Banff National Park
Alberta, Canada
August 24th  2017
Exploring Canada's National Parks

In Summer of 2017 some friends and I took a trip through several of Canada’s national parks. We found a cheap direct flight from Seattle to Calgary over a long weekend, and booked an Airbnb in Golden, British Columbia - a jumping off point for visiting the parks.

Boom Lake & Town of Banff

Our flight arrived late Thursday evening, so we spent a very quick night in Calgary before beginning the drive west towards Banff on Friday morning. Our first stop was about an hour and a half from Calgary in the town of Banff, a small, resort town in the center of Banff National Park. We collected a few maps, picked up a parks pass (which ended up being free in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday), and had lunch.

photo of group banff sign
photo of train tracks
photo of mountain through trees
photo of mimi on banff sign
photo of danny in front of banff sign
photo of mimi in front of banff sign

We took a quick hike just outside of town and immediately encountered a bear and her cubs walking along the riverbank opposite to the trail. We quietly took a few pictures, before walking carefully in the opposite direction.

photo of ryan taking picture of bear
photo of bear and cub
photo of bear sneaking

The Airbnb we’d booked was another hour and a half or so west of Banff in the neighboring province of British Columbia. On the way, we stopped to hike at Boom Lake.

photo of lake boom trailhead
photo of mountain through sunroof
photo of mountains lake boom
photo of under bridge
photo of mountain through sunroof
photo of mimi under bridge
photo of bees on flower
photo of mimi lake boom
photo of mimi and ryan eat an apple
photo of lake boom roof
photo of lake boom group return
photo of swamp lake boom
photo of mimi and ryan peace
Lake Louise

On our second full day in Banff we drove to Lake Louise - probably one of Banff’s more famous attractions. The lake is a beautiful turquoise green color and it’s surrounded by snow-capped mountains throughout the year. The only structure along the lake is a very luxurious Fairmont Hotel and its boathouse.

photo of lake louise binocular
photo of mimi lake louise
photo of canoes lake louise
photo of mimi arms strethced lake louise
photo of group lake louise
photo of dan paddling
photo of danny canoe lake louise

We started the day by renting canoes from the hotel and paddling to the other side of the lake. The rentals were really expensive, but the views from the lake were gorgeous and well worth it.

After the paddle, we hiked up to a teahouse in the mountains above the lake. The hike was relatively steep but it offered gorgeous views the whole way up. We had a late lunch at the top of sandwiches and iced tea.

photo of hotel lake louise
photo of sun in mountain lake louise
photo of mimi and ryan in canoe
photo of grass on shore lake louise
photo of miles sweaty
photo of teahouse view
photo of teahouse ryan and mimi
photo of teahouse menu
photo of lake through trees
Larch Valley & Sentinel Pass

On our last full day in Banff, we took a longer more adventurous hike up the Larch Valley / Sentinel Pass. There are bears all over Banff, but this particular hike passes directly through Grizzly territory and Parks Canada recommended that hikers both stay in groups of four or more and carry bear spray. Lucky for us, we encountered no Grizzlies.

photo of golden bc
photo of golden bc roads
photo of bear warning sign
photo of mimi bears
photo of flowers walking bridge
photo of miles hiking
photo of mountain pass view
photo of mimi sucking
photo of the gang goes hiking

The hike up the pass was the most beautiful of the trip. The first half of the crisscrossed through alpine switchbacks before opening up to the base of a valley. Beyond the valley, another set of switchbacks through much rockier terrain led to a view of the valley below and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

photo of valley below
photo of mimi and ryan
photo of dan and mimi
photo of danny and emily
photo of dan snow lake
photo of danny and emily snow lake
photo of miles snow lake
photo of miles and mimi walking down

On the way down we stopped for an ice-cold dip in one of the glacier-fed lakes in the valley. At the end of the hike, we took some pictures around Lake Moraine.

photo of lake through trees 2
photo of group on log
photo of mimi annoyed with dan for taking pictures
photo of rando on canoes
photo of emily and mimi
photo of ryan and mimi in lake
photo of roomies