It has been a pretty long time since my last post. This time it was not just due to my usual sloth but because of so so many life changes that I could not update the blog properly. Excuses given, let’s retake this travel diary with… the definitive guide to the Canadian Rockies!
Our last days in Canada could be counted with a few hands but we couldn’t leave before visiting the Rocky Mountains. Our road trip in Vancouver Island and Squamish was following the schedule while going East but things were going to change. We wanted to visit a few places before arriving to the Rockies but, unfortunately, we found ourselves at the fire season in British Columbia and even Alberta. Many roads were closed, but even changing our itinerary we couldn’t get rid of the smoke so we did all the way to the Rockies!
Our first stop was the Yoho National Park where after stopping for a while in the so called Natural Bridge we went directly to the Emerald Lake. The first of the amazing lakes in this area that you definitely don’t want to miss.
We were still surrounded by fires so you can see that smoky atmosphere in the pictures. I was afraid they would be pretty bad but at the end they got an interesting effect 😉
This small town is the epicenter of more tours around the Rockies. It’s a nice place to rest for a few days or to stay while visiting the surrounding mountains. It’s pretty touristic but somehow manage to have a relaxing atmosphere. Its only downside is that it’s highly pricey and places are easy to get fully booked so, if you didn’t book on time or your budget is limited, you might want to stay a bit further (Canmore is a good alternative).
One of the city prides is the luxury Fairmont Banff Springs hotel which is included in the National Historic Sites of Canada. We had been sleeping in tents for the last couple of weeks so it looked even more fancy than usual. It’s possible to get inside, they got a small exhibition of old pictures at the reception’ second floor. The second pictures is from the Cave and Basin National Historic Site
As mentioned before, Banff it’s a pretty touristic town but it’s located in the middle of the Rockies so expect some wild life around you.
Ink Pots hike
Many people use Banff as a ‘base camp’ from where they can do some nice hikes. One of the most famous is the Ink Post hike which starts at the Johnston Canyon. The first part of the hike goes all the way up trough the canyon which it’s a nice walk but it gets easily crowded. Once you reach the last falls the road will turn left into a forest where most of the people won’t go so it will feel more like a proper hike. At the end you will reach a kind of valley which some nice peaks and the Ink Pots with its crystalline waters.
We spent a few nights in a camp site in Canmore from where we went to do another hike in Barrier Lake. This lake is almost at the entrance of the Rockies coming from the East. It’s another easy hike that gives us some nice views of the Barrier Lake and the Mount Baldy.
The Rocky Mountains are famous by its beautiful lakes and Lake Louise is probably the most popular one.You will reach at the eastern shore of the lake where The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is located , a luxury resort with unbeatable views.
Again, around the hotel is where you will find yourself surrounded by other tourist taking pictures of the lake. Probably the most crowded location in our whole trip. But don worry about it, as soon as you start hiking you will see less and less people. And believe me, if you make it until the lake you don’t wanna just stay there. We only had a few hours and still we were able to make a pretty nice couple of hikes around the lake. We started by doing the Lake Agnes hike on which you will soon get an elevated position from where you will get a pretty nice view of the hotel.
Starting to walk from the hotel, in an hour or so you should reach a couple of small lakes: The Mirror Lake and the Lake Agnes. The latest has even a small tea house just next to the waters.
We didn’t have much time to rest as our idea was to join a second hike so we continue our way kind of fast. We were starting to feel how the forest was becoming less and less leafy and some high mountains appeared in the background. Perfect spot to take a quick meal, recover some energy and continue our way… we wanted to touch some snow that day!
Finally we end our hike and instead taking the way back to the start point we join into The Plain of Six Glaciers hike. We got a perfect day and this trail has stunning views until you finally reach the glaciar! We did touch some snow at the end 🙂
I highly recommend to do this couple of hikes. The first one got pretty nice views of the lake, and can be done in a couple of hours if you turn back after the small lakes. The second might be longer but it’s totally worth it and got super nice views of the mountains. I can’t remember how much time it took us to do both but I’d say 6 hours or so. The way back from the glaciar is pretty easy and can be done pretty fast. One last view of the Lake Louise with the Fairmont Chateau at the end and we called it a day (a pretty dam* good one!).
Lakes you must see at the Rockies (Bow Lake, Peyto Lake & Moraine Lake)
The lakes around the Canadian Rockies are the main reason why most people come here in the first place. There are plenty of them and most of them are surprisingly easy to access. Most of them are just next to some road and some can be even seen from the main highway that cross the national parks. These are some of the lakes you wanna make sure to pay a visit!
Another lovely option for a hike day in the Rockies: The Cirque Peak. Again, super nice views all around even knowing we didn’t get to the very top to really appreciate the cirque of peaks
This was the end of our unforgettable Canadian road trip. In case any of the readers fall on this post while planning a trip in Canada, I let this map with the route we followed that might help to get ideas for your own route.
And this was the end of our Canadian life. Our original plan was to settle down in Vancouver but at the very last moment (same day we got a proper job offer) we decide to move back to Japan (fuc* logic!). On the way we would pay a visit to friends and family in Spain and then we would fly back to our beautiful Japan and see if we could settle down there… all-in Japan!
It was a pleasure, Canada.
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