May 23 – Banff, Alberta Canada

Heading west and what a thrill – watching the Rocky Mountains getting closer and closer.

Short drive from Calgary but we had to stop once just to soak in the view.

Getting close to Banff and I just can’t believe the scenery – this is TOO AWESOME! Excuse me if I include too many pictures.

The pine trees fill the air with their smell – oh how wonderful!

Arrived at Banff National Park Trailer Court Campground – I was worried when I made the reservations in a “trailer court” but it turns out this campground has 100’s of pull-thru sites that have you parked parallel with the road. Great campground – paved roads level gravel sites even full hook ups here.

Took the dogs for a hike around the campground and beyond and sure enough they discovered ground squirrels and their holes – let the hunt begin.DSC_0035

Brenda and I went downtown to the visitor’s center and to explore. Not like American NP – no movie but they do have a stamp but no book – they suggested a plain piece of paper. I’ll bring back my Canadian National Park encyclopedia book and have them stamp that.

Also this year Canada is celebrating 150 years and everyone gets into the NP FREE – yes FREE.

Banff NP was created in 1885 – again the government thought ahead and decided to protect some of the special natural resources for the upcoming generations – good for them. The resources here was the hot springs and the mountains.

Downtown Banff is interesting – similar to a Norwegian or European town. Lots of people walking around just like us. Lots of shops and restaurants.

Didn’t spend a lot of time exploring inside the stores (I wanted to ride my bike while the weather is close to 80).

Finished walking to one end of town and what was in front of us? – but the Banff Brew Company – why not. Even had a seat on the second story balcony and we got to watch all the people going by.

Did get back in time to ride (first in a long time – at least it seems that way) and did about 6 miles. Remember we are camping up a hill from town so it was a struggle to return. They have lots of trails of all experiences and well signed and protected – good for them.

While walking the dogs in the evening we came upon a herd of Elk feeding adjacent to the campground. From the droppings, I would have to assume that they walk all around the campground at different times of the day or night.

Wednesday had rain last night (at least we didn’t get the 4 inches of snow that was predicted a few days ago) but enough rain to get things wet.

Overcast at 9 AM and 45 degrees so I better go now and get the ride in. Did 10 miles and I hadn’t been riding where I had to wear 3 layers and long fingered gloves – still got cold and returned home sooner than later.

One of my favorite birds – the Black billed Magpie.DSC_0060

Glad I did because not too much later it started to snow and the temp fell to 30 degrees. We went downtown and did the Banff NP Museum Historic site.

It is the oldest museum in Canada and you could tell. They had all the animals of the area (stuffed or taxidermied) and they looked pretty old. It was fascinating see many of the animals up close, even the bugs.

Took a walk along the river and saw the Bow Falls. DSC_0055 (2)DSC_0050

This river is the same river we walked along the bank in Calgary – the water source is the melting glaciers in the Rockies and it was roaring.

Saw 2 deer feeding along the path. Every great city has a walkway along the river.

Walked around town for a few minutes and ducked into Wild Flour Café for soup. It is snowing hard and 32 degrees.DSC_0070

Thursday we have a broken toilet flusher. Research says best to have repair shop make repair so in a week we have an appointment in Hinson, Alberta to get the part replaced. You learn quickly what you can do and can’t and just be flexible in the timing. You know “Stuff will Happen!” You can flush it by wiggling a broken lever so we are not without sewer.

Off to the Cave and Basin Historic site – birthplace of the Canadian NPs,

this part of the NP involved the discovery of the cave and hot sulphur water. The architecture of the building dates back to when it was a bath house.

Then up to Upper Hot Springs, part way up the mountain. They had a pool that was fed from this spring and 30 or so people were sitting in the pool and it was 57 out. The pool was 39 degrees C – you figure it out.DSC_0075

Brenda did finish her first Xplorers book and was awarded a dog tag with the name of the park.

Then we visited the Vermilion Lakes, a magnificent wetland. What a setting with the mountains on the edge of the lake and protruding way into the sky.

There is so much more to explore at Banff – will have to return some day.

Learning French as we go as everything is written twice.DSC_0068

Almost dinner time and we need a new brewery. The town of Canmore is right outside the park and has a brewery. Cute little town and a good brewery.DSC_0094

Friday a little warmer and full sun – it seems that the sun here is hotter and the temp doesn’t get too extreme – and no humidity.

Headed out to Kootenay NP in British Columbia, a reasonable drive from Banff.

Would like to see as many NP as we can – since they are free. The scenery is tremendous – I can’t take enough pictures and hopefully I will never bore anyone with having to watch my slide show.

Kootenay was created to protect the indigenous peoples who discovered naturally forming ochre in small streams and used this paint on their bodies and clothes and rocks. Other natural resources in the park include glaciers, Burgess Shale fossils. Dolomite walls of Marble Canyon and rust covered cliffs above Radium Hot Springs.

In 2003 dramatic wildfires scorched the land – and now you can see the new growth making a comeback.

First stop was Marble Canyon – oh my!

Took a hike and saw the waterfall and the canyon. They have these red chairs located along the trails (all through Banff NP too) that you can sit and contemplate – oh my!


Proceeding on, we saw cars along the road and stopped – yes our first bear sighting – a grizzly – right there along the road. Stayed in the car – not ready to put my life in danger.

Made it to the Visitor’s center and got my stamp. Brenda worked at her Xplorers book and got her dog tag. The VC was in the town of Radium Hot Springs. They have hot springs there too and again we saw a pool fed by hot springs and people hanging out by the pool – for a fee.DSC_0074

Lots of hiking available in the park. We noticed a lot of people, not just this park but all around prepared to do serious hiking. We are not serious hikers but enjoy being out in nature.

Headed home and sure enough another bear – this time a black bear.

Brenda visited the museum again and got her book and dog tag. After dinner we went over to the Hoo-doo view point (yes there are hoo-doos besides Bryce Canyon in Utah). Enjoyed the evening sitting in the red chairs and soaking in the scenery.

The scenery was spectacular!

Saturday off to Lake Louise with no reservations for a campsite.

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