With ubiquitous images of beaches and sun so often being associated with vacations, it is such a pleasure to spend time with people who really love snow and everything the mountains have to offer!
I have just concluded a rather in-depth journey through my Canadian Rockies with an enthusiastic group of well-travelled visitors.
They came for winter and indeed that is what they found…
From their late arrival into Calgary airport (YYC) we even glimpsed the Northern Lights during the 1.5 hour drive to beautiful Banff.
Regardless of fatigue, arriving to Banff in mid-December means Christmas lights, white streets and warm rooms.
The following morning the sun peaked up around 8:30 and the temperature was a dry minus 5. Perfect. Of course we toured the town, but as this was a winter trip, we drove east to my home town of Canmore specifically to visit the Canmore Nordic Centre and to see world class X-country skiing and biathlon in action!
We also set foot in our own Kananaskis Provincial Park (the ‘local’s’ park).
During the afternoon my passengers enjoyed Banff on a quieter day before the weekend ski rush.
The following morning was a look back in time. First thing we enjoyed a sleigh ride from one of the oldest stables in the region and then warmed up in the Upper Hot Springs – Banff was first created as a park due to the natural warm water.
Leaving Banff, we made a morning stop on Mount Norquay for the best views of town. Next we travelled the ‘old’ 1A highway via Johnston Canyon to the Lake Louise Ski Resort for lunch in the very busy Lodge of the 10 Peaks.
From the ski resort we turned north on highway 93 – the Icefields Parkway. Widely known as one of the most beautiful drives on earth, I particularly love this trip in winter. There are no services (except the odd outhouse) and the views are nothing short of spectacular. We even watched ice-climbers on a frozen waterfall.
Later that afternoon we arrived to beautiful Jasper, the most important train hub in the Rockies.
On our Jasper day, the weather was again perfect. Cold, but certainly bearable and the entire group followed me out onto the ice on Pyramid Lake :).
We did another walk to Lake Beauvert and visited the Jasper Park Lodge. In the afternoon some of the group put on ice cleats and walked into Maligne Canyon!
After a second warm night in Jasper we returned to the Icefields Parkway and drove south to Lake Louise – The Jewel of the Canadian Rockies. After lunch in the village was made an excursion over the highest point on the Trans Canada Highway and descended down Kicking Horse Pass into British Columbia.
By 4 pm we were settled into the mighty Chateau Lake Louise for two nights of winter bliss.
The group enjoyed a heritage tour of the Chateau and then we had cocktails around a fire and even engaged in a sing-along!
On the free day at the Lake, we walked across the ice for the best photos back at the Chateau and some brave souls even tried snow-shoeing in the afternoon. I went ice skating in the evening, but that is a sport best learned from childhood.
Finally we drove east, back through Banff National Park and into Calgary. Remaining consistent with the winter theme, we visited Canada Olympic Park and the Speed Skating Oval at the University before saying a sad farewell at the airport.
Thank you to my fellow travellers for a lovely trip. I fully expect to see you back here in the near future.