Posts Tagged With: alberta

Kootenay National Park

We actually went to Kootenay National Park before my parents met us to visit Banff and Jasper, but we went back for a quick visit with Mom and Dad so I decided to write about it last in my series of posts about our time in the Canadian Rockies.

Prior to heading to Banff we stayed at Redstreak Campground in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia. This campground is part of Kootenay National Park. The campsites were huge and Jesse was excited that we had trees where we could set up the slack line kit.

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The campground is set up high above the town of Radium Hot Springs and the views of the town below were beautiful.

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There were also big horn sheep frequently hanging out at the campground.

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We hiked to Dog Lake one evening. It started pouring when we arrived at the trailhead, but quickly stopped so we were able to hike, but the hike was super muddy. There were a couple of suspension bridges over the Kootenay River, then the rest of the hike was through the woods until you get to Dog Lake. The total hike was 3.2 miles out and back.

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Kootenay River

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The kids thought the bridge was pretty cool, but the muddy hike, not so much. Jesse complained most of the way. ūüėČ

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Dog Lake

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On the way back to the campground we stopped at this beautiful viewpoint!

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Kootenay Valley Viewpoint

Kootenay River is such a brilliant shade of turquoise blue, especially on a sunny day.

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Kootenay River

When we went back to visit Kootenay with my parents we first stopped at the Continental Divide. At this point the rivers on the east side flow towards the Atlantic and the rivers on the west side flow towards the Pacific. This point was also the province line between Alberta and British Columbia, and the line that separates the 2 nationals parks, Banff and Kootenay.

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Continental Divide

Then we did a short, easy 1.2 mile out and back hike to the Paint Pots which were basically mud pots that look like paint.

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Paint Pots

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Paint Pots

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More gorgeous views along the hike.

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That wraps up my posts about our time in the Canadian Rockies. I was sad to see that come to an end. It’s hard to describe in words just how amazing that part of the world is. How can we ever top that adventure?

 

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Icefields Parkway and Jasper National Park

We left the RV at the campground in Banff, and took a couple of days to drive up the Icefields Parkway and see Jasper National Park. This is yet another thing that you might want to add to your bucket list. The Icefields Parkway is 230 kilometers (or as Americans would say 140 miles), but there are so many amazing places to see along the way that you should really plan to spend an entire day making the drive between Banff and Jasper.

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Our first stop was a quick stop to see Herbert Lake

Then we made another quick stop to see Bow Lake.

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Bow Lake

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Bow Lake

The next stop needed more time and involved a fairly short hike to Peyto Lake. Definitely do this hike and spend some time admiring this breathtaking beauty.

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Peyto Lake

The hike to the main viewpoint is 1.7 miles out and back. It’s uphill the entire way there so be prepared for that. The viewpoint is ridiculously crowded, so based on a tip from some other hikers, we ventured up the trail to the left of the viewpoint. You don’t have to walk very far to find some spectacular views away from the crowds.

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(A side note for anyone who may be visiting this area for the rest of 2019, unfortunately you won’t be able to see Peyto Lake. The parking area and hiking trails are closed for the rest of the year, but will re-open next year).

After Peyto Lake we continued on up the Icefields Parkway and stopped for lunch at a picnic area at the Saskatchewan River Crossing.

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Saskatchewan River Crossing

Next we splurged on a really cool adventure. We went on the Columbia Icefields Adventure to tour and walk on the Athabasca Glacier and the Skywalk. This was definitely the highlight of our trip up the parkway.

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View of the glaciers from the Columbia Icefields Center — Athabasca Glacier is on the right

To get on the glacier, you ride in an Ice Explorer. We had an excellent tour guide named Bruce.

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Ice Explorer

More ice explorers on the glacier.

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Once you get on the glacier, you get to spend about 25-30 minutes walking around, taking pictures and even trying a drink of the ice cold glacier water. They had country flags from several countries around the world for pictures.

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Americans representing on the Athabasca Glacier

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Dad is originally from Nova Scotia, proudly displaying the Canadian flag

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Chris filled a cup with glacier water for us to try

After the glacier tour, the Ice Explorer returns you to a shuttle bus which takes you to the second part of the tour, the Skywalk.

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Glacier Skywalk

Views from the Skywalk:

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After the glacier tour we were all pretty worn out from all the excitement of the day, so we decided to leave some other explorations on the Icefields Parkway for the drive back to Banff. We drove to our hotel in Jasper National Park and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Jasper Brewing Company.

The next day it rained most of the day, so unfortunately we didn’t get to explore very much of Jasper. The only thing we did was the Valley of Five Lakes hike, and we did that in the rain. I know there is so much more to see in Jasper, so that just means we have to go back again someday.

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One of the 5 lakes at the Valley of Five Lakes

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Another one of the 5 lakes

The next day we headed back to Banff down the parkway again, visiting some other spots along the way. We stopped at the Athabasca Falls which was beautiful!

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Athabasca Falls

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Athabasca Falls

We did another challenging uphill hike to Parker Ridge, a 3.2 mile up and back hike. The climb was worth the beautiful views at the top! Are my parents amazing or what?! Both of them in their 70s and still joining us for hikes like this. ūüôā

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At the top of Parker Ridge

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Saskatchewan Glacier

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Beautiful views along the hike

One of the most exciting things we saw on the parkway was bears! We’re always on the lookout for bears, from a safe distance of course. But, it’s very rare that we see them. We saw several on the Icefields Parkway, and were able to get pictures of some of them on the side of the road.

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Adorable cubs following Mama Bear off the road!

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Mama Bear making sure her cubs made it safely off the road.

The drive along the Icefields Parkway was quite the adventure, I’m only sorry we didn’t have enough time to explore more of Jasper. So it just goes on my never-ending list of places to return to someday.

I have one more post about our time in the Canadian Rockies about Kootenay National Park which I’ll write about next.

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Banff National Park

Have you ever been to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies? If not, you may want to put it on your bucket list. It is literally the most beautiful place I have ever seen. So much so that I don’t know how we’ll ever top that trip!

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Lake Louise

Each summer my parents like to pick a place on our travel route to meet up with us, and this year they chose to fly to Calgary in Alberta to meet up with us to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks. I must say that was an excellent choice! This just may be the most amazing place we’ve ever been.

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We stayed at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court right in the super cute town of Banff.

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Our campsite was very nice and spacious

One day we were treated to some special guests at our site.

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Elk relaxing at the campsite

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The scenic town of Banff is surrounded by mountains

Besides being the most amazing park we have ever been to, it’s also the most crowded. I guess we’re not the only ones who wanted to see this incredible gem on God’s beautiful Creation.

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The parking lots at Banff fill up so early, and just barely clear out in the evenings. Chris worked most days, so we ventured out for hikes and exploring in the evenings. But even then, it was challenging to find parking. The night we went to Lake Louise (which is very likely the most popular area at Banff), we took some pictures at the lake and then ventured out for a hike to Lake Agnes. The hike is 4.7 miles out and back. It’s a challenging hike uphill then back down after you reach the lake. Uphill hikes always challenge me with getting out of breath, but I sometimes think going back down is more difficult. It’s harder on the knees, and also you have to try not to slip and fall going down if the trail has loose gravel.

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Lake Agnes

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Lake Agnes Tea House

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My parents admiring the beautiful views along the hike

Another evening we went to Moraine Lake. I think this lake was even more incredible than Lake Louise. The parking there is even more limited though, and there are park rangers blocking the entrance to the road. They only let people through when others have left the parking lot. Since we got there around 6:30 in the evening we didn’t have to wait too long, and it’s worth it for this view!

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Moraine Lake

If you visit Moraine Lake, be sure to hike up the 1/2 mile Rockpile trail. It’s made of rock steps and other than the climb, it’s not too difficult. You can see Moraine Lake from down at the shoreline, but the best views are from the top of the trail.

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From there we hiked to Consolation Lakes. This hike was 3.6 miles out and back. It was not difficult, but mostly through the woods on a dirt trail. I had read that there are frequent bear sightings on this trail, and sometimes it’s required to hike in groups and carry bear spray. We had that covered, but we didn’t see any bears. Once you get to Consolation Lakes there is a lot of rock scrambling to actually get to the lake shore. Of course, our kids love that part.

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Consolation Lakes

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Johnston Canyon was another fabulous place to visit. The hike to the Lower Falls is an easy 1.5 miles out and back. But, you can also hike further to see the Upper Falls making it 3.1 miles round trip. The trail is well maintained and paved. There is a 3rd option to hike to the Ink Pots making the total hike 7.3 miles, but we did not go that far.

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Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

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Johnston Canyon Upper Falls

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Hiking along Johnston Canyon

Lake Minnewanka is gorgeous! We had fun just walking along the shoreline, while Chris & Jesse played frisbee.

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Lake Minnewanka

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Chris & Jesse playing frisbee on Lake Minnewanka

More pictures of Lake Minnewanka:

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We also drove up Mount Norquay where you can see a beautiful view of the town of Banff down below.

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I love this adorable picture of Jake & Jesse at Mount Norquay. I can’t believe how quickly they are growing up, and it seems rare to get a good picture of them together like this anymore. Sometimes they like each other! ūüėČ

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Lastly we went to Vermillion Lakes, yet another beautiful place to see at Banff.

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Vermillion Lakes

We explored a few other areas as well, including a hike to the Hoodoos from the campground and another hike in the town of Canmore. The hiking opportunities in and around Banff are endless!

I cannot even describe how incredible it is to visit a place like Banff National Park, and my pictures really do not do it justice.

But there’s more! The trip up to Jasper National Park involves an incredibly scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway. Stay tuned for that next.

 

Categories: canada, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

While we were in Glacier we decided to make a day trip up to the Canadian side of the park called Waterton Lakes.  Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada and Glacier National Park in Montana, USA joined together to become the first International Peace Park in 1932.  The Peace Park commemorates the friendship between the two countries.  I love this because my dad is from Nova Scotia and I have many friends and relatives from Canada.

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Waterton Lakes was a 3 hour drive from where we were staying near West Glacier, so we left the RV at the park in Montana and stayed in a hotel up at Waterton for one night.  This was so exciting because although I have been to Canada, I had never been to Alberta.  And our kids thought it was really fun to go to another country for the day.  Now Jake really wants to spend a summer exploring Canada, and so do I.  What a beautiful country!

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Our first stop at Waterton Lakes was Red Rock Canyon.  This was a lot of fun for the kids to climb on the rocks and Jesse even found some rock slides.

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I think it’s pretty obvious why they called this Red Rock Canyon!

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Then we got settled at our hotel before venturing out to explore Waterton Village.  The village is in the middle of the national park and it is so cute!  There are several hotels to choose from.  We stayed at Waterton Lakes Lodge because it had an indoor pool and hot tub which we enjoyed very much.  You can walk to all the restaurants and shops in the area from any of the hotels.  There were lots of deer everywhere!

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Even Bambi!

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Waterton Lake is gorgeous!

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We ate dinner at a restaurant right next to the lake. ¬†While we waited for the food the kids enjoyed playing in their “yard” and on the chair swings.

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I think I look a little tired in this picture.  This family sure knows how to work hard and play hard!

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The next day we hiked to Bertha Falls.

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Some beautiful views of the lake and mountains from the hiking trail.

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Then we toured the Prince of Wales Hotel which was stunning!

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This is the lake view from the hotel.

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I am so glad we made this little side trip from Glacier, but our time there was too short.  Like I say about most places we go, that just means we have to go back again someday.  Exploring more of Alberta is now on our ever-growing bucket list.

Categories: Montana, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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