We were in Banff National Park and we were here to see mountains. And glacial lakes. And wildlife if they obliged. There are beautiful drives to get you out there in amongst it and this post covers two made during our short stay in the area. Whether we would in fact see the mountains was entirely up to the weather gods whose moods were very changeable.
Bow Valley Parkway
The day we left Banff for Lake Louise we gave the Trans-Canada a miss for the original road, the Bow Valley Parkway. It was a fairly dismal day but waving my fist at the sky wasn’t going to change anything, and hey I guess the rain wasn’t heavy.
Our first stop was here at Mule Shoe to find a pairing of the Parks Canada chairs, also covered in my separate ‘red chairs’ post,
Took a few rubbishy shots from the car at a swathe of land along the Sawback Range which was given a prescribed burn in 1993.
An environmentally-friendly quirk, the road here curves around a tree. It came to be about 70 years ago when the road was widened and the guy in charge of the park decided the tree should be left where it was! The original tree is gone but its legacy lives on.
It was also nice to see splashes of autumn.
We trotted off to see Silverton Falls – and maybe also some wildlife.
No wolves so far.
It was pretty easy going, a little mountain-goatness required.
A trick of perspective that’s either making the falls miniature or me about 40m tall.
At the base of Castle Mountain (which like all the other mountains today we couldn’t see) an internment camp was built during WW1 for immigrant prisoners. They were used as a workforce and constructed many roads and bridges in Banff National Park.
The actual camp is apparently west of the roadside memorial but it seemed that the trail wouldn’t take us there. We did however find this colourful perhaps less-official memorial.
Also of note historically are the mining and milling towns that sprang up after the railway’s construction, until resource extraction in the park was stopped. You’d never know it today as no traces remain, at least from what I could tell.
There are far more majestic photos of this location out there but a) aforementioned weather; b) no train obliged our timetable. This is Morant’s Curve, which some say is the most famous location along the Canadian Pacific Railway.
There are other stunning spots along the parkway which we had to flag, so I feel I have unfinished business with this road.
From our base in Field we reserved a day for driving some of the iconic Icefields Parkway and having a look at the Lake Louise ski resort. In ’04 I did a bus tour along all of the parkway up to Jasper. Today we’d barely be making a dent in that full journey – made possible because of the 1930s Depression Era project which first created it – but the skies were largely cooperative so what we did see was superb.
Crowfoot Glacier – shrinking away but for the time being it’s still visible from the road.
Crowfoot Glacier feeds into Bow Lake. I wondered what the red-roofed building was – we’d find out a bit later.
Luckily I wasn’t driving – too many distractions.
The walk to the Peyto Lake lookout was in snow, much like it was in ’04.
It was as stunning as I remembered it.
We faffed around here for quite a while before heading back toward Lake Louise. Were there loads of other people? Yes.
We turned off at Bow Lake where we’d seen the red-roof building which proved to be a hotel lodge. Its construction started in 1937 after the road had made it that far and is still fairly original. However we bypassed it to head over to the lake shore.
In another direction you get a direct if distant view of the Bow Glacier.
And that was the end of our short foray up the Icefields Parkway.
We weren’t quite done with the Rockies though, I’ve saved the best til last.