Banff National Park was a rather new addition to the bucket list having only been added within the last few years. Health issues forced the usual far flung destinations a bit further down the list and this bubbled to the top. And I have to say, a vacation that only involved a 3 hour-ish flight and short car ride (short by our standards – which is to say not really THAT short at all) was a welcome relief. It’s the closest vacation to home we’ve ever taken and also the first time we checked a bag for our flight (really mostly for my medicine, but I did stuff it full of things I would not need anyway because why not?).
The color of the lakes in the Canadian Rockies are spectecular. Lake Louise, pictured above, has a number of hikes that leave from the Fairmont Hotel. We chose to hike to Lake Agnes, an easy 4.5 mile hike with 1300ft of elevation gain, and rewarded ourselves with lunch at the hotel afterward. Having hiked in Johnston Canyon, pictured below, earlier in the morning we were famished and lunch was delicioius!
Our favorite hike of the trip though was to Sentinal Pass. The trail winds through Larch Valley, pictured above, before the steep ascent up to the pass, pictured below. The trail is rated as difficult, which I think is an overstatement, but do come prepared. Multiple parties stopped us on our way down to ask if it was worth going all the way to the top of the pass. I think my smile says it all.
The views from the top of the pass are amazing and worth every step. I actually took a spill toward the bottom of the trail on the way back and scraped myself up a bit. Even so it’s still my favorite day from our trip. Since the trail to Sential Pass leaves from Moraine Lake, once back, we took a nice long break by the lake to soak it all in. Moraine Lake (below) was by far the favorite of all the lakes we visited and I can’t wait to go back one day to explore the area further.
Early morings are my favorite and our morning at Peyote Lake (pictured above and below) was no exception. We stopped by for sunrise as we drove the Ice Fields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. We ended up spending more time here than I thought as the views were gorgeous and we had the place to ourselves.
We spent our first morning in Jasper getting permits for Mount Edith Cavell (pictured above and below), which despite the smoke, was time well spent. The hike itself was wonderful but the best part was all the pika and marmots we stopped to watch along the way.
Overall, we had a really great time when it wasn’t smokey, but then it got really smokey and we did not have a good time. We were supposed to do a week in Banff and Jasper then head down to Glacier National Park but mother nature had other plans. Trying to make lemonade from the lemons we had been handed we high tailed it back to California a week early deciding to try our luck in Southern California instead.
I’ll do a seperate post for our Southern California road trip because photos of Canada and SoCal on a single post are just as jarring as the experience was in real life.