by some big horn sheep on the road. But actually it was caused by a black bear, who was crossing a large flat plane along the Medicine Lake, with two little cubs. Lucky, we got our telephoto lens for our camera with us!
Next on our road trip we drove down the famous Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. The road itself is quite an attraction. We stopped at Athabasca Glacier, where we walked up to the toe of the glacier. And for a lunch at Num Ti Jah Lodge, which is located right next to Bow Lake. Our advice: give yourself plenty of time to explore the lake and it’s shoreline. There is a hiking path that takes you to a nice waterfall that you can see from the Lodge. Unfortunately we were short on time and couldn’t do this. Something we have to do when we return….
From Bow Lake it’s only a short drive to Lake Louise. Once you get there you will see why everybody says Jasper is the more remote park compared to Banff and Lakek Louise. Finding a place to leave your car on the huge parking lot requires some luck. Or patience. We got lucky and found a place right away because someone was leaving when we arrived. And if you get to the shore of the lake, you really have to hustle for your place in first line to take the beautiful cliché shot you can see all over Instagram… But, to be fair, it really is that magical.The colour of the water is insanely turquoise, the steep mountains and the glaciers make the view perfect.
And if you want to escape the crowd we can recommend the hike up to Lake Agnes. You will pass the cute little mirror lake on the way and see a lot of hungry chipmunks. And once you arrive at Lake Agnes, you can enjoy great teas with a view at the cute little teahouse. Henry had coffee and wasn’t too impressed, but hey, his fault, why would you order coffee at a TEAhouse? The darjeeling I had was delicious. Unfortunately, all the scones were sold out,we were quite late (around 4 pm), so we cannot tell you if they are any good… I would advise you to go late however, because it’s much quiter then and the overall experience is so much nicer with less crowds.
Then we finally arrived in Banff. We stayed in the Youth Hostel, a bit away from the madness of the city center. Compared to the remoteness of Miette, Banff is a touristy hot spot. But even here it’s possible to escapte the crowds.We walked along the Bow river and up to the Bow falls, that are quite impressive. We somehow managed to end up in a restricted area that was actually closed to pedestrians, probably because it wasn’t safe. But the views were great, and on our way there we swear we didn’t pass any sign telling us not to proceed. Well, nothing happened…
Lake Minnewanka was our last stop of our road trip through the Rockies. Since a large area along the lake is where grizzlys are known to roam around, there are some restrictions for hikers: only groups of at least for people are allowed on the trail to the Aylmer lookout, and you have to carry bear spray. Since we didn’t have any bear spray we decided not to do that hike but walked along the Steward Canyon instead. Which didn’t disappoint us. Like nothing in the Rockies. It is just amazing how many pictureque, insanely and unbelievably beautiful places you see!