“Welcome to the best country in the world.”
“The time is…who cares, you’re home now!”
This was the hyperbolic announcement of the air steward as we touched down in Calgary from Mexico. It was a lot to live up to. Luckily, after having spent ten days driving the Rockies, we might be close to agreeing…
Anyway, back to the start. After a night near the airport we picked up our rental car, stopped at some malls for much needed supplies (two pairs of Converse, swimming trunks, t-shirts and all important road trip snacks), and then headed west towards the mountains. In what was to become a theme, it was an absolutely beautiful drive through green pine covered countryside punctuated by tall granite peaks and majestic blue-green lakes.
Our first stop was Banff, a small touristy town nestled in between mountains. From here we hiked up to the Hoodoo rock formations, alongside the beautiful turquoise river and down to the falls. The scenery was breathtaking wherever you looked.
After three nights in Banff, it was our 14 year anniversary, so we treated ourselves to a B&B (rather than the usual grotty dorm) in the picturesque town of Golden just over the border in British Columbia. On the way there we stopped at two amazing glacial lakes (despite the cloudy weather) with the most spectacular blue water and alpine settings: Lake Louise and Lake Moraine.
We walked around in awe of the scenery, constantly stopping to take photos. The Canadian Rockies are so much more amazing then we ever imagined.
From Golden, we visited Yoho National Park and our favourite lake on the journey: Emerald Lake:
We walked around the shoreline, stopping at the perfect picnic spot. The only problem was that there was a bear warning (as there had been recent sightings) so it wasn’t the most relaxing walk! We quickly read up on what you need to do if you see one: back away slowly (but don’t run), avoid getting between them and their food (mainly berries) or their young, and as a last resort use bear pepper spray (we didn’t have any at that point). Ok then…
Back on the main road through the mountains (the Icefields Parkway), we saw more spectacular lakes and our first glacier before the real highlight of the day – Peyto Lake. There was a viewpoint several hundred metres above the water affording a spectacular vista of the lake and surrounding valley. However, it was crowded with other tourists and we wanted somewhere to eat our lunch so we continue along a path. After just a ten minute walk, we stumbled across an even better view with no people around and ate our sandwiches with our mouths agape.
We drove on to spend the night at a ‘wilderness hostel’ in a beautiful rural setting with no electricity or running water. The evening was spent around the campfire, eating s’mores, talking American politics and looking at the stars with a couple from Vermont and a family from British Columbia.
The next day we saw the Colombia Icefield, which is bigger than Vancouver and feeds eight glaciers nearby, including the magnificent Athabasca Glacier which we walked towards to see up close.
On the final drive into Jasper we (well, mainly Jack) were excited to see two black bears causing a ‘bear jam’ as well as a couple of carabou alongside the road. We remained a safe distance but it was a thrilling sight to see these huge animals in the wild.
We finished our time in the Rockies in Jasper and drove around the surrounding area and hiked the ‘valley of the five lakes’, each an incredible hue of green. Again, we found an amazing picnic spot and took in the views. Later in the day we visited some busy hot springs in a lovely alpine setting.
Probably the most amazing week of our trip so far.
Next stops: Whistler and Vancouver