Banff National Park, Canada
So I’ve finally set aside time to share the details on my recent trip to Canada this month. Like everyone else who has heard of Banff, you were probably awe inspired like I was by a scenic and majestic picture of the famous Lake Louise. The lake is truly that blue and looks as if someone poured gallons and gallons of mouthwash in it, because how could something that natural be that perfect?! But it is perfect, and even better in person. There are plenty of other lakes nearby that deserve recognition too, like Moraine Lake. You can find just about everything in this little slice of Canada. There are hiking trails, bike trails, kayaking, hot springs (this is a must), gondolas, dining, shopping… what is there not to love?
Things to consider on your trip to Canada:
- Season. My friend and I visited in the beginning of June and there is still plenty of snow at higher elevation. Please note, your hiking trails will most likely have snow and/or AVALANCHES. Obviously hike with caution and there will be warning signs. As for me, the avalanches occurred well before my arrival and became a hiking obstacle in which we had to HIKE over where we were walking at level with the tops of trees, fun right? Also, Lake Louise had melted literally days before our arrival. My friend and I were watching live cams and sweating bullets hoping it would fully thaw ASAP because we didn’t want to miss out on the blue lakes.
- Grizzly Bears. Now I’m from the Desert so this is a foreign and interesting concept. Here’s my two cents: I did not (sadly) encounter a Grizzly Bear, but it is common and it’s safer to be prepared. There are bear sightings and warnings throughout different hiking areas. Some trails require you travel in a group of 4 or more persons for safety reasons. You can visit the National Park website for Banff and there will be updates and conditions on all the trails which will help you plan in advance. See link: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff
- Trails I hiked:
- Plain of Six Glaciers
- Fairmount Lookout
- Lake Agnes Tea House
- Rockpile Lookout
- Trails I hiked:
- Currency. Make sure to research the exchange rate before you go. This year is a great opportunity to visit Canada as the US dollar is stronger in comparison. I picked the easy way and pulled out cash via an ATM in the Calgary airport and I was set for the trip, bingo!
- Transportation. My flight from Phoenix to Calgary was great on two counts: the price and the duration. Short and sweet. My friend and I chose to rent a car so we wouldn’t be restricted to any one area. Banff is actually a small town and is surrounded by other parks and lakes. So if you want to explore the nearby attractions its worth it to keep a rental car for the duration of your stay. Consider visiting: Canmore, Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Kootenay National Park.
- Travel times:
- Canmore to Banff: 20 minutes
- Canmore to Lake Louise: 1 hour
- Lake Louse to Moraine Lake: 20 minutes
- Canmore to Calgary: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Canmore to Jasper: 2-3 hours (depending on where you want to go in Jasper. I wasn’t able to make it to Jasper but it is known for one of the best scenic highway drives.)
- Travel times:
- Lodging. I’m a budget traveler. Certain trips I’m willing to splurge and then there is some I want to save on. Bank account please meet my friend AirBnB. It’s safe, cute, easy, and affordable. My friend and I rented a basement suit of a lovely couple’s house in Canmore for roughly $400 total (4 nights). When looking in to your trip you will probably consider staying in Canmore versus Banff. Just note that Banff is a little more busier and pricier (its a tourist town, duh). But don’t let that fool you when it comes to Canmore. It’s such a cute town and if you stay there you have to check out the shops downtown.
- Dining. They’re a thousand different options within the town of Banff. In Banff an average meal could cost you $20-30 dollars per person. In Canmore, it’s a little cheaper but the downtown area still offers some fantastic menu options. Disclosure for vegetarians: there are limitations with restaurants as the majority cater to more meat lovers. My friend was able to find meals that she liked but we had to do a little bit of window shopping first. Research some menus on Yelp before you go.
Okay, now for the photo dump!