Since I was unable to go home for Thanksgiving, Andy and I decided to either go to Hawaii or Banff. With Hawaii flights being extremely expensive, we decided to drive 10 hours into Canada to escape the crazy holiday weekend. With only two days off of work until Christmas, I wanted to make the most of my days off since I have already used my vacation for the year.
The drive started Wednesday night after work fighting through other travelers until we arrived at the border. Since it was dark, we missed much of the scenery. Instead of driving through the night, we stayed at Alpine Motel in Kamloops to break up the drive. We searched for the best price off the exit we took wishing we had our cell phones to compare nightly rates of all the hotels in the area. After asking five hotels their nightly rate, we settled into bed for the night.
We finished our drive to Banff Thursday morning with great mountainous views. Fortunately, the road conditions were decent for the remaining part of our drive.
After arriving at Lake Louise Village, we stopped at the Visitor Center to ask what there was to do in the area. We asked for ski touring and snowshoeing trails, but the conditions were best for cross country skiing. The ranger, Joel, recommended ice skating on Bow Lake since the conditions were the best he has seen. We ended up snowshoeing to Saddleback Mountain and decided to turn around early to get some ice skating in at Bow Lake, where we ran into Joel again!
After being outside all day, we checked into the Caribou Lodge, where we were staying for three nights. Since Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada earlier than the States, Christmas decorations were throughout the hotel and Banff. In search of a good microbrew, we headed to Banff Ave Brewing Company. At dinner, we tried poutine for the first time, which is a great appetizer.
Itching to hit the slopes, we headed to Sunshine Village since they had the best snow base in the area. We rode the gondola up the mountain to get to the resort. Since it was a Friday, we were able to get almost 20 runs in with short lift lines. After skiing, we found Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub after searching for souvenirs. Tommy’s Pub had a great local atmosphere and served a maple cream ale by Granville Island Brewing. The Buffalo versus Toronto hockey game entertained us through dinner.
We decided to be tourists Saturday and headed to the Visitor Center in town for suggestions. Then we headed to the 2013 Alpine Skiing World Cup at Lake Louise. I took some pictures with my DSLR before heading to Johnston Canyon. We hiked three miles round trip to see the Lower and Upper falls. The Cave and Basin National Historic Site was closed when we got back into Banff, but we did see elk and a coyote near the center, which was the first wildlife we saw.
We walked around town and found dinner at Bumpers before heading back to our last night in the hotel. There was a winter festival with a band playing with a TV screen replaying the Apline Skiing competition. People stood around fires and cooked marshmallows on sticks for a sweet snack as the band played.
Our drive back was beautiful and snowy until reaching Kamloops. We passed trains and accidents during our drive and even were almost ran into! Fortunately, we survived the long drive home to return to work on Monday.
I just loved Banff and want to return again soon. With so many activities to do and attractions to see, we definitely only scraped the surface. Hoping next time we will be able to explore more and drive further north to Jasper National Park. Until then, I will have to continue to use these pictures to remind me of the beautiful Canadian Rockies.
Have you even been to Canada? What is your favorite part?
More in this series:
- Must See Banff Winter Attractions
- Johnston Canyon – Banff National Park
- Lake Louise Alpine Skiing World Cup
- A Canadian Experience in Banff
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