Banff 3 Parading the Crown
Parading the Crown
If the crown fits, wear it. Now that you are committed to visiting Banff and the beautiful park surrounding it. Let's explore these crown jewels together. Ensure your camera is fully charged before leaving.
For our family, Johnston Canyon is a favorite hike and is only a 30-minute drive from Banff. This hike is undoubtedly the busiest in the park because it is easily accessible for children and a moderately easy hike to the waterfalls and inkpots. It pays to pack a picnic if you plan to hike all the way and familiarize yourself with my previous post about what to wear. Along this hike, there are many look-out points, catwalks, and graded trails that follow the gorge where forces of nature whittled away on the canyon bedrock to make way for the thundering spring runoff. It is a sight to behold. And it is free to enjoy.
Lake Minnewanka is only 3 miles from Banff and a favorite destination for hikers who follow the clearly marked trail around the northern shore. The glacial lake is anchored to a beautiful mountain, fed by several rivers, and has been home to aboriginal tribes for 10,000 years. Surrounding mountains include Mt. Costigan, Saddle Peak, Mt. Girouard, Cascade Mts., and Spectral Peak.
Traveling on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 from Banff to Lake Louise takes about 40 minutes, make sure you stop at Castle Junction, this splendid mountain aptly named Castle Mt. is a perfect place to stop before you reach the stunning Chateau Lake Louise. While the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is grand and dark, the chateau is light and airy, tall and elegant, and gracefully bows to Lake Louise's eastern shore. Like its sister in Banff, the chateau hotel was destroyed by fire in 1924 and quickly rebuilt and was a Canadian Pacific Railway project. This site was also incorporated into the UNESCO Heritage Site and is part of Banff National Park. Originally built as a summer venue, it was fully winterized in 1982 and is now an all-season destination. Home to 539 luxury rooms, this exclusive hotel ensures your stay exceeds all of your expectations. The lake surrounding the chateau hotel is another jewel in the crown, and this shade of intense turquoise is impossible to fabricate.
If you only manage to visit these four destinations (including Banff), you have already witnessed something spectacular. If your schedule allows, visit a lesser-known attraction called Bankhead. It is close to Banff and Lake Minnewanka and is a portal in time to a coal mining town that mined Cascade Mt. to fuel the railways. Now it is possible to wander on the interpretive trail and glimpse a part of history.
The Cave and Basin is the birthplace of Canada's national parks and a place to enjoy nature in its pristine beauty. Located at Cave and Basin are the therapeutic hot springs. Only a 5-minute drive from Banff, this is a must-do destination. (Check for hours of operation) Soaking in these mineral-rich waters benefits blood circulation, reduces stress, promotes deep sleep, reduces pain, and is a tonic for skin irritations. It's also fun for only $8CAD. Indigenous have traded at the hot springs for millennia and appreciated its healing waters too. Other hot springs to visit, Radium* Hot Springs, Banff Upper Hot Springs, Miette, which are all part of UNESCO. Miette was Jasper National Park's best-kept secret until just now. (*Under construction).
At one time, the back of our twenty-dollar bill featured Lake Moraine and is located close to Lake Louise. Its iconic azure waters are fed by glacial waters that do not crest until mid to late June. It derives its unique color from rock flower continually deposited by the glacial runoff and the refraction of light. This attraction happens to be a favorite with my dear mother-in-law and is probably the most photographed spot kept in our family album.
Once you've seen all there is to see, there are many activities you can explore. Please visit https://www.banfflakelouise.com and choose the activities best suited to you and your family. Among many, these are mountain climbing for novices and experts. If you're brave, try ice climbing, if not relax in a horse-drawn carriage or a scenic sleigh ride. Skiing, boarding, heli-skiing, cross-country skiing are very popular. Once in a lifetime, adventures are mushing on a dog sled, taking a helicopter tour, or climbing the ice fields. Highly recommended are walking and hiking trips, gondola rides, scrambling up a mountain, and indulging in a cuisine expedition. If you want to get wet, try whitewater rafting, stand up paddling, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, or taking a boat tour. For less sporty adventures, there's relaxing in a spa, meditative yoga retreats, and visiting guided historic sites. Eating, enjoying art, and music, horseback riding, wagon trail rides are ideal for families. At the end of your day, enjoy a hot cup of tea and a biscuit. But don't attempt them all in one day, you'll be exhausted.
Remember to bring your park pass!
Disclaimer: I am not paid to promote any of these destinations or activities. I would simply like for you to enjoy these virtual outings with me.
Say tuned via my newsletter, next time we’ll parle français in Montreal, QC.
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