Part II follows up on what we did in Banff and Jasper on our thirtieth birthday trip. You can read Part I here.
What to Do:
The possibilities are endless. Many gondolas, hot springs, lakes, mountains, and hikes to go on. These are what we chose to do. I am going to break what to do do up into different categories.
Johnston Canyon Water Fall There are many beautiful waterfalls along this hike. They advertise two but you get some not as large but equally impressive bonus waterfalls. You can even walk behind one of the bonus waterfalls.
Bow Glacier Falls My favorite. You can see if from the road behind Bow Glacier Lake so its deceptively far away. The hike is not terribly long or hard but it seems like it takes forever since you can see if from the highway. There is the optical illusion of it seeming closer than it is. Must do.
Athabasca Falls a short jaunt from the parking lot. The falls are beautiful. You can also walk the old river canyon to the river below the falls.
Sunwapta Falls also a short walk from the parking lot. It’s less crowded but just as impressive. I love the little island in the river above the falls.
Moraine Lake my favorite one. Although picking a favorite lake is like picking a favorite child, how can you chose? We went later in the day, thus less people. We canoed on the lake and climbed the Rock Pile trail. Must do.
Lake Agnes a hike from Lake Louise. The Tea House here is what makes this lake special. There is something about a long, not particularly easy hike that has tea and treats awaiting you. We got here late morning to mid-day. We had to wait a bit to sit all of us together. We also waited for an outside table so we could see the views. There are “restrooms” up the hill behind the tea house. The employees hike up, work and spend a few nights then rotate out.
Lake Louise is a beautiful lake. Chances are if you have seen a picture of those famous turquoise blue waters it was of this lake. My least favorite. We got here early one morning to start the hike to Lake Agnes. The crowds were light but the sun was not hitting the lake just right yet. Once we spent the day hiking up to Lake Agnes then the Big Beehive and back down. By the time we were done Lake Louise was crawling with people. The massive resort at the lake is also a huge negative for me. There are hotels at other lakes but they definitely blend in with the scenery better.
Bow Lake an easy stroll from the parking lot located off the Icefields Parkway. We just stopped here on our drive from Banff to Jasper. We dipped our toes in the water, freezing but fun. We later stopped on the way back to Banff to hike to the Falls.
Peyto Lake also an easy walk from the parking lot. Located not too far off the highway. Stunning views. It was later in the day when we were here so the crowds were light but I imagine they are on the lighter side compared to Lousie all the time.
Medicine Lake is located to the south-east of Jasper. You pass it on the way to Maligne Lake. This lake fascinates me. The water seems to disappear at times. In 1970 biodegradable dye was used to trace the water. It is one of the most expansive underground water networks in the world.
Maligne Lake is home to Spirit Island. Here we took a boat ride to Spirit Island and walked around the lake. This was another favorite. I love the significance surrounding Spirit Island.
Horseshoe Lake is located close to the Athabasca Waterfall. A local favorite for jumping off the rocks into the lake. The water is freezing of course.
Mistaya Canyon is located along the Icefields Parkway. This canyon is not well known so it’s peaceful and uncrowded. Well worth the stop and easy hike down to the canyon.
Maligne Canyon located close to Maligne and Medicine Lakes. We almost did not go to this one but I am glad we did. The canyon is a short walk from the parking area but you can make your hike be as long or as short as you would like. The sun was setting soon so we did not stay long. There is a tea house here too. The trails weave in between both sides of the canyon. There are also fossils that you can see on the walking trail indicate the area was once covered by a sea.
Banff Upper Hot Springs we spent our first evening here. Crowded but definitely not unbearable. We went around dinner time which I am assuming helped with the crowds. They have towels, lockers and even swimsuits for rent.
Radium Hot Springs we did not visit this one but if we had more time we would have.
Miette Hot Springs again if we had more time would have loved to visit this one.
Jasper Sky Tram is located on Whistler’s Peak. We heard this was the best one in the area so we did this one. We then hiked to the peak from the Upper Station. Sweeping views of the Rockies and the town of Jasper.
Banff Gondola is located a short drive from downtown Banff. The gondola travels up Sulphur Mountain.
Lake Louise Gondola is located close to the town of Lake Louise rather than the lake.