Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
Once you have strolled through the streets of Banff you can start exploring its beautiful nature spots around the town. Make sure these places below are part of your awesome road trip through the Rockies. Make sure you have a mix tape with epic road trip songs ready.
Vermillion Lakes : Before you enter the town of Banff you can make a right to drive to Vermillion Lakes. A great place to make a stop and snap some pictures all year round.
Mount Norquay Scenic Drive : Drive up this road to have a nice scenic view of the town.
Lake Minnewanka : Follow the Lake Minnewanka Road off Highway 1 to reach the lake. Once you park your car at the parking lot you can take a Banff Lake Cruise if you like but I would rather just spend my afternoon at Johnson Lake or Johnston Canyon instead.
Johnson Lake : If you decide to visit Johnson Lake for the afternoon then I can definitely recommend to hike to the back of the lake. There is this swinging rope spot you can have a lot of fun with. Try to go in the morning as the sun is still on your side of the lake. Fun guaranteed as long as you don’t let the rope slide through your fingers while you jump, right Julia ?
You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there is no joy in living your whole life on the ground.
Hiking around Lake Louise is worth your time.
If you want an easy stroll you can start with the lake view trail.
For those who don’t have that much time you can go try the Fairview Lookout. An half an hour climb to a magnificent lookout view over the Lake and the Fairmont (all year). This trail starts close to the canoe docks, on your left from the lake with the Fairmont behind you.
The more extensive hikes are the ‘Plain of Six Glaciers’ , ‘The Big Beehive’ and the trail to ‘Lake Agnes‘. All these hikes are accessible during summer only and start on the right side of the lake (if you are facing the lake with the Fairmont behind you). Make sure you stop at the teahouses for a nice little break.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
We all have seen Lake Louise.
If it isn’t with our own eyes, then through a postcard from your aunt Suzy or from a cover photo of your ‘1001 things to see before I die’ guide that is catching dust on your shelves.
The pictures don’t lie, Lake Louise is a gorgeous place to be. It just gets REALLY crowded during the summer months. Don’t be surprised to see a whole herd of people trying to take their perfect picture of the lake. Golden advice here again is … come early to see the lake and go hiking afterwards.
Bring a visit to the Chateau Lake Louise while you are there.
During the summer months you can go hiking (More information about this in my next blog) or canoeing (although Moraine Lake has cheaper rates).
During the winter months you can go hiking, skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, ice hockey… plenty of choices for the Canadian sport fans there but I recommend to try them all. It’s pretty neat to play ice hockey with your friends on the frozen lake while the sun is setting over the mountains.
Lake Louise village is right next the highway 1 where you can buy groceries, liquor and your typical souvenirs. There are some bars and restaurants there too.
HI Hostel Lake Louise has a nice restaurant where you order good food for a decent price.
For pizza, Timberwolf is your go to place.
Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing
One of the most memorable things I have done this summer or even in my life are climbing mountain tops in the Canadian Rockies. After hours of sweating, heavily breathing and cursing I managed to reach the top and an inevitable smile appears when I look at my comrades. The view up there makes you forget about all the hard work you’ve put into this climb. For a second you realise how quiet it is up there and how small you really are in this universe. You take a breath and after that follows a photo shoot with you and your friends before having one of the most scenic lunches of your life. Eifel Peak and Temple are two of those views.
Eifel Peak : The first hike of my season in the mountains… I wasn’t really prepared for this intense hike but I managed to make it to the top in three hours. To get there you follow the trail to Larch Valley that starts at the canoe docks. From Larch Valley you follow the trail to Sentinel Pass but on the way there you will pass three benches. At those benches, make a left and walk on making your way down until you reach a river. Cross the river and scramble your way up to the other side of the ‘valley’. There you will see a path going direction the mountain. Follow the path that changes into a bunch of broken rock fragments until you find your first inukshuk on your way up mountain. There are multiple paths that lead to the top. Enjoy the spectacular view !
Temple : And for those who really want to go all the way there is Temple. A 4-5 hour climb that starts at the canoe docks. Follow Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. At Sentinel Pass you make a right and from there on you can follow the little markers (studying the track of the hike is strongly recommended). The hike is quite intense and has a vertical climb in it. Check weather conditions because the summit of Temple is only accessible during a very short window each year. Typically late July to Mid August. I missed this window by two weeks and ended up 400 meters from the summit. My finish line was thwarted by an ice field that was created a couple days before I hiked up there. A major bummer but still a great accomplishment and splendid views.
I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy”
If you have a couple of hours and the easy hikes around Moraine are not enough for you then it might be your lucky day because there are some intermediate hikes that take you a couple of hours to complete.
Larch Valley : This trail is a very popular one. Starting point is at the canoe docks. The trail basically consists out of a bunch of nasty switchbacks that take you all the way to Larch Valley. But the view is fantastic, especially if you come in September when the larch trees turn golden, a must see but make sure you come early. There are special buses that run between Moraine Lake and the Lake Louise Overflow parking (Highway 1) during those few weeks in September.
Sentinel Pass : If you want to continue on this trail you will hike all the way to Sentinel Pass. From here you have a beautiful view over Larch Valley on the one side and Paradise Valley on the other side. Definitely worth the stretch if you ask me.
The Tower of Babel : This is one is a little tricky. The trail for the Tower of Babel isn’t really the greatest one because there is no actual trail. You start at the parking lot and start on the rock pile trail, then take a left to continue on the Consolation Lake Trail and once you crossed the rocks that washed out the path take a right through the trees. There you will encounter more rocks and the start of your scramble all the way up to the Tower of Babel. It is an intense scramble but the view over Moraine Lake is just breathtaking.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
If you choose Moraine Lake as your starting point of a hike, you are a in for a treat.
There is a hike for every kind of hiker.
These hikes only accessible during the summer season (June-October).
If you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t like to hike all that much than you can hike the rock pile or do the lakeshore trail.
Lakeshore Trail : a nice flat trail along the lake with nice views of the ten peaks and people enjoying their canoe ride. The trail start next to the canoe docks.
Rock pile : The classic stroll. The trail starts on the parking lot next to the public toilets. Make your way up and take that money shot that used to be on the back of a Canadian 20 dollar bill
Consolation Lake : A nice and easy hike that leads you to quiet spot in between the mountains. Please make sure you are traveling in a group of four as there might be a bear warning in this area. This trail starts at the parking lot where the Rock pile trail starts. A little further down the trail there will be a trail continuing on the left. Follow that trail over the rocks that washed out the trail. A little further you’ll find a path again.