For our last day in Banff, we toured the town and surrounding area.
We first took the loop around Lake Minnewanka. It is a large reservoir just outside of Banff. If you look closely at the right side of the first photo, you will see several Red Chairs at the end of the dock. Red Chairs point out great places for scenery and a view and just a place to relax in the park. They are throughout Canadian National Parks and we saw a number of them in our travels.
After breakfast at our motel and checking out, we started for Maligne Lake. It is a bit of a distance from Jasper town, but the scenery was excellent. We arrived at Maligne Lake and walked a little on the shore then went into the dining room to warm up and get some coffee. There is a 1-1/2 hour cruise available that takes you up the lake but we realized that we didn't really have the time to take it without having a really late return to Banff, so we satisfied ourselves with the view from the dock.
Today, we started for Jasper National Park. We managed to get a reservation at the Best Western in Jasper (recommended) so we decided to take one day and drive through the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper, then tour a little of Jasper the next day and return to Banff.
We started off driving from Banff toward Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. We had two mountain passes to cross. As we approached the first, Bow Pass, the rain started changing into snow, and I wondered what this trip was going to be like. But as we crossed the pass, it didn't drop below 1 degree Centigrade, so it was still above freezing, and the weather improved as we crossed the pass. The next pass was Sunwapta Pass, the border between the parks, and the weather was fine all the way except for being a little cold, but not as cold as it was when we took the tram to the top of Lake Louise ski resort.
Today, we decided to visit some other smaller national parks adjacent to Banff National Park. There are two just west. We started to make a grand loop through Kootenay and then up the Columbia River valley to Yoho but we realized that this would be a very long day. We changed our plans and drove into Kootenay to see the sights just across the pass, then retrace our path back to Banff and up to Yoho.
On day two of our trip, we took the advice of the fine fellow at the Visitor Centre and went straight to Moraine Lake. We arrived at about 8:15 am to find that the parking lot was already full. After waiting to drive through the lot, I dropped Jennifer and Leslie at the entrance, then went looking for a parking space. Fortunately, just after that, an RV pulled out and provided parking space for another car and me, very close to the lake.
Moraine Lake is misnamed. It was not created by a glacial moraine, but by a rock fall off the mountain which created a natural dam. This lake is beautiful, perhaps as beautiful as Lake Louise. We walked partway around the shore but decided to leave as it was bitterly cold with a stiff wind. The temperature was about 9 degrees (Centigrade, of course). We wanted to get a cup of coffee to help warm ourselves but were told at the lodge that only overnight lodge guests could sit inside. Given how cold it was, we opted to move on - to Lake Louise.
We traveled to Banff National Park, and hope to see it and the surrounding Canadian National Parks along the Canadian Rockies. This was a fly-to trip and we stayed in a timeshare condo in the town of Banff with our neighbor, Leslie.
On our first day at Banff National Park, we drove up the Bow River Parkway. It parallels Route 1, which is a 4 lane freeway, but Bow River Parkway is a two lane road and therefore much more relaxed. Our first stop was at Johnson Canyon and waterfall. We walked up the trail and catwalks (not as scary as they sound, not scary at all) to the lower falls, and decided we were more interested in moving on than going to the upper falls. We stopped at the overlook for Castle Mountain, and were disappointed that it was rather foggy so we couldn't see the top of Castle Mountain.
Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house. And now I have gotten interested in ham radio so there goes any free time.