BANFF NATIONAL PARK:
Banff National Park was established as Canada’s first national park in 1885. Inside the park are two communities; the town of Banff and the hamlet of Lake Louise.
The soaring peaks of six mountain ranges surround the alpine town of Banff. Banff Avenue offered shopping and multiple restaurant choices. After a walk downtown, we went over to Bow River and Bow Falls, which are next to the majestic Banff Springs Hotel. We drove on Golf Course Loop Road and admired the Banff Springs Hotel golf course. It was lush green and the 18 holes meandered between Bow River, Sulphur Mountain, woods, and alpine meadows with wildflowers.
Moraine Lake lies in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Moraine Lake is a famous scene in the Canadian Rockies and is on the Canadian $20 bill.
Lake Louise is located 40 minutes west of Banff. The ‘Plain of Six Glaciers’ surrounds the town and makes Lake Louise a hikers paradise.
LAKE LOUISE GONDOLA:
We rode the gondola from Lake Louise ski lodge to an elevation of 6,850 feet. It was a spectacular view of jagged snowy peaks called the “Jewel of the Canadian Rockies”
In the heart of the Canadian Rockies is the connection road Icefield Parkway. Called the ‘Backbone of the Continent’ because the icefield straddles the Continental Divide. These glaciers straddle Banff National Park and Jasper National Park and are the largest south of the Arctic Circle.
At the Glacier Discovery Center we boarded an ice Explorer ‘snow coach’ bus that took us right up onto the Athabasca Glacier. Our bus driver’s name was Caitlin. It was fun being on Caitlin’s bus. She was an excellent driver and tour guide. We walked on ice up to 985 feet thick. The Athabasca Glacier was formed around 10,000 years ago when most of Western Canada was cloaked in ice. The icefield spans 125 square miles and reaches a depth of 1,180 feet.
Glacier Skywalk is a daring cliff-edge walkway that is a glass floored observation platform cantilevered 918 feet out over the Sunwapta Valley. It keeps raining off and on which made the glass floor a little slippery and we needed to walk with caution.
JASPER NATIONAL PARK:
Jasper National Park is located northwest of Banff National Park and connecting the two National Parks is the Columbia Icefields Parkway. The town of Jasper Alberta is the heart of Jasper National Park.
The Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park are impressive for the volume and force of water, even though the falls were not that tall. The Athabasca Falls has a walking bridge over the falls with different viewpoints of the powerful rapids.
Maligne Lake is located 30 miles from the town of Jasper. We took an early morning scenic drive to the lake. A ring of towering mountains surrounds it and is the largest glacially fed lake in the Canadian Rockies. We enjoyed the alpine fresh air when we hiked around part of the lake.
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