Worth the trip?
Yes! The Canadian Rockies have stunning scenery and offer activities at all fitness levels. I visited Banff and Jasper National Parks in 3 days, stopping along highway 93 to experience some of the major highlights. Three days is not nearly enough time to truly enjoy all the sights, I would recommend at least three days in either Banff or Jasper. In late May, the weather was very unpredictable; Banff was cool with lots of sunshine, Jasper was cold and cloudy, and there was snowfall around Lake Louise. Due to snow and bears, not all of the trails are open but the only trail on my list that was inaccessible was Parker Ridge. This Texas girl does not know how to walk on two feet of snow! Banff & Jasper are one of those places that beckon for a second or third visit.
Where to sleep:
In Jasper, I stayed at Whistler’s Inn, a quaint hotel in the center of town. The best part of Whistler’s Inn is the location as it is within walking distance to restaurants and shops; it also had clean rooms and friendly staff. I also stayed one night at Lake Louise Inn. Lake Louise Inn is a fairly large complex with hotel rooms, suites, and condos. The condo was nice and comfortable, nothing luxurious but a very nice place to spend a couple of days in. Of course, if you are not on a budget, nothing can beat a room at the Fairmont Chateau. Accommodation options outside of the busy summer and ski seasons are somewhat limited but can still be found at various price points. If you plan on arriving late at night, I would reserve ahead of time so that you’ll have a guaranteed place to sleep, especially for popular places like Lake Louise.
After a long day of driving and hiking there are few things better in Canada than poutine. The Glacier Saloon at the Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise offers great views, good food, and stays open late. Dinner here is a great way to experience this historic hotel if you are not a guest. Another notable meal was breakfast at the Whiskeyjack Lodge. They have a nice breakfast buffet special to go along with the gondola ride. I would also recommend Jasper Brewing Co for a great casual dinner. I also had to make a stop at a Tim Hortons, but aside from the convenience, I don’t see what the fuss is about- maybe it’s a Canadian thing.
Don’t leave without:
There are so many sights I hope everyone experiences, but one of my favorites was Moraine Lake. There is a scenic winding road leading up to the lake. I visited this spot just after sunrise when the tops of the mountain peaks had a warm, golden glow.
Some of my other favorites include:
Maligne Lake- Boat excursion. On route, bears were eating berries by the road, the guides try to make the trip fun and seem to really spend a lot of time getting to know the area.
Icefield walk- This is a nice tame experience compared to other glaciers I’ve visited but it’s still very cool to walk out on a small section of the glacier. They also offer an extended tour which looks really cool if you have the proper gear and a whole day. Take an empty bottle of water with you and taste the refreshing crystal clear glacier water!
Johnston Canyon hike to Upper falls- This is a hike the entire family can do! The catwalks and trails are well maintained and the view is nice all the way to the upper falls. Beware this trail can get very crowed so start early!