My daughter and I took a girls trip to Banff National Park a few weeks ago and the response to my pictures on Facebook was so overwhelming I decided to make a blog post about it! And someone asked for the itinerary so I thought I’d share here. Trips for the soul are as much a part of your health as the food we eat. Time away in nature with my daughter was soul renewing (except when she was complaining at the end of a 9 mile hike!) Just kidding, she was a trooper and I was not exactly honest about how long the hike was…..but I digress.
To be honest I borrowed parts of my trip from Melissa Hartwig the creator of Whole 30. Her trip recap can be found here.
And here’s mine!
Day 1: We flew from LGA to Calgary airport, with a layover in Toronto. We rented a car (you will need a car!) and drove to Canmore, which was about an hour away. Canmore is a small mountain town about 10 minutes away from Banff and one hour away from Lake Louise. I rented a condo at the Lodges of Canmore from Leavetown who I found through TripAdvisor. I loved this town. It had grocery shopping, great restaurants, great walking and running trails, It’s own lake with hiking trails and beautiful mountain views at every turn! We had dinner at Crazyweed right in Canmore. Sooooo good. You have to try their pickle marinated fried chicken!
Day 2: I recommend getting up early! We tried to be on the road everyday by 6:30 or 7 (which was 8:30 East Coast time) as the popular sites get very crowded if you go in August. The tour buses start arriving around 8:30. But even if early is not your thing you can still see the sites especially if you hike and get away from the main area. This day we drove 260 miles round trip on the Icefields Parkway. We made major stops at Herbert Lake, Bow Lake and the Num Ti Jah Lodge, Peyto Lake (my favorite lake of the trip! There is a hike here I wish we had done), Mistaya Canyon, and lastly the Columbia Icefields. There are many other stops and trails here is a good resource. We decided to take a tour to the actual glacier and we thought it was well worth it. There is a center right across from the glacier where you can buy tickets. Then we drove home (2 hours and 45 minutes) but with that scenery and stops it flies! Dinner in the room we were tired!
Day 3: We got up early and hit Morraine Lake first (This is the highest rated attraction on trip advisor!). This is about 30 minutes from Lake Louise and is worth going too. Climb the rocks on the side nearest to parking to get a great view. There are trails here but we decided to head to Lake Louise, the main event! At nine AM there was still parking and not overwhelming crowds. We set out on our hike to the six glaciers! This hike takes you a mile alongside Lake Louise to the trail head and is a breathtaking hike. At the top we stopped at the Teahouse for lunch then headed back. This is where I was a little dishonest with my daughter, I really wanted to see the other trail so we took the long way back detouring to the Lake Agnes trail (we actually did not make it to Lake Agnes, but this trail goes by Mirror Lake and gives you breathtaking views of Lake Louise from above) Do them both! You can do in the opposite order too, online will show you many options of connecting both trails. There is a quite a bit of uphill but I saw people with babies on their backs doing it! After getting to the bottom we relaxed in front of the Lake Louise Fairmount hotel a beautiful resort and then headed home. That evening we went into the village of Banff to eat dinner at Coyotes South Western Grill. This is another great mountain town with great shops and dining and is more popular to stay in, but I really liked Canmore better! BTW we were at Lake Morraine very early so they lake looked a deep blue instead of aqua blue because of the light! If you go later in the day it should look similar to Lake Louise.
Day 4: We did a shorter hike to Lake Grassi (take the trail that says more difficult) as you go by a waterfall. This hike is right in Canmore and has beautiful views of the reservoir. We ate at Communitea for lunch, a great restaurant right in Canmore (serves breakfast or lunch) with many vegan and gluten-free options. Highly recommended! Then we had a spa day right in Canmore at Rapunzel’s Day spa. It was a great little place one minute from our condo. We had to eat at Crazyweed again for dinner! Had the same fried chicken but short ribs the first night and salmon the second. Oh and get their Margarita, its to die for!
We also spent some time on the trails around Canmore, if you stay there be sure to explore!
Day 5: Ate at Communitea one last time (I had their pad thai with rice noodles and extra veggies, no tofu!) then we drove to the outlet mall by Calgary, I’m not even going to bother posting about it but I promised my daughter shopping if she hiked! And by the way if you are in Canada do hit Roots! They have the best sweatpants ever! We spent a few hours there then ate dinner and spent the night in Calgary for an early morning flight. Calgary is a nice city but its flat and once I could no longer see the Rockies in my rearview mirror I just got depressed. So Calgary I probably was just to sad to appreciate what you had to offer.
I have been many amazing places but if you love nature and mountains and lakes that look like they are painted I can not think of a more beautiful place to experience all that nature has to offer!
p.s. bring water and snacks! (beef jerky, bananas, protein bars all good options) and fill up on a gas before you head out, stations are scant! We did see some bear signs. Bears do not like to attack humans and only will if threatened. Everyone carries bear spray and is available in all the stores (to be honest I never bought it!) And if you hear people wearing bells, those are bear bells but I read they are not really helpful and wow are they irritating to hike by!
Let me know if you go! BTW wordpress does not let me make these pictures bigger, to really see them double click for a bigger image!
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