Banff National Park

What a shocking site right in the middle of Banff.

Wow, talk about having a bad day! .

We arrived at Lake Louise in Banff National Park on a Thursday before one of the busiest long weekends of the summer, BC Day, on Monday Aug. 4th. Even though we arrived by 11am all the campgrounds with hook-ups or in the most popular areas were already taken. We were anticipating this and decided to try a first come/first serve campground on the Bow Valley Parkway called Johnston Canyon, suggested by Pam and Rob’s friend Tracy. We got lucky and got the last site available for a unit our size for 4 nights. It was dry camping at its best and ideally situated between Banff and Lake Louise.

Lots of warning signs that were unheaded

IMG_2982After settling, we headed into Banff townsite where we happened upon someone who had just had a very, very bad day. It had occurred just before we arrived and the driver from Wisconsin was sitting nearby trying to contact people on the phone. So shocking, you wonder how on earth it could ever have happened, with the signs, the bright yellow tape and the chains hanging down. I doubt we’ll ever see anything like that ever again.







Small hot spring cave that was discovered in 1883

Small hot spring cave that was discovered in 1883

While in downtown Banff we went to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. This is the site of the original discovery of the hot springs in 1883, which eventually became Canada’s first National Park, known as Banff National Park. There’s no longer a swimming pool there, you have to go to the big resort hotel for that, but you can hike the boardwalks and see the hot water seeping from the earth.

IMG_3002IMG_3004IMG_2995It was a busy four days and we started with a hike to Lower Johnston Falls, walking distance from our campground. It is a beautiful hike that takes you through the forest and then along catwalks that are affixed to the limestone walls of the deep canyon and alongside the rushing waters of the Johnston Creek below. The Lower Johnston Falls creates a beautiful green pool before turning back into a raging creek. We saw several white water kayakers carrying their boats upriver, but we never saw them put in. Too bad, it would have been a wild ride.







We also went on a gondola ride high above Lake Louise where we saw a grizzly bear grazing in the meadow below us. No time for his picture but another one obliged us on the side of the road, intent only on his berries. Everywhere we went there were bear warnings and warnings to hike in groups and make noise. There were even grizzly bears sighted in our campground. We bought a bear bell for Laia, it was so big it made her walk crooked. It was hilarious, but better than being attacked.


The trail to the teahouse at

The trail to the teahouse at the Plain of Six Glaciers

The Teahouse at the Plain of Six Glaciers

The Teahouse at the Plain of Six Glaciers

Fresh made biscuit and tea-nourishment for the trip down

Fresh made biscuit and tea-nourishment for the trip down

We went to the Chateau Lake Louise, unbelievably gorgeous set on the shore of the chalky green glacial fed lake. Such a beautiful place, but at this time of year a complete madhouse with bus tours and tourists from all over the world descending upon it. Unbelievably, you only have to walk a short distance down the trails and the crowds disappear. Leonard decided to hike up to the teahouse at the Plain of Six Glaciers the following morning. It’s a beautiful hike that begins along the shore of Lake Louise and then climbs into the forest and rock slide area high above the lake. He returned via the Lake Agnes teahouse trail for a total of almost 10 miles. What an animal!















IMG_3107One afternoon we went to check out the historic Banff Springs Hotel, built in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad as part of their string of luxury hotels, the Chateau Lake Louise was also built by the same company. We wandered the hotel, and then sat in a lounge with large windows overlooking the mountains and had a light dinner.

IMG_3130IMG_3179IMG_3182Lastly, we went to the stunningly beautiful Moraine Lake, which many people consider to be the best of the Canadian Rockies. At one time an image of Moraine Lake was printed on the back of a Canadian 20 dollar bill. The blue-green color of this lake is so brilliant that it almost appears unnatural and is created from glacial silt. A 3 km return hike along the shoreline had us stopping every 50 meters to admire the beauty and take more photos. Thank god for digital cameras, the film never runs out. After the hike we noticed people standing on top of a large rockpile at the end of the lake, so we decided to climb up and were met with the view of a lifetime. I think it may have been my favorite place in the Rockies.

11 responses to “Banff National Park

  1. Ahhh… the hike to the teahouse… I remember it well. What a cool snap of Laia overlooking Louise! Cave and Basin… what good is a spring if you cannot soak in it? The images of Johnston Creek and falls are spectacular; not sure how we missed that? And speaking of missing, reading is fundamental… what a way to ruin their holiday!

  2. No picture of Laia and her bear bell? Awesome pictures! Makes me want to go back.

  3. Matthew John Fields

    Moraine Lake pictures–AMAZING. It is official, Laia is the luckiest dog in the entire friggen world!

    • sunandsandtravelers

      Yes she is! The CDN Nat Park system is much more civilized than the US as well, they allow dogs on all the trails in Nat Parks. The US only allows them in the campgrounds.

  4. We affectionately call those bells “dinner bells”, but yes, we carry them too on our hikes.

    Black bear scatt has berries in it. Grizzly bear scatt contains bells and smells like pepper. Don’t mind me, just digressing to my fond memories when I lived in Banff for a couple of summers. I absolutely love the Rockies.

    • sunandsandtravelers

      LOL, at least we ‘felt’ like we were protected! At Waterton not only must you fear the bears, but they have dog-killing deer there too. Wow, you have to be ready to react at a moments notice.

  5. The hotspring pool was there 25 years ago, when I lived in Banff; I wonder why they took it out? I lived in a tent on Tunnel Mtn campground in the summer of 1987 for 2 months with 3 of my friends; good times.

  6. Beautiful photos again. That area is one of the most beautiful anywhere.

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