It was a short 71 mile drive from Calgary to Banff, AB, going from the northern plains and agricultural areas to the Canadian Rockies and into the Alpine town of Banff. There wasn't a large elevation change but the change in scenery was dramatic.
We are staying at the Tunnel Mountain Village II
campground inside Banff National Park
. When I made reservations the beginning of April, I mistakenly made reservations at the Tunnel Mountain Village II campground instead of the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court campground. The main difference being that Village II only has electricity (30 amps) hookups while the Trailer Court is full hookup, also 30 amps. The campsites in Village II are also a little smaller making positioning a little more critical while setting up. Never the less, we are fine here in Village II as our tanks will last a week if we are careful.
After arriving Wednesday we headed into town to get info from the visitor center so we could plan our stay. We had lots of planning time since it rained all day Thursday and Friday and we just stayed in the Mothership. That is one very nice thing about staying a week, we are not rushed and have plenty of time to see the things we want.
Saturday, we went back into town to do a little shopping and looking around. Banff reminds you of a typical alpine village with many small boutiques, shops, and sidewalk cafes as well as full-fledged restaurants. We started out about 10:00 a.m. and the traffic, both foot and vehicle, was very light but by early afternoon, it was very busy and crowded.
We then did some driving around to the various sites around town including Bow Falls
and the Vermillion Lakes
drive. Our main excursion was a 3.8 km hike along the shores of Lake Minnewanka
to Stewart Canyon
and back. It was a pleasant hike with great views of the lake which is very heavily used - lots of picnicking, boating, and hiking was going on. Doris did well on the hike though her stamina is still low and she was very tired by the end.
Sunday, we hiked the Fenland Trail
near Banff. About half of the 2.1 km trail is alongside a creek that feeds the three Vermillion Lakes we visited on Saturday. It was a nice leisurely walk except for the mosquitoes that wanted to tag along. They were not as bad as the hike near Glacier NP but just enough to be aggravating. We then went to the Cave and Basin Historical Site
which was the beginning of the Canadian National Park System. Though the cave spring and spring fed marsh surrounding the area are the main attraction, the display they have of the history of the national parks was very nicely done as well.
Monday, we took the 36 mile one-way trip up to Lake Louise so Misty would get to see it since we will not have time for her to tour much when we come back to Lake Louise after visiting Jasper. We will be taking her back to Calgary to catch her plane early the day after we get to Lake Louise. We had a thunderstorm early in the morning that delayed us but we finally left and were able to get to Lake Louise about 10:30 under overcast skies. I say this because blue skies give you a much more vibrant and vivid picture of any water feature. The pictures came out OK but would have been much better if we had clear skies. We also visited Moraine Lake while there and found it to be very pretty as well. One very interesting thing we saw was the wildlife overpasses. There were five of these built on the short 36 miles to enable wildlife to cross the highway safely. The roadsides are fenced so that the wildlife are funneled to these points. Several million dollars were spent in the effort.
Today, we didn't have much left that needed our attention in Banff but we did want to visit the Lower and Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon
. That is about 15 miles back up the Bow Valley Parkway
towards Lake Louise and you have to get there early to get a parking spot. Fortunately we were able to get there about 08:45 and easily found our parking spot. It was one of the prettiest hikes we have been on as we stayed beside a nice sized stream all the way up to the upper falls. If you are in the area, this is a must see as far as we are concerned. The lower falls is beautiful and about half-way to the upper falls. That last half has a lot of uphill but it is worth it! Overall it is a 4.8 km trip or a little over three miles.
Tomorrow we head up the Icefields Parkway for a one week stay in Jasper National Park. Hopefully we will be able to find a WiFi hotspot to make its posting like we did here in Banff.