Full of wonder and awe, Banff National Park is, in my opinion, the perfect combination of cozy ski village, friendly locals, and majestic scenery. It seems every turn in the road revealed more awe-inspiring views of the Canadian Rockies. Here are a few highlights of our trip.
Took a short drive (approx. 40 mins) to Lake Louise. I was super pumped for this! I had been researching pictures online for over 3 years now, and had high expectations. We woke up at 6:30am to beat traffic, arrived early to secure a prime parking spot, sped walk through all the other visitors, and… arrived to a clearing of snow and ice! Where was the lake? Unbeknownst to us, Lake Louise typically remains frozen until July! There was even snow on trails surrounding the lake, and unfortunately, fam was unwilling to hike in the snow. Don’t get me wrong, it was still beautiful, but missing the crystal clear glacial waters and mountain reflections. On the plus side, there were far fewer visitors versus peak summer season.
PRO TIP: Busiest seasons for Banff are July-September, because this is when the lake is fully thawed. Banff in September is supposed to be gorgeous, because some of the trees change color in the fall.
Slightly disappointed, we continued on our way to the Athabasca Glacier. And lucky for us, stumbled across this beauty! No marking or signs off the road, just a small clearing for parking and a gorgeous lake! Barely any others around, and mirror smooth, this lake definitely lived up to the expectations I had for Banff.
PRO TIP: Did some investigating and it is called Waterfowl Lake.
Continued on our way to see Athabasca glacier. For some reason I am always a bit underwhelmed by glaciers. They are usually covered in snow, and it’s not advisable to walk on the actual thing. (unless you’re with a tour). Fortunately for us, there was a neat pool of glacial water right below- a great spot for a quick lunch. Then made our way back to town, and saw a grizzly bear off the side of the road! I think we saw three bears (a mamma and two babies!), 2 mountain goats, and several elk and deer throughout the trip.
PRO TIP: try out Bow Valley Parkway if you’re looking to spot wildlife on the side of the road. Look out for stopped cars along the way- it usually means there is wildlife nearby.
All in all, had a great time in Banff, and although initially I had thought it to be a “bucket-list location” (one-time visit), I fell in love with the charm and beauty of the town and will definitely be back in the future!