Banff & Jasper National Parks
Lots of friends & family were asking about our recent trip to Canada so I recapped it below. If you're like me and you'd prefer visuals - skip the novel below and check out the pictures from our trip!
Day 1: Matt & I flew into Calgary and quickly rented a car to drive up to Banff, Alberta (1hr 30min drive). Time flies because even the drive to Banff is beautiful. We checked into The Moose Hotel & Suite which is right in the middle of town. We stayed three night in Banff which allowed us to easily take day trips. On our first night, we had dinner at the famous Grizzly House - an exotic meat fondue restaurant (we tried shark, kangaroo, buffalo, alligator, and frog!). Fun fact: Each table has a phone and a number assigned to it - back in the day it used to be a hotspot for swingers :) Day 2: We hiked over 10 hours - my favorite day of the trip. We drove from Banff to Lake Louise (1hr+) and was able to park right next to the famous Chateau Lake Louise (arrived around 8:30 am). We quickly left the base of the Lake (packed with visitors) and started hiking up to the 'Tea House' (all cash BTW). From the Tea House, we made our way to The Little Beehive and then to The Big Beehive (all marked trails and easy to find). After The Big Beehive Matt convinced me to hike up to Devil's Thumb - an unmarked trail that locals recommended. We were the only people on the trail - which was an early hint that it was going to be challenging. The last 10% of the climb was a scramble. I was ready to turn around but Matt helped me finish the climb (my knees were literally shaking it was so steep). Long story short - we made it to the top. Proud to have witnessed a view of Lake Louise that many people skip out on - the pictures below don't do it justice. We made it back down by 7 PM - grabbed a quick dinner and headed towards Moraine Lake. Our GPS told us it would take 70+ mins but it only took us 35. Oh yeah, it stays light out until 10 PM in Alberta! After a long day or hiking, we only stayed at Moraine Lake for an hour or so (sadly, it was gorgeous - but it gives us a reason to go back!). Day 3: We stopped by Johnston Canyon on our way to Golden, B.C.. The ice-blue canyon water is beautiful - and worth a stop - but it's pretty crowded because there is an easy trail along the canyon (we hiked to the lower waterfall within 20 mins). We booked whitewater rafting that morning so we had to rush Johnston Canyon to drive to Golden, B.C. by 1 PM. We booked with a company called Hydra since they had access to Kicking Horse river (class 3 & 4 rapids) - highly recommend - ask to ride with Kyle! Day 4: Canada Day! We booked our trip without knowing it was Canada's 150th birthday - surprise! We woke up early to start our 4 hr drive to Jasper National Park. 80% of the drive is along the Iceland Parkway which is famous for its breathtaking views. We stopped 5+ times just to take in the vista points. Peyto Lake was my favorite of the day. Along the way, we saw two black bears and a moose (Matt's highlight of the trip)! After 4+hr of driving, we made it to the small town of Jasper for their Canada Day Parade. We ate at their local pizza shop and our waitress recommended that we hike to Old Fort Point. It started slow but really picked up at the end - especially when we crossed paths with another bear and her cub (yikes! - don't worry we keep a safe distance and had bear spray). The hike ended with a quick rain storm and a rainbow over Jasper! We ended our only night in Jasper at the local brewery and then watched the Jasper firework show. Day 5: We headed to Maligne Lake (1hr+ drive from Jasper) and rented a canoe for the day. It was a nice break for our tired legs. Matt brought our hammock and we took a break midday to snooze a bit. The lake is huge - we didn't even make it to the famous 'Spirit Island' but we did make it back in time to stop by Maligne Canyon on the way home. The parking lot looks like a tourist zoo but once you start hiking down the canyon it's incredible. Most people stop at the vista points but if you venture off the main path you'll come across some incredible spots. By the time we made it back to the town of Jasper it was 10 PM and we had to drive back to Banff to catch our flight the next day. Matt powered through 3+hrs hours of driving through the night (thanks, love). Can't believe it took us so long to visit you, Canada! You look damn good for 150. We'll be back soon!
That beautiful turquoise lake is Lake Louise. These pictures were taken from Little Beehive. Across the way you'll see Big Beehive.
View of Lake Louise from Little Beehive.
View from Devil's Thumb! Lake to the left is Agnes Lake - lake to the right is Louise.