Canada – Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore, Calgary & Waterton

Our trip to Canada had been kept a secret for several months as we were trying to coordinate a surprise reunion with Ally Ranger (our travel buddy who we spent a few months in Africa with back in 2010). She was only expecting Lars who was flying in from Norway for a Canada getaway. Little did she realize that we had been coordinating in secret with Lars to make this trip a reality. Hence our mad dash around the States to get to Jasper in time to link up with Lars. The border crossing into Canada was smooth, and the route to Jasper was gorgeous so our long ride was enjoyable. Jasper is a cute town and after linking up with Lars, we planned to do a few easy hikes – Old Fort Point, Maligne Canyon, Valley of the five lakes, and Edith Cavell. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate as it poured down with rain for 2 days straight and the clouds moved in. We did manage to salvage our plans with a day relaxing at the Miette hot springs during the worst weather (it was actually snowing at the hot springs, making for a winter experience during summer). When the weather cleared up, we made a break for it, squeezing in several waterfalls (Athabasca, Sunwapta), and a short hike to Athabasca Glacier while admiring the scenery on the spectacular Icefields Parkway. Truly a stunning drive when the weather cooperates, and we got to spot several black bears soaking up the sunshine after several days of inclement weather. By mid afternoon, we arrived to Lake Louise in time to surprise Ally. Which was awesome…her reaction, shock, and happiness were priceless! Highlights of Lake Louise included the lake itself, Fairmont Chateau, and the drop dead gorgeous Moraine Lake. We saw a total of 5 grizzly bears (2 at our campsite and 3 by the roadside after leaving Moraine Lake), so heed those bear warnings! From Lake Lousie, we made our way to Banff where canoeing on the Vermillion Lakes, hiking up Tunnel Mountain, getting lost at the posh Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, and wandering up Johnson Creek valley were the highlights. From Banff, we made our way to Canmore (in Gaelic, Ceannmore means “big head”) where we tried poutine (french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy….yum), drank at a few breweries, hiked the pretty Higashikawa/Friendship Trail with nice views of the Bow River, and of course piled on top of the big head statue. From here, we made our way on the rugged Spray Lakes Trail towards Kananaskis, chock full of stunning scenery and wildlife…bears, moose, and deer, oh my! From Kananaskis, we drove towards Calgary and based ourselves out of Ally’s apartment for a few days. Calgary was gearing up for the annual “stampede” but we were one week too early for the festivities! Instead, we consoled ourselves with some amazing wings, breweries, food and fun. All too soon, we had to split from the group to continue our road trip, and we made our way down to Waterton, the Canadian side of Glacier Park. Unfortunately, the park had suffered extensive fire damage in 2017, and quite a few hikes and trails were off limits. Nevertheless, we were glad we visited because the highlight here was undoubtedly the phenomenal wild flower vista at Bison Paddock…colorful flowers as far as the eye could see! And that was it, we crossed the border back into the US after 11 fun days in Canada. What a special country and we look forward to coming back here again one day.

Crossing into Alberta, "Wild Rose Country" Yield to moose sign outside of Jasper Bull elk; Jasper Fire station; Jasper Old steam train next to the Jasper Train Station Coyote; Japser National Park View of Maligne Canyon on our hike from 6th bridge; Jasper Maligne Canyon, "the deepest canyon in the Rockies" A gushing river flows through Maligne Canyon And then there were 5! Lars joins our happy group on a train from Vancouver A snowy summer day as we decide to visit the Miette Hot Springs Everyone soaking up the warmth at Miette Hot Springs Who the hell convinced Becky to jump into the cold water pool? Lars, Luke and Alli join us for a summer day in Canada Waiting for the rain to end; Pocahontas Campground Yield to bighorn sheep sign Emerald green lake; Jasper National Park Elk getting soaked by the rain Group photo at the Valley of Five Lakes Curious chipmunk; Valley of Five Lakes Base of Edith Cavell mountain Mount Edith Cavell, named after an English nurse executed by the Germans for helping Allied soldiers escape Aboriginal pow wow members pose for photos; Jasper Urinals at Whistler Inn; Jasper St Mary & St George Anglican church; Jasper Luke and Lars stock up on beers; Jasper Our lovely Wapiti campsite After days of rain, a black bear emerges to soak up the sun Athabasca Falls Totem poles; Icefields Parkway Tangle Creek A picturesque drive from Jasper to Lake Louise Scenery on our Icefields Parkway drive Glacial pond at the base of Athabasca Glacier Lake Louise Ally's tent - no roughing it for her on this camping trip! A happy reunion with our TransAfrica peeps! Hallway at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Moraine Lake A grizzly sow with her two cubs; Moraine Lake An ingenious idea - animal "highways" to keep animals safe over a busy road Banff sign A duck tries to blend into its surroundings; Vermillion Lake Canoeing down Echo Creek towards 1st Vermillion Lake Group canoe shot on Vermillion Lake; Banff Canada goose St. Paul's Presbyterian Church; Banff Gift shop for the Cave and Basin National Historic Site; Banff Natural thermal mineral spring; Cave and Basin historic site Central Park gazebo; Banff Laughing over beers at Banff Ave Brewing Co. Squeezing onto a red chair; Banff Fairmont Banff Springs hotel Columbian ground squirrels; Village 2 Campground Ally and Lars prepare tasty burgers for dinner; Village 2 Campground Gorgeous sunset over the moutain range as seen from our Village 2 campsite A beautiful vista from the top of Tunnel Mountain Luke getting attacked by a bear; Johnson Canyon Alli, Lars, Robby and Luke stop for a photo at Johnson Creek Lower falls' pool; Johnson Canyon A long line of people wait to take a photo by the lower falls; Johnson Canyon The Bow River as it flows down Johnson Canyon Taking a photo at the upper falls; Johnson Canyon Historic gas pump; Johnson Canyon Pretty Canmore, a town with an easy going, pleasant vibe Luke, Robby and Lars with their beer flights; Half Hitch Brewing Company Half Hitch Brewing Company logo The Grizzly Paw - good beer aplenty in Canmore The old police station; Canmore Lars with his trademark ponder pose; Canmore Hand made soap for sale; Canmore Fairmont Banff Springs hotel Swimming pool with a view of the Rockies; Fairmont Banff Springs Robby and a bison go head to head; Fairmont Banff Springs A bighorn sheep munches on a flower; Two Jack Lake A baby bighorn sheep; Two Jack Lake A flock of bighorn sheep cause a traffic jam as tourists slow down to check them out Bighorn sheep by Two Jack Lake Lake Minnewanka hides an underwater ghost town which is perfectly preserved due to its glacial water A chipmunk stuffing its mouth with nesting supplies; Lake Minnewanka Welcome to Canmore Walking along Canmore's Friendship Trail Lars wades into the Bow River A gorgeous lookout spot on the Bow River; Canmore Friendship trail flower Spending a few hours at the Grizzly Paw brewery; Canmore Beautiful scenery on our drive along Spray Lakes Trail Stopping to admire the amazing view; Spray Lakes Trail Two bears foraging for food; Spray Lakes Trail A moose by the roadside; Spray Lakes Trail A black bear checks us out; Spray Lakes Trail Deer grazing by the roadside Elk crossing warning sign; Kananaskis Souvenir moose for sale; Sundance Lodges Alli and Luke smile outside their tipi; Sundance Lodges Hike above Barrier Lake; Kananaskis Stuffed in an Uber for an afternoon out in Calgary Robby posing with Shelby and Ally; Regal Beagle Pub About to devour 70 wings; Regal Beagle Laughing it up at Cold Garden brewery Cold garden brewery - where dogs are welcome Lots of beer to sample at Cold Garden Brewery Circle up, people! Ally making a Canadian feast for breakfast - sausage links, pancakes with home made maple syrup and coffee/tea Calgary Farmers' Market Posing near Waterton Springs campground Waterton's tiny harbor Waterton-Glacier international peace park sign Carved bear bench; Waterton Two kids walk their dog past a curious deer; Waterton View near the Prince of Wales Hotel; Waterton An iconic hotel since the 1920s, the Prince of Wales hotel in Waterton Interior view of the Prince of Wales hotel Magnificent view of Waterton Lake from the Prince of Wales hotel Wildflowers in bloom; Bison Paddock Cameron Falls; Waterton js photo galleryby v6.1


18 June: Crossed Canadian border, drove to Jasper. O/n at Wapiti Campground ($20 per night, up to 6 pax, for an unserviced site with fire pit, free hot showers, bathrooms, water, dump station)
19 June: Walk around Jasper, hike Old Fort Point trail. Pick Lars up from train station. Hike Maligne Canyon. O/n at Pocahontas Campground ($20 per night, up to 6 pax, for an unserviced site with fire pit, bathrooms, water, dump station)
20 June: Rainy cold weather today. Slept in and drove up to Miette Hot Springs for a soak. O/n at Pocahontas Campground.
21 June: Drove to the Valley of the Five Lakes for a hike, then to Mount Edith Cavell. Drove to Jasper for lunch, saw an Aboriginal Pow Wow. Hung out at a brewery. O/n at Wapiti Campground.
22 June: Drove towards Lake Louise. Enroute, stopped to visit Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Glacier. Surprised Ally at Lake Louise. Visited Lake Louise, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. O/n at Lake Louise Campground.
23 June: Drove towards Banff. Canoed in Vermillion Lakes, visited Cave & Basin museum (birthplace of Canada’s national parks). O/n at Village 2 Campground ($24 per night, up to 6 pax, for a site with electricity and no on site fire pit)
24 June: Early morning hike up Tunnel Mountain. After breakfast, drove to Johnson Canyon for a hike to the waterfalls. Drove to Canmore for sightseeing/drinkinng. Drove to Banff Springs Chateau (Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies”) for a tour. O/n at Two Jack Main Campground ($24 per night up to 6 pax, for an unserviced site with onsite fire pit)
25 June: Drove to Lake Minnewanka (underwater ghost town). Drove to Canmore for a poutine lunch. Walked the Higashikawa/Friendship Trail, drank at a brewery. Drove on Spray Lakes Trail towards Kananaskis and saw lots of wildlife on this road. O/n at Sundance Lodges ($35 per night for an RV up to 2 pax, for an unserviced site with onsite fire pit, hot showers, bathrooms, water, dump station)
26 June: Drove to Calgary with a brief hike to Barrier Lake enroute. Afternoon of eating and drinking around Calgary (wings and beers). O/n at Ally’s apartment in Calgary.
27 June: Drove to Calgary Farmers Market. Afternoon of eating and drinking around Calgary. Dropped Luke and Alli at the airport for their flight home. Drove to Okotoks. O/n at Walmart in Okotoks.
28 June: Drove to Waterton Glacier Peace Park. Visited Cameron Falls, Prince of Wales Hotel, and Bison Paddock (full of wildflowers). Drove to the Chief Mountain border crossing for an easy return to the States.

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