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.
The first stop was at Marble Canyon. This is a canyon cut into the rock. It was surprisingly deep when we first got to the end of it. And narrow! The trail went up one side of the canyon and then across a set of bridges over the canyon and ended up at a bridge across the waterfall at the top of the canyon. The rock structure was such that there was very tough rock where the waterfall was, and gradually it has been worn down. The rock under this top layer is softer so when the top is gone, the canyon rapidly appears. Whatever the geologic cause, it is beautiful to see.
After Marble Canyon, we went on down the road to the Paint Pots. These are places along the creek where the mud or whatever it is is colored red or green. You could really stain something using this mud. We didn't see all of the paint pots as we were not ready to get our shoes coated with all this mud without having other shoes to wear.
Since it was now a very long drive through a beautiful canyon / valley to the end of the park, we went back onto Banff and up to Yoho. This is an even smaller park with a few good features to see. Of course, the summer road construction on Route 1, the trans-Canada Highway, was full speed just into Yoho. We drove down to the town of Field as we were hungry and it was lunchtime. We stopped at Truffle Pigs Bistro in Kicking Horse Lodge and had a good meal. We stopped at the visitor center there, and learned that the road to Takakkaw Falls was closed until the weekend which was disappointing. The road to Emerald Lake was open, so we went there next.
Just after we turned onto the road to Emerald Lake, we stopped at Natural Bridge. This is where the water had worn a hole through the rock and the tough top layer was still intact, so the water flowed through the hole, creating a natural bridge. Then we went up the road to Emerald Lake, a beautiful lake nestled in among the mountains. Around the lake and many other places, we saw the wild rose which is the motto of Alberta.
In these parks, it seems that wherever there is a natural lake or feature, there is a lodge. This was the case at Emerald Lake. In the US National Parks, there don't seem to be as many lodges scattered through the parks. Of course, at this point, we care more about the campgrounds, and all the parks had lots of campgrounds in addition to the hotels and lodges.
While returning to Banff, we passed the spiral tunnels on the Canadian Pacific Railroad line. When they built the railroad through this mountain pass, they needed to do something to make the grade less steep, so they built two tunnels where the exit just about crosses the entrance to the tunnel but up above the entrance. The result is that the railroad picks up elevation without taking up more track. We were fortunate to arrive just as a train was approaching as it was coming uphill. We saw the engine enter the tunnel and then emerge from the other end of the tunnel and then loop back close to us, so we saw the beginning, middle, and toward the end of the train all in front of us. Then the train continued under the highway and through another spiral tunnel on its way up the mountain. Fun for us railroad fans to see.
If you look closely at the last photo in this set, you can see three parts of the same train as it goes through the lower spiral tunnel.
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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.