Road Trip Part V: Banff National Park

If you want to see vivid blue lakes and gorgeous mountain ranges, I recommend visiting Banff National Park. This was our last major stop of our cross-country cross-continent road trip. From Glacier National Park in Montana, we hopped the border to Alberta, Canada and headed on the Trans-Canada Highway towards Banff. 

We had planned to do a helicopter tour at Glacier but we had no luck finding a place. So on the way to Banff (as a redemption) we stopped at Canmore to finally get our helicopter tour! It was my first time flying in a helicopter so I was super nervous about getting motion sickness during the flight. However the 20 minute flight went by quickly and we got some great shots of Canmore and the Canadian Rockies during it! It was also our first glimpse of the glacial blue waters.

After that adrenaline rush of that heli-tour, we entered Banff National Park and headed straight to Moraine Lake. The road to the lake was a long and windy, and had just opened for the season a few days before. When I got a glimpse of that blue water, I got that giddy kid feeling. I couldn’t wait to see this glacially-fed lake in its entirely.

At Moraine we climbed up the nearby ‘Rockville’ which yielded an even better (and elevated) view of the lake. It definitely was worth the 2 stubbed toes I got from the climb.

Next we headed up Icefields Parkway, a byway that connects Banff with Jasper National Park with many scenic stops along the way. Our first stop was Nam-Ti-Jah Lodge at the foot of Bow Lake. When we pulled in, there was a line of cars parked along the road and a crowd of people along the field. Upon closer look we saw that people were looking at two brown bears! They (possibly a male and female) were just wondering along a couple hundred feet away from us. We’ve seen a few bears back in Yellowstone, but our view wasn’t as clear as this one! We got some great shots of the glacial landscapes at Bow Lake too.

Bow Summit with the view of Peyto Lake was next along Icefields Parkway. The viewpoint is just a quick 10 minute trek from the parking lot. Peyto Lake is known for its very bright turquoise color. But on this cold, cloudy and foggy day we were expecting the lake to be dull or still frozen even. When we reached the viewpoint, we were completely wrong. The water was unrealistically bright blue, and I think the foggy grey weather made it pop even more.

We drove back to our Airbnb in Canmore and made ourselves a well-deserved home cooked dinner. For dessert I treated myself with some Canadian snacks: ketchup chips and Kinder Surprise eggs. The next day we made our way to Lake Louise, our last stop in Banff.

There were a lot of people there at Lake Louise, as it is a popular tourist attraction and hotel location. Canoeing was the only thing we had in mind at the lake. The rental price was pretty steep: $85 CAD for an hour, but it was well worth crossing an item off the bucket list for. I was hesitant of bringing my camera aboard because I was afraid we might capsize, but Sam and Halie were excellent rowers and kept me bone dry.

I had an overall blast at Banff National Park. At first Banff wasn’t part of our road trip itinerary; we were originally going to spend a few extra days in Seattle. I was hesitant when Sam pitched the idea of going to Banff, but I’m glad I agreed and took the extra effort to visit this wonderful wonder.