Last summer, Andy and I attempted an epic adventure to Banff and Jasper. Said adventure never took off, literally, as we neglected to bring a passport for Carter and couldn’t get on the plane. However, our hastily thrown together Plan B to Glacier National Park turned out perfectly.
This summer – using travel credits from last year’s fail – we giddily boarded our plane to Calgary. The flight was smooth…until Carter got motion sick and threw up all over me as Andy frantically tried to catch barf in the flimsy barf bags. I smelled amazing going through customs.
After a cozy AirBnb night in Calgary, we finally made it to Banff. It was worth the wait.
Day 1: Banff – Lake Minnewanka
Ran errands around Calgary – discovered MEC, which is like REI but cooler! – then drove into Banff. Got our bearings, then took a boat ride around Lake Minnewanka. Perfect rainy day activity. First thing we were told when checking into Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground was, “There is an active wolf pack in the area, keep an eye on small children.” Oh my. Note to self, next time book early for Two Jack Lake, it is by the lake!
Day 2: Banff – Rock Isle Lake and Grizzly-Larix Lakes Loop at Sunshine Meadows
Took a shuttle to the trail head for this easy hike. Andy peed at the Continental Divide. Wonder where his pee ended up? The ground was blanketed by new fallen show that melted throughout the day; the landscape and lakes looked completely different on our hike out. So cool!
And, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, ANDY!
Day 3: Banff – Johnston Canyon Falls and Ink Pots
Michelle, one of my best friends from college, and her boyfriend Sonny decided last minute to join us in Banff! We went on a popular hike with a bridge path hanging over the river. Waterfalls, bubbling colorful water and mountain views = awesomeness. On our way back we stopped to see the Vermilion Lakes.
Day 4: Banff to Jasper on Icefields Parkway
Pictured are some places in the southern half of one of the most beautiful drives in the world. We had to speed through the northern half because we took our sweet time at earlier stops.
Day 5: Jasper – Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake
We whirlwinded around Jasper on a cloudy, drizzling day. Checked out Maligne Canyon and rented a rowboat on Maligne Lake. Then, we found some red chairs – there are pairs of red chairs placed in semi-hidden places throughout all the parks and we did our best to #ShareTheChair. Also, our glamping oTentik was the best!
Day 6: Jasper – Mount Edith Cavell and Pyramid Lake
After Michelle and Sonny left us (boo hoo), we spent a rainy morning watching avalanches thunder from the glaciers of Mount Edith Cavell. Chunks broke off then turned into waterfalls rushing down rock walls. We basically got drenched in the rain, gaping open-mouthed in awe. Then, a relaxing afternoon moseying around Pyramid Lake, some play time on swings in our campsite and perfectly roasted s’mores made for another lovely day.
Day 7: Jasper to Banff on Icefields Parkway
We spent the day ogling the northern sights on Icefields Parkway. Had to stop for a bear that crossed the road in front of our car; then a bear ran across the road behind our car! We saw a bunch of stupid tourists running up to bears, climbing over railings to stand in the waterfalls and taking pictures laying down in the highway. SMH.
Day 8: Banff – Lake Louise Area: The Teahouse Challenge (Lake Agnes and Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouses)
One of my favorite hikes. Started at Lake Louise and continued on for more lakes, mountains, flowers, valleys, glaciers and two little teahouses! Worth noting that we saw someone getting engaged on the trail. Last year in Glacier, on a very similar trail, we saw another couple getting engaged. We must be good luck!
Day 9: Banff – Lake Louise Area: Moraine Lake
The sun finally came out! We planned to hike a trail from Moraine Lake, but the lake was so beautiful, we didn’t want to leave. So, we did a little off-roading and scrambled our way around to a private spot to enjoy the views and splash around.
Day 10: Banff – Lake Louise and the Calgary Temple
We went back to see Lake Louise on a sunny day. Then, we sadly left Banff and drove back to Calgary, where we made a pitstop to see the temple. It was a fitting end to our beautiful adventures: from the mountains created by the Lord to the the mountain of the Lord. Cue angels and music.
One more relaxing night in Calgary, then back home.
I can’t wait to go back – without busted knees and with a child who does his own hiking! – to hike the longer, steeper, more challenging trails around Banff and Jasper. It feels like we just scraped the surface; Andy and I are already itching to explore more. We feel so grateful for this beautiful time we had together in such an incredible place.