Even though it’s barely an hour-long flight away, Banff and Jasper have been on my travel list for years. I’ve lusted over the photos, unsuccessfully tried to plan trips on two separate occasions, but could never make it happen.
This year is the year of 30. So many of my friends (+ me) are turning 30 this year and it’s been an awesome excuse to plan trips to celebrate. This one was for Nandita and it was a chance to celebrate 30 and her end of residency. We did it up big.
After touching down in Calgary and hopping in our rental car, Lake Minnewanka was our first taste of Banff as we drove in. There’s a great trail all around the lake. We went as far as we could before you had to have bear spray on hand to keep going.
Tunnel Creek Campground
Our first night we slept in an Otentik – read: fancy name for yurt made up by Canadians. It was brand new at an awesome campsite with these mountain views:
Despite the swarms of tourists (not pictured), Lake Louise is so so worth the trip. The jaw dropping views of the mountains and oh so blue lake is really perfection. We hiked up to a teahouse and had delicious biscuits and tea and hiked away from the crowds to get some perspective of the blue lake below. And then we crossed the highway and took a chairlift up the winter ski mountain. Such a great way to see the area and oh so fun.
The Icefields Parkway is the highway from Banff to Jasper. In all my travels, I’ve never been on such a stunning road. Highway 20 is nothing compared to the views on this road. There are so many pulloffs to see lakes and take photos that there is no way to speed through the drive. Peyto Lake was our favorite stop — here:
The highlight of the trip was the Skyline Trail — a 26 mile trail in Jasper National Park. We started at the north end of the trail, leaving our car at the end and taking a 45-min shuttle up to the start. Our bus driver was a nature guide covering the shift and had grown up in the area. He knew we all had bears on the mind (it’s Grizzly country after all) and told us about his (safe!) 700+ encounters with bears. I’m not sure it made us feel any better other than thankful for our two cans of bear spray.
Almost 20 of the 26 miles are above the treeline, totally exposed but with seriously stunning views. Every hour was completely different. It wasn’t a particularly tough trail expect for the length. But it sure blew our minds.
The best part of all was the backcountry shovel pass lodge at mile 13. We were able to stay in minimalist cabins with beds and were served a delicious dinner and breakfast. Backcountry glamping at it’s finest. GO HERE. DO THIS TRAIL. Plan 6+ months in advance to get a spot. You won’t regret it!