Lake Louise, Banff and the Icefield Hwy to Jasper [aka The Canadian Rockies 🏔] – Part 1

Dear Diary, we are in the Canadian Rockies and it is everything you have every imagined and more. It is majestic, spell-binding, awe-inspiring and vast. The huge snow-capped craggy ‘rocks’ stretch as far as you eyes can see. They say that you sometimes have the best view in the mirror – and this is totally true. I know we have seen snow before, but when it falls and you are in it, in a gorgeous place you can’t help but oooh and aaarrrh ❄️ 🌞. The temperatures have gone from -6 to 20 over a few days, and we have had the most spectacular weather – sun, blue skies and a bit of snow to create the magic 💖

When we arrived at Lake Louise, it had been snowing for an hour or so, and everything looked so beautiful. The sun was trying to come out again and man it got cold quick! Even the small waterfalls along the road side were frozen.

It was busy at Lake Louise – I can see why everyone wants to visit here [or get married here, although I did wonder what the bride was thinking having her photos taken in a summer dress, in a winter climate (maybe she wasn’t expecting snow!). Her attendants put her jacket on in between pictures or snow boots out for her to walk in, they got her heels out for her to pose in 😂 ]. The lake when the sun’s out is a magnificent turquoise colour. There were a lot of people at the Chateau end, so we walked to the far end of the Lake (4km return), where it was less populated and Colin couldn’t help himself making a snow angel.

We stayed at the Lake Louise Inn and just as we were thinking of heading out for dinner, the whole of Lake Louise had a power cut! Hmmm, Colin says “don’t worry they’ll have emergency generators” … as it turns out they don’t! So the staff very quickly got their gazebo up and running with a BBQ, bar and a huge roaring fire pit – it was still freezing! We had a simple burger and fruit, and talked with a couple of guys from the UK, who were in Canada on a photographic essay. Had a laugh with them, and of course invited them to NZ to stay!!

After a lazy start to the morning and a late breakfast, we headed to Banff! I had only just said to Colin the night before, “I wonder if the car will show minus or does it just get to ‘0’ “. It showed the minus the temperatures very well 😂

The drive to Banff was lovely, and of course around every corner is another wonderful vista of huge mountains covered in snow, with blue skies completing the picture. Banff is a gorgeous place, a town that is similar to Queenstown … heaving with visitors, lots of tourist shops and a heap of eateries. We went to the oldest pub in Banff, the Rose and Crown and had soup to warm us up.

We had noticed on the highways that they have created all these over and/or under highways for the wildlife. I love that they have done this. I mean we put a huge road through their territory and then run them over all the time!! So now there are these passes all along the highway [and it is fenced], and if you are lucky enough you will see the wildlife.

While in Banff we visited the Cave & Basin National Historic Site [which is the first site and the beginning of Canada’s National Parks], and the first thing you notice is the smell of sulphur. The thermal pools, the smell and the therapeutic qualities of this place immediately reminded me on Rotorua. This pool is historically significant to the indigenous people, but more importantly a tincy tiny snails. You are not allowed to touch the water for fear that if everyone did, it would upset the delicate balance of the minerals [Colin!!!!!! 😆]

We drove back to Lake Louise on the secondary road so we could visit Castle Mountain – it was closed! We seem to be a couple of weeks late for a lot of things, including the fall colours across the Rockies. This is Castle Mountain from the highway.

As we left Lake Louise [heading towards Jasper] we had only driven 5km when we came across Herbert Lake, which gave us our first taste of how wonderful this trip was going to be. There was still snow on the ground here and it had turned icy, and I slipped on it! So not only am I travelling with a horrible head cold, I tried to give myself concussion 🤭 Colin is now on driving, just to be safe!!

It was to be the first of many stops, making a 3 hour drive, take 6 hours. I mean the plan was to stop as often as we wanted and because the weather was so kind to us it was very often. You probably need to drive both ways, as I am sure it looks totally different heading south again.

Crow foot glacier is meant to be the shape of a crow’s foot, but that was a bit much for me. There were plenty of crow’s in the car park claiming their name to fame! The lake was amazing and were we blessed with the most perfect time to catch the reflection of the mountains. It was beyond gorgeous and we have 300km to go! I made a pact with myself to only get my camera out every 5km!!

I can hardly believe I am driving through the famous Rockies …. and it is every bit as spectacular as you have been lead to believe.

… so that is part one, you can see that there was far tooooo much for this to be one entry into my diary!! Part 2 will follow as time permits!

One thought on “Lake Louise, Banff and the Icefield Hwy to Jasper [aka The Canadian Rockies 🏔] – Part 1

  1. What a wonderful blog! So much fabulous scenery one is lost for words. Thank you for taking the time to keep us up-to-date with your journey – it is totally fascinating and it makes us feel we are living the dream with you.💖

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