This post is a work in progress.
So lately I have been getting requests from many of my Thai friends to tell them about places that they should visit when they go to Banff National Park, or Jasper national park. So I decided to do a blog post about places that I really like in the Canadian ROCKIES!!! Unfortunately there will not be much about Jasper National Park because I don't know it well enough. Most of this blog will be about Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, Golden, and Mount Revelstoke National Park, hot spring tour, and Kananaskis Country. This is not a comprehensive guide, I probably miss tons of stuff and most of these places are not very well known among foreigners.
I will not be writing too much into winter sports (eg. Sunshine Ski resort or Lake Louise), but if you beginners decided to go skiing/snowboarding in the Rockies, I recommended you to take a lesson or two at your local hill before going so that you could enjoy the mountain a bit more.
Let start with A MAP! Here you will see some of the locations that I have been, and some of them are linked with my photos as well. Click on the location bubble in the map to find out more about each place!
Please feel free to leave a comment (let me know where to visit too!). Note that this is a live blog and a live map. I may add content at anytime! Also many of these photos are from when I just start shooting... I feel like some of the photos are not as good as I would have like them to be. Also, enjoy the photos!
So many beautiful scenery, amazing wild life, and routes to take!!!!
I guess since I live in Edmonton, I'll start there. There are pretty much 3 ways you could drive to the Rockies from Edmonton, you could take the yellowhead highway to Jasper, drive down highway 2 to Red Deer --> Rocky Mountain House --> Highway 11 to Columbia ice field parkway (Highway 93), or drive down to Calgary --> Canmore --> Banff. I have not drive the ice field parkway myself (I really should sometime). I also should go to Jasper more often.... Sad
Anyway! From Calgary there are many places that you could visit within an hour drive (so jealous) like Canmore, Banff National Park, and Kananaskis County. Within a few hour drives you can go to Kootney National park, Yoho National Park, Mount Revelstoke National Park, and Gracier National Park, all of which are great to visit.
These are some of the places I have been, and things I have done.
Banff National Park
From Calgary to Banff National Park - Highway 1 or Highway 1A - both routes have great scenery. If you decided to go via highway 1A you will pass by Cochrane. You could do a quick stop at Mackay's Cochrane ice cream shop for great summer treat. Highway 1A will join with highway 1 in Canmore before you enter Banff National Park. I have seen many wildlife on highway 1A compare to highway 1.
Photos: Highway 1A scenery and a herd mountain sheep.
What to do around Town of Banff?
Visit Bow Falls, go ice skate behind Fairmont hotel (see map), eat good Japanese food (especially Banff Sushi House AKA Sushi Train) , visit moo ice cream shop, warm up at the hot spring, and take a walk along Bow Avenue. Apart from this there are so much more to do in Banff! Go Go snowboarding at Sunshine (Not my prefer place but ok), visit the historical Banff hot spring museum, take a romantic walk along Banff avenue at night, visit Lake Minnewanka, and look for a nice place to hike around Banff. Sorry I actually don't have many good photos around the town of Banff.
There was this one time that I got to see a bear cub up close as in it walked right by my car. I also had a chance to spend Canada Day in Banff and get to see the spectacular fireworks in the heart of the Rockies. I love Banff Sushi House, it's a small restaurant that seat only about 20 people, but the quality of food here is very good. The main attraction of Banff Sushi House is that its a conveyor belt style, but with toy train that runs around on the track carrying sushi as its cargo.
Photos: Bear cub, Banff Sushi House, and Maguro sushi!!!
(For those of you who don't know why some people call Banff a 'Japanese town', you should read up on the history of Japanese people in the Canadian Rockies.).
Short Hike, Long Hike, Epic View
This Place Got It All
(I just made a Haiku...) If you have a chance you should also visit Johnston Canyon for a nice hike/walk. You get to walk right in the canyon too! If you hike further you will reach the ink pots, and a 360 view of the mountain. This is a great place for a picnic before hiking back.
Photos: Ink Pots, upper Johnston fall, and the Johnston Canyon trail
Moraine Lake and Lake Louise
Both of these lakes are very nice. Lake Louise can be access all year round, while Moraine Lake road opens late spring to mid October. There are hiking trails all around both two lakes. There is also Lake Louise ski resort, which I preferred over Sunshine. It always a stunning view of Lake Louise from the top of the mountain. Also... chipmunks everywhere.
Photos: Moraine Lake, and Tiny McFatty by the Lake
Yoho National Park
From Lake Louise, continue west (on the way to Golden/Kicking Horse) on Trans Canada Highway (1) to Field, BC. Here there is this really awesome lake.... Emerald Lake. This is one of my most favourite lake in the Rockies. The colour of this lake is absolutely stunning, all year around. If it is sunny then I highly recommend going for a canoe around the lake. You won't be disappoint. There are many hiking trails as well as walk way around the lake. There is also Emerald lake lodge if you want to stay over night, as well as a restaurant. Close by, there is a natural bridge that is quite neat to visit.
Photos: Grey Emerald, Canoe on the lake, Emerald Lake Lodge, Canoe in the Sunny Emerald, Emerald Dream Walk, walking trail beside the lake, and the Natural Bridge
Known for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and white water rafting, golden is definitely an amazing place to visit whether you are looking to do winter sport or just want to do a road trip.
Summer in Golden - Do go up the Kicking horse mountain and hike along the mountain ridge (I have done this during summer, and during winter, with my snowboard ofcourse). The view here is just breath taking. There is also a grizzly bear refuge (BOO). There are other activity here as well like zipline and water rafting.
Winter in Golden - Hit up the slope at Kicking Horse Mountain. Party it up?
Photos: Boo the Grizzly, Kicking Horse Mountain Ridge, and Handsome Dude on the Ridge
Revelstoke and Mount Revelstoke National Park
Highly recommended if you are driving to Vancouver, or just bored of Banff/Lake Louise. Revelstoke National Park is something else. Not too far from Golden, continue west on Highway 1 you will arrive at Revelstoke. On the way here I also stop by the Giant Cedars Nature Trail. For those of you who love big trees this is pit stop is a must. Short but great nature walk among some giant cedars. In Revelsoke, you can stay the the party town, Revelstoke. The town official motto is 'work hard, play hard'. Yea.....
Here you can drive to almost the peak of Mount Revelstoke during summer. Here you will see many different view, including mountain ranges as far as your eyes can see, and the meadow and ponds near the summit will leave you in awe. If you decided to go during winter, make sure to hit the slope at Revelstoke Mountain Resort for some awesome powders and deep steep bowl.
Photos: From Golden, Giant Cedars Nature Trail, pond at the summit, summit meadow, and mount Revelstoke view
Hot Spring Tour - Arrow Lakes
From Revelstoke, drive south on highway 23 you will find yourself in the middle of nowhere... I mean the amazing Upper Arrow Lake. This lake got some amazing history, and there is actually a town underneath the water! Highway 23 connecting Revelstoke to Nakusp is very unique in a way, as it got a two ferries as part of the highway system. These are free ferry that you can take from one side of Arrow Lake to the other.The ferry connecting Revelstoke is called Upper Arrow Lake Ferry (also check out BC's other inland ferry). The view from the tiny ferry is seriously out of this world. Once you cross the lake, there are two main hot springs locations, Halcyon and Nakusp. Both of these location have resort style (think swimming pool), and also many local natural hot springs spots, many of these will require you to hike into the mountain (I have yet to do this).
From there you can take the ferry back or you can drive south (Will take couple of days to do a hot spring loop, take about 9 hours of driving time, see map and check ferry schedule) to Nelson, BC, and visit the close by Ainsworth Hot Spring. From there you could do a loop south to Creston via highway 3A, then north to Cranbrook via highway 95 to Fairmont hot spring, and Radium hot spring (Kootney National Park). From there you could drive back to Banff National park.
Photos: View from upper arrow lake ferry, Halcyon hot spring, upper arrow lake ferry on the way back during sunset, and radium hot spring (Kooteney National Park).
Kananaskis Country Provincial Park System
GO EXPLORE THE FOOTHILLS (See map)! There are more to the Rockies than our national parks. Kananaskis Country is one of the best place you could visit within an hour drive from Calgary. Kananaskis country in a park system consisted of several provincial park (no entrance fee). Situate here are the beautiful Kananaskis golf course (which was sadly destroyed during the flood a few years ago, but it is in a rebuilding period), Nakiska ski resort, and several beautiful lakes such as spray lake (spray lake provincial park), and the upper and lower Kananaskis lake (Peter Lougheed provincial park).
The most common route (see map) is to take a detour route from highway 1, go south on highway 40 (passing Nakiska and the golf course), then join with the Kananaskis lakes trail. Here you can go south to visit the Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes, and then drive back up north on Smith-Derrien Trail to Canmore, with an option to visit many places along the way such as mount Shark and Spray Lake.
Photos: Canmore View Point, Lower Kananaskis Lake x2, Mountain Sheep on Highway 40, Spray Lake, and Lower Kananaskis Lake
Extra Photos: unknown water fall, along highway 1, and an Elk in Jasper
Please leave me any comment if you have any questions!
Here is the link to the rest of the gallery.