My Itinerary of Alberta, Canada
There were 7 in our group as we arrived in Calgary. We were all excited to begin our visit of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. We rented a van to accommodate all of us and our luggage. Each person was restricted to one bag each or make a choice of you or the bags in the van. We checked into our hotel near the airport, Hotel Clique Calgary Airport, Calgary. The hotel was conveniently close to the airport, clean, and comfortable. We checked in, freshened up all we all piled back into the van for a little sightseeing. First stop was the the Calgary Tower at 3,428 feet above sea level.
Those of us without a fear of heights went to the highest 360 degrees observation deck in the world . The others stayed on the ground checking out what is a gateway to art, culture, entertainment, and nightlife. We picked out a restaurant for dinner. As we checked in we overheard a tourist family with a young teenage boy asking for a seat. We were surprised to learn that in Calgary no one under drinking age can enter or dine in a restaurant that contains a bar. That pretty much left out all the restaurants in that area for the family to dine at.
Next, we were off to glacial Moraine Lake—nestled within the Valley of the Ten Peaks, this deep blue lagoon is framed by 10 towering mountains and is one of the most photographed sites in Canada. I could not believe the sight in front of me. I was sure that nothing can top what I had just seen at Lake Louise. But here I was as if I had been struck by lightening just gasping at the beauty. The pictures don’t do it justice.
The driver educated us about the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint in Yoho National Park, on how the tunnels were carved through the mountainsides in the late 1800s. We weren’t lucky enough to see a train actually going through it. We were on the lookout for grizzly and black bears. We were told they are a common siting. But no such luck today. We did spot a Bald Eagle perched at the top of a tree. Our next stop was Emerald Lake. Another awe-inspiring natural piece of scenery of the Canadian Rockies. We had time to walk around before all getting together for dinner at the lodge above the lake.
DAY 3: We took the Banff Gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Unfortunately, a forest fire was running wild outside of Banff but the winds blew the smoke into the valley. I hoped we would be above the smoke but we were right in the thick of it. Views were limited. While on top, a few of us explored the boardwalk leading to Sanson’s Peak, a national historic site and the rest of us with asthma issues headed back down to the town of Banff but not before a visit to the gift shop. The rest of the day was free to wonder the quaint town full of shops and restaurants. A few of us took a leisurely soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs. Another went horse back riding. Don’t forget to stop and have a scoop of Canada’s famous ice cream. Be prepared to stand in a line which flows out the door.
We took a little side trip up route 1A towards Jasper and found a great ice cream place on the side of Johnston Canyon. We followed to trail to the upper falls and then treated ourselves. At the end of the day, we walked down to Bow Falls. Once again, it was a great choice. At the end of the parking lot, we spotted a rafting cottage. We went down to see if they were making any more runs and they were nice enough to hold the last boat for us. The views were beautiful, the ride was relaxing and I could see a look of contentment on everyone’s face.
Back in the van on our way to our next stop, Peyto Lake, Banff. It\’s an easy walk through woods filled with amazing evergreens and flowers to reach the observation deck which gives you a bird\’s eye view of the lake. It is the most breathtaking alpine bodies of water showing off its bright turquoise hue from the glacial particles suspended in the water.
There were so many stops because of picture opportunities, especially of the glaciers. Our next stop was Mistaya Canyon. Peyto Lake flows through this canyon carving out the rock to hidden depths. If you look closely at the rocks you’re walking on, you may see a couple of fossils too.
The next attraction to stop at was right on the side of the road was Tangle Falls, Banff. It was quite busy and then you have your rude people who climb the falls to pose right in the middle landing (a family of 8-10). The guy in front of me looked like the dad taking their pictures as I waited patiently to get a photo without people that I don’t know posing. I waited and waited and the photos continued as they switched positions, poses, paired up differently, etc. Yes, I lost my patience. In the end, I got my photos. 😛 We had two bear stops as well. One was a black bear on the side of the road and the other was a brown bear.
Athabasca Falls was our next and last stop before Jasper. Everyone was starting to get tired of shuffling in and out of the van. Although cranky climbing out of the van, very satisfied and thankful that we made the stop as we piled back in. A powerful, picturesque waterfall, Athabasca Falls is not known for its height, as it is known for the force of the milky blue waters falling into the gorge. The falls can be viewed and photographed from different vie platforms and trails around the falls. During dinner the bartender informed us of a Grizzly that had been spotted with its two cubs feeding on an elk corpse. We followed his directions and amazingly enough he wasn’t trying to make fools of these tourists. There she was! She stood guard as the cubs ate. She hurried them of because she was completely aware of humans nearby.
Day 5: We boarded the charter bus with Icefields Parkway Discovery with Glacier Skywalk. We drove back along Alberta’s famous Columbia Icefields Parkway. We boarded a huge all-terrain Ice Explorer and took a ride to and on the Athabasca glacier. You don’t get a sense of the magnitude of the glacier until you\’re standing right on it. It was beautiful. Keep your eyes open for the mountain goats that like to lick the salt from the ice. We enjoyed a nice buffet at the Icefield Visitor Center which was included in the tour. Next stop was admission to the Glacier Skywalk attraction. As much as I don’t like heights, walking on the skywalk wasn’t too bad. The plexiglass that makes up the floor is real scratched up so the view down isn’t clear which made the walk easier for me. Of course, you always have the fool who decides to start jumping on it making the whole thing bounce. I invisioned the entire skywalk bouncing right out of the cliff and continue to bounce all the way down the rocky mountain. It was time for me to exit the skywalk or risk pushing him over.
DAY 6: The group chose between two tours today. The ‘Ride The Steel Rails’ tour and ‘Mountain, Lakes, and Waterfalls Day-Trip. Unfortunately the pair the went on the train tour were very dissatisfied with their tour. They said it was poorly managed and the views were minimal. Those of us who took the other tour were very happy we did. Our first stop was Medicine Lake. Wow! Just WOW! It was like a mirror reflecting the surrounding mountains and the clouds above it. It was truly a meditating vision. We learned about its mysterious “disappearance” every summer. It is caused by the water’s retreat into an extensive network of underground karsts, one of the largest in the world. We were also lucky enough to spot a baby bald eagle in its nest. Our next stop was Maligne Lake. Another beauty. We took a boat ride on Maligne Lake to Spirit Island which has an easy 2 mile walk around the island.
DAY 7: We drove back to Calgary for the night with enough time to check out Canada Olympic Park. One of our team went and rode on the cool Bobsled Ride that goes 50 mph. DAY 8: Flight Back Home.
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