Waterton Lakes Nat’l Park – Starry Skies, the Milky Way & Wildflowers

June 2016 – Waterton Lakes National Park enchanted us. After all the grand and imposing majesty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains that we had seen in our RV trip on the other side of this mountain range at Banff and Jasper National Parks, there was an intimacy, charm and quiet elegance to Waterton Lakes that was very refreshing.

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park… Stunning!

The Prince of Wales Hotel really sets the stage for this special feeling at Waterton Lakes. We snuck down to the water’s edge one evening to get some photos of it reflecting its inviting warmth onto the lake.

Prince of Wales Hotel at night Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

The Prince of Wales Hotel has an inviting glow at night.

How rare it is to find this unique combination of natural beauty juxtaposed with man-made beauty in a National Park.

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes National Park

There was something about that hotel glowing across the water that just looked so appealing. It must be quite a place to stay!

Prince of Wales Hotel at night Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

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One thing we discovered quickly is that the night skies in Waterton Lakes National Park are extremely dark and absolutely jam packed with stars. The park is 35 miles away from the nearest “big” town, and by “big” I mean 3,700 people. So there aren’t any city lights to block out the view of the stars.

We crept out in the wee hours of the morning one night and got a quick pic of the buggy hanging out under the Milky Way. Wow!!

RV Roads Less Traveled Milky Way Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Our buggy loves camping under the Milky Way!

This gave me an idea to set up a time-lapse video showing the Milky Way moving across the sky. Watching the result after I woke up in the morning was a total thrill!

So I did it again the next night and again the next. I combined all three nights into one 36 second video (below) which is very cool.

The first two sequences in the video show the movement of the stars between an hour after sunset and an hour before sunrise, revealing the entire night passage of the Milky Way on two different nights.

Since it was mid-June, we were nearly at the Summer Solistice, and because we were above the 49th parallel, the nights were darn short! So, the time-lapse videos from each night run from 11:45 pm until 4:15 am. There’s not much nighttime in those parts at that time of year!!

The third overnight sequence in this time-lapse video captures a bit of the Northern Lights playing in the sky for a short while just after midnight. Then, suddenly, the sky clears and you can see the Milky Way’s march across the sky that goes on all the time as our planet does its pirouettes across the heavens.

Shortly after we had all this fun capturing the Milky Way in still images and time-lapse videos, we read an article that said that 80% of the earth’s inhabitants have never had the good fortune to see the Milky Way, because our night skies all around the world are so full of artificial light.

The article went on to say that during a city-wide power outage in 1994 in Los Angeles which was caused by the huge Northridge earthquake, the police got calls from frightened residents claiming there was a big scary silvery cloud hovering overhead!

As the time went by during our stay in gorgeous Waterton Lakes National Park, we found our days were action packed.

Besides taking the wonderful Waterton Shoreline Cruise on the historic ship MV International along the length of the park from Waterton down to Glacier National Park in Montana and back (blog post here), we also got out on our bikes on the fabulous paved trail that wanders along the water and out of town a ways.

Bike Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

We loved the paved bike paths (and walking/running trails) around Waterton Lakes.

What a fantastic trail this is. The mountains soared into the sky all around us.

Bicycle Path Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

Mark rode off ahead of me into the pages of a cycling brochure!

It is a fun, rolling ride that has a few tight turns. Reminders on the pavement — in French as well as English — kept us from going too fast!!

Sign on pavement at Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

It was fun seeing official signs in French as well as English, even on the pavement.

We ran on this trail and walked on it too. We never got tired of the views!

Bicycle path Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

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There’s great cycling on the roads as well, and we saw some cycling groups going by. This is a fairly remote place, so the traffic on the roads was pretty light, making for some great road riding.

Cyclists Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

The roads around Waterton Lakes National Park are great for cycling too.

But Waterton Lakes can be enjoyed by other means besides a shoreline cruise on a boat or a bike ride. We saw a group of horseback riders out enjoying the views too!

Horseback riders Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

A group on horseback took in the views across Upper Waterton Lake.

The Red Rock Parkway is one of the main roads in Waterton Lakes, but it was closed for most of our time there. It did open on the weekends, though, and we had a chance to drive this wonderful scenic drive one Sunday.

Akamina Parkway Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

The Red Rock Parkway took us into more distant parts of the park.

It’s a very pretty drive, and at the end is lovely Red Rock Canyon. It is a neat surprise to see red rocks amid all this green and blue scenery!

Red Rock Canyon Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

It was such a great surprise to find red rocks in this
mountain-and-lakes National Park.

There was a thin stream of water flowing down the rocks, and we caught it in silky slow motion.

Red Rock Canyon Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

Red Rock Canyon was a pretty place to explore.

What we really wanted to see, though, was wildflowers, and these were scattered along the meadows on either side of Red Rock Parkway. We didn’t see huge fields of them, but instead we found tiny individual flowers of all different kinds.

Yellow wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

We found a pretty little wildflower looking up at the sun.

Pink round wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

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Wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

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Some of these were just the size of the end of my finger, and they were really delicate too.

Pink Wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

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Mark discovered a little bed of lady slipper flowers. I’m used to these guys being fairly big (and pink!), but the tiny white ones he found were the size of a marble, if that. I loved the twisted pairs of ribboned leaves on each one. They were like the satin ribbons on ballet slippers… for Thumbelina or Tinkerbell!

Ladyslipper wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

This tiny lady slipper is so small only Thumbelina’s foot could fit!

Ladyslipper wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Ladyslippers… and ribbon leaves to tie them with.

We found Bear Grass and cheerful yellow daisies and more.

Bear grass Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Bear grass was blooming everywhere.

Yellow wildflowers Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Some yellow daisies warm their petals in the sun.

Pink Wildflower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

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Dandelion flower Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

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We were both in our element for a few hours sitting amid the flowers in the meadows. I know there are great hikes out on the Red Rock Parkway, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from this little dollhouse world of flowers.

Sitting in the wildflowers Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

We didn’t get much hiking or exercise in, but communing with the wildflowers sure was fun.

When we returned to town we were greeted by a pair of friendly deer.

Deer at campsite Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

The fearless and ever so curious deer at Waterton Lakes were a highlight for us!

And a chipmunk showed us just how tall he could stand when there was a prize to be had.

Chipmunk reaching for food

This little chipmunk did tricks for us.

Waterton Lakes National Park is a really special destination, and it’s ideal for an RV trip. There’s a big campground with a variety of amenities in town and it’s just a stone’s throw over the border from the east side of Glacier National Park in Montana!

Class C Motorhome Waterton Lakes National Parks Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park is a wonderful destination for an RV trip!!

If you are planning an RV road trip to Waterton Lakes, there are more tips and links below.

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Waterton Shoreline Cruise – A Classy Tour of Waterton-Glacier NP

June 2016 – During our stay in Waterton Lakes National Park, we kept seeing an absolutely gorgeous tour boat parked at the main dock in town, just below the Prince of Wales Hotel. It turned out that this boat is the Waterton Shoreline Cruise and takes people on a two hour tour of Upper Waterton Lake, the main lake in the park.

All aboard Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

The Waterton Shoreline Cruise is a really fun way to see Waterton-Glacier National Park.

We were intrigued. It would be such a delight to see Waterton-Glaicer National Park from the water!

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

The MV International sails past the Prince of Wales Hotel

We read up a little on this cool cruise and found out that the boat, the MV International, cruises down the lake and crosses the international border between Canada and the US several times a day in the summertime.

It leaves from the village of Waterton in Waterton Lakes National Park and sails to the little landing dock at tiny Goat Haunt in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

MV International Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park

The MV International cruises Waterton Lake every day.

So, we got in line one day and boarded along with a big crowd of eager tourists. Little did we know that this was the maiden voyage for the season. How cool is that!

Taking the cruise midweek in early June, there was no concern about needing to sign up in advance. But on the weekends and on most days later in the season it’s best to get tickets a little ahead of time.

Boarding Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

“All Aboard!”

It was a beautiful sunny day, and we took a seat on the wooden benches on the upper deck along with everyone else.

Our host, Kevin, took the microphone and began pointing out the landmarks on the shore and telling us the history of this unique National Park that holds hands across the US/Canadian border with its twin sister, Glacier National Park in Montana.

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Our host Kevin told us about the history of Waterton-Glacier National Park

We headed out past the beautiful mountains on the far shore that had grown so familiar during our stay in the tiny village of Waterton.

Mountains Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

We cruised past stunning scenery.

And then the new mountains appeared before us as we made our way down the exquisite corridor of Upper Waterton Lake, heading towards Goat Haunt in Glacier National Park, on the south shore.

Kevin explained to us about how a 1909 treaty between the US and Canada joined the Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park together and created Waterton-Glacier National Park.

We learned that glaciers are huge masses of ice that are in perpetual motion, slowly moving across the landscape and grinding up the rocks beneath them.

Waterton Lakes National Park doesn’t have any glaciers any more but Montana’s Glacier National Park still has 25 of them. They are melting fast, however, and scientists predict that there will be no glaciers left in these parts by the year 2030, a mere 14 years from now.

However, there are loads of glaciers in the Canadian Rockies, and a wonderful place to play on one is at the Columbia Icefields on the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park.

Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

On our way! We headed south on Upper Waterton Lake towards Glacier National Park in Montana!

We were free to move around and explore the boat, and I got a kick out of peering into the pilothouse where our captain, Phil, and his deckhand, Jack, were manning the ship.

Pilothouse Underway Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

I snuck a peek inside the pilothouse.

During the course of our ride, clouds began to form and the air cooled down quite a bit. I went down below to warm up for a few minutes, and I found a little boy and girl peering out a window and pointing.

Kids on Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Down below two kids were pressed to the windows.

The boy was excitedly explaining something to the girl. I listened to him and then caught snippets of our host Kevin talking on the loudspeaker and realized that a black bear had been spotted on a hillside. Captain Phil had slowed the boat so we could all catch a glimpse of the bear in the distance.

I didn’t see the bear, but the kids were awfully cute!!

Window view Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

The big brother pointed out the bear to his little sister.

Shortly after that, our captain slowed the boat again as we crossed the international border between Canada and the United States. It was very cool to look up in the dense woods and see a thin line of cleared trees that defined the border and to see the engraved stone monuments that mark the border by the shore.

This is a true international border, and sure enough, we saw US Border Patrol zip by on their speedboat just as we crossed into the US side of the lake.

US Canadian Border Waterton Lakes National Park

We slowed down as we passed the international border.

We didn’t need passports to do the two hour cruise, but a few people on board were planning to do a hike at our turnaround point in Montana and then catch a later boat back, or even hike the seven miles back to Waterton. So, they had brought their passports and had to clear US Customs and Immigration (a casual affair on a folding table at Goat Haunt) before hitting the trail.

Once we were across the border and had all gotten photos of this unique spot, Captain Phil sped up again. In no time we were at our turnaround point, Goat Haunt in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Goathaunt dock Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

We arrive in Goat Haunt, Glacier National Park, Montana!

But we couldn’t get off right away because our captain spotted two black bears on the trail between the boat dock and the ranger station as we tied up! We all stayed on the boat for a few minutes while the bears quietly made their way down the path and off into the woods.

This made for lots of excited chatter between all of us passengers as we got off the boat to stretch our legs and wander along the edge of the water. What a neat sighting!

Goat Haunt dock Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Goat Haunt is wonderfully remote.

The hikers all headed to a folding table outside the ranger station to go through the clearance process with Customs and Immigration before beginning their hikes. The rest of us took in the view back up the lake.

Goat Haunt view of Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada

Nice!!

The woods were thick and very quiet. Unlike the other end of the lake where the adorable village of Waterton is filled with tourist boutiques, pretty eateries, a campground, hotels and a treelined shore, this end of the lake was virgin forest.

Wildflowers were blooming and we got a few photos of some pretty ones.

Wildflowers blooming Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

Pretty wildflowers were in bloom along the water’s edge.

Our stop was just 30 minutes long, so we wandered back towards the boat. Captain Phil was in the pilothouse ready to go, and he blew the ship’s horn to let everyone on shore know that we’d be leaving in a few minutes.

Pilothouse Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

Captain Phil in the wheelhouse.

Gradually everyone came up the gang plank and took a seat on the deck or down below.

Goat Haunt Boarding Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

When the boat’s whistle blew, we all boarded the MV International for our ride back.

We made our way to the bow of the boat and found a little girl there with her mom. She was just loving the ride. She took a bunch of photos and then spread her arms wide. I’m not sure if she’d seen the move Titanic, but her sheer joy made us smile!

Titanic Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

A little girl channels Kate Winslet on Titanic.

Bow selfie Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

We went for a more conventional selife!!

The M/V International is a historic boat that has been taking tourists on rides on Waterton Lake for decades. The boat is in beautiful condition and is lovingly maintained.

Mark tried to order room service up on deck, but there’s no food service on this short tour (LOL).

Ship talk Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

Mark tried to order some food from the kitchen… silly boy, that’s an air vent!

We cruised along the shore watching for bears and birds of prey. Soon the Prince of Wales Hotel appeared in the distance.

Prince of Wales Hotesl Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park_

The Prince of Wales Hotel looks tiny on the far shore.

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

All too soon, we were back in Waterton where this gorgeous hotel presides over a spectacular landscape!

Our wonderful tour was over much too soon. Our host, Kevin, had done a superior job, and he happily posed for a pic with me as we were leaving the boat. What a great time we’d had!!

With the captain and crew Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton-Glacier National Park Canada

Our host Kevin posed for a pic with me while deckhand Jack looked on from the ship.

If you are visiting Waterton Lakes National Park, be sure to get out on the water. There are multiple cruises to Goat Haunt every day, and there are a variety of hikes on the far shore as well.

Next time we visit, we are going to take the shorter cruise across the width of the lake to do the Crypt Lake Hike. This hike has been voted Canada’s Best Hike is rated by National Geographic as one of the World’s 20 most thrilling trails.

Waterton Shoreline Cruise Waterton Lakes National Park Canada

A magical tour at Waterton Lakes National Park!!

For those lucky enough to go on this cruise, here are a few tips:

  • Dress in layers. The wind can blow hard on this lake. We wore jackets for most of the trip out because we had a cold headwind. On the way back, we wore short sleeves because we didn’t even feel the tailwind and the sun was warm!
  • Bring binoculars or a long telephoto lens just in case there’s some exciting wildlife on shore.
  • Bring whatever snacks and water you might need. There’s no food service on the boat. There’s no bathroom either, but there are nice bathrooms at the turnaround point at Goat Haunt.
  • Consider doing one of the hikes at Goat Haunt and catching a later boat back to Waterton. If you hike, bring bug spray, as there can be mosquitos, and bring your passport too.

There is more info and more links for planning purposes below…

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Waterton Lakes National Park – Rocky Mountain High!

June 2016 – Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, is the northern tip of Montana’s Glacier National Park, and the two adjacent parks are united across the border of Canada and America as an “International Peace Park.” We’d heard rumors over the years that it was really beautiful, but when we got there, we found it is much more than that.

Waterton Lakes National Park is breathtaking!

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Here’s the view that greets visitors as they drive into Waterton Lakes National Park. Incredible!!

Where we had found that the four Canadian Rockies National Parks surrounding Lake Louise and Banff are awe-inspiring, with bold, jagged soaring peaks, and stunning scenic drives on internationally renowned highways, with big, trendy towns that give the international public easy access to all there is to see, and while the Kananskis is a spectacular area beloved by locals from Calgary, Waterton Lakes offers yet another twist on Rocky Mountains travel — eye-popping beauty in a remote locale that is intimate and charming at the same time.

Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Waterton Lakes!

The glorious Rocky Mountains undulate around the long and narrow Waterton Lakes, and the historic Prince of Wales Hotel stands on a bluff in the middle of it all, completing Nature’s masterpiece with flair.

Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

The historic Prince of Wales Hotel is a stunner.

The Prince of Wales Hotel is as grand inside as out, and as we wandered around inside we were floored by the dining room where you can enjoy a meal with an incredible view out enormous plate glass windows.

Picture windows Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Fine dining with a view — or High Tea if you wish!

Dining room view Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

What a backdrop.

A little beyond the hotel is the adorable village of Waterton. This cozy little community sits on the shores of the lake. At one end there’s a small marina.

Boats Prince of Wales Hotel 05 761 Prince of Wales Hotel Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

There is a little marina just below the Prince of Wales hotel in the village of Waterton.

This is a great spot to launch a kayak, and we saw quite a few people enjoying them.

Kayaks Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Here’s a nice way to get out on the water.

Kayak Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Going for a little afternoon spin…

The community here is very small and very tight knit and it is situated right in the heart of the National Park.

There are just a handful of hotels and one campground, and the whole of Waterton Lakes is miles from anywhere, so anyone coming here generally stays for a few days or a week. Faces become familiar in no time!!

The Waterton Opera House shows all kinds of movies, and it made for an ideal spot to spend a blustery “indoors” afternoon. Next door, the Waterton Coffee and Bagel shop became a frequent haunt for us in the mornings during our stay!!

Movie theater Coffee Shop Waterton Lakes National Park townsite

The town is as cute as a button, and when the weather turns ugly, a matinee at the historic
Waterton Opera House is a great way to go.

There are lots of restaurants and bistros in Waterton, as well as a small grocery store and even a laundromat. Be forewarned, though, that prices are astronomical. Provision up before getting here, and don’t be surprised if a pint at the super cute restaurant overlooking the lake is C$19. We paid a Loonie (that is, C$1) for every two minutes on the dryer at the laundromat.

For tips on currency exchange, gas prices and Parks Canada annual passes, see our blog post: RV Tips for Going to Canada.

Restaurant and pub Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

One of many little eateries around town.

The Townsite Campground is beautiful, and there are lots of sites that back right up to the waterfront.

Unfortunately, the entire Park is undergoing renovations this year (2016), so the waterfront loop of the Townsite Campground was closed during our stay. Also the two primary roads that lead to the best hikes and bike rides were also closed during our visit (see the link at the bottom of this post for current closures in the park).

Townsite Campground Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

The Townsite campground is delightful.

But even with only a portion of Waterton National Park open, it was an awesome place to explore, and we stayed for two weeks.

We weren’t the only ones sticking around. A herd of resident deer likes Waterton so much they’ve moved right into town.

Deer sleeping in shade Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

How many deer do you see in this photo?

They like the shady spots around town, and they seemed to be under every bush and alongside the shady side of every house.

Deer in the grass Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

These guys are not afraid of people at all.

Deer portrait Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

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They went about their business, doing their deer thing, as the people around them went about theirs, doing their tourist thing.

Deer nuzzle Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Can we nuzzle, deer?

They had absolutely no qualms about people, and they entertained a good sized crowd in the main waterfront park one Saturday afternoon.

Deer in the park Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

The deer roamed between the picnic tables in the town park.

Deer at picnic Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

“What are you guys looking at on your phone?”

Deer in the park Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

“You probably don’t even see me here!”

These guys are so tame you can walk right up to them and say hello!

Deer checking me out

I have a conversation with a deer

I even got to pat one on the nose… how fun!!

Patting a deer

I’ve never petted a deer that wasn’t in a pen. Cool!

These guys probably hang around because they can get free treats.

Deer licking its lips

“Yum!”

Just behind all the deer action at the town park, the views out onto Upper Waterton Lake were gorgeous.

Sailboat Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Waterton Lakes is absolutely stunning.

What a lovely place to go out for a sail! We noticed that the wind always picks up in the afternoon and is usually quite strong, funneling up the lake between the mountains.

Sailboat Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

Every afternoon the wind picks up and the sailors head out.

Waterton Lakes National Park is incredibly scenic and accessible and is very peaceful too.

Shoreline Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta Canada

We loved Waterton Lakes National Park and we stayed for a nice long visit.

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Waterton Lakes National Park is a fantastic destination for an RV trip. When we were there in early June, the Townsite Campground had openings every night midweek, but it was generally necessary to reserve a spot on the weekend. It is a short walk to town, there’s a shower building and flush toilets, and amenities ranged from no hookups to full hookups (eletric/water/sewer).

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Jasper National Park – Columbia Icefields & Athabasca Falls

May 2016 – During our RV travels through the Canadian Rockies, we explored the southern half of the Icefields Parkway a lot because it was easily accessible from our camping spot in Lake Louise. The beauty of the scenery on the Parkway astonished us every time.

Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

The Icefields Parkway was stunning every time we drove it.

But at last we struck out and drove the whole thing up to the town of Jasper.

RV travel Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

What a great scenic drive!

The Icefields Parkway is about 150 miles long, and every turn opened up another spectacular view.

Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

We never got tired of driving the Icefields Parkway!

The funny thing in this part of the Canadian Rockies is that two of the National Parks, Yoho and Kootenay, are in the province of British Columbia while the other two, Banff and Jasper, are in the province of Alberta. They all abut each other, but they are on the eastern and western borders of those two provinces.

The southern half of the Icefields Parkway is in Banff National Park, and eventually we came to the northern border of that park and crossed into Jasper National Park. The snow made fantastic patterns on the mountains.

Snow Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

Entering Jasper National Park, the snow created beautiful patterns on the mountains.

Snowcapped mountains Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

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The main attraction in the central portion of the Icefields Parkway, in Jasper National Park, is the Columbia Icefields. As we approached, we could see thick blankets of snow on the mountain peaks.

Glacier on the Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

The snow was really deep near the tops of some of the mountains.

In places the snow was piled extremely high and was sheered off in a vertical wall as if it had been plowed. But those vertical walls of snow had to be a few hundred feet high! Some of the ice in these snow piles was turquoise.

Snow on Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

Talk about a thick blanket of snow!

There was lots of avalanche activity in the mountain tops, and in some places ice and snow tumbled down.

Avalanche on the Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Avalanche!

When we stopped and got out of the truck, we could hear the thunderous rumble of avalanches way up high.

Snow avalanche Canadian Rocky Mountains

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The Columbia Icefields is an area of true glaciers — enormous bodies of ice that flow across the land, crushing the earth beneath them into a fine powder, and staying frozen year round.

There is a massive visitors center at the Columbia Icefields, and folks went up on the deck to take in the view and get photos.

RV Columbia Icefields Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Glaciers and avalanches make a great backdrop for a photo!

Down in the parking lot, dozens of tour buses were lined up waiting to take people out to the glaciers. This wasn’t quite what we expected.

Tour buses Columbia Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

Tour buses line up at the visitors center to take tourists out to the Columbia Icefields.

There were snowcat excursions that took people out onto the glaciers to drive around and walk around on the ice.

Snowcat tours Columbia Icefields Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

The Snowcats drive out onto the glacier.

We must have arrived just after a bunch of tour buses got there because there were throngs of people walking between the visitors center and the parking lot. Inside the visitors center there was an almost impenetrable crowd of people watching several big screen TVs that were showing videos of what you’d experience on the glacier excursions. To one side there was a very long line of people buying tickets.

This place is incredibly popular! And very few people were speaking English with a North American accent of any kind!!

Outside, we watched the tour buses disappear into the distance on the road that led out to the icefields.

Tour buses on the Columbia Icefields Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

Three tour buses head out to the Columbia Icefields from the visitors center.

We had been enjoying a more solitary experience as we had driven the parkway that morning, soaking in the views without a narrator or crowd of companions, and we weren’t in a full-on tourism kind of mood. So we opted to save a glacier excursion for another visit.

One thing that intrigued us about the Icefields Parkway is that the highest part of the entire road and the highest mountain peaks are all in the southern end in the Banff National Park half, and they aren’t all that high.

Even though the Parkway offers the most spectacular mountain scenery we have seen in North America, the Bow Lake summit in the southern half of the Parkway, which is the highest summit of any paved road in Canada, is just 6,800 feet above sea level, while the village of Lake Louise sits at just 5,249 feet. Both of these are lower than Flagstaff, Arizona, which is around 7,000 feet!

Surprisingly, the Red Mountain Pass outside of Ouray, Colorado, traverses a summit of 11,000 feet, and the rim overlooks at Cedar Breaks National Park amphitheater in Utah are at 10,000 feet. But nowhere have we seen jagged peaks and towering mountains like those around Banff.

As we drove north towards Jasper, our elevation gradually dropped to just 3,500 feet, and the snow began to disappear from the mountains.

Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

As we approached Jasper, the mountains lost their snow.

They towered over us in glorious splendor, but there were none of the snowcapped peaks we had been living with for the last few weeks!

Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada

The Jasper National Park portion of the Icefields Parkway.

We stopped to photograph a wonderful waterfall that was right next to the parkway.

Waterfall Icefields Parkway Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

A waterfall by the side of the road caught our eye.

And then we arrived at Athabasca Falls, a place with such a great name we just had to check it out!

Athabasca Falls has lots of wonderful short trails that wander all around the river and falls, offering a wide variety of views, and some fabulous winding stairs weave between the rock walls. Everyone stopped at the top of these stairs on their way down to get a photo. We did too!

Athabasca Falls Stairway Jasper National Park Canada

Curvy stairs and rocks… so cool!

Once we got down below the falls, we had a fantastic view looking back up at them and the bridge that crosses over them. A rain shower had just passed through, and all the vegetation and moss was glowing.

Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Lush vegetation surrounds Athabasca Falls.

The waterfall itself is not very tall or long but the water crashes down with great force through a picturesque canyon.

Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Athabasca Falls.

The sound of the water slipping over the edge from the serene river upstream is very loud, and the power of the rushing water is extraordinary. I suspect the copious recent rains and spring run-off added to the water flow and made it especially impressive.

Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

You could hear the sound of Athabasca Falls from quite a distance away.

I wandered down a pretty wooded trail on the far side of the waterfall and found myself a little upstream of the thundering falls where the river was much more placid. It flowed quickly but not at a sprinter’s pace.

The trail went right along the water’s edge. Suddenly I saw a warning sign and some caution tape strung between two trees. Underneath there was a lovingly made ceramic plaque that had a heart and stars and moons on it and the name Justin in big letters.

Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

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On the other side of the trail I saw another sign that memorialized a young man named Justin who, at 24 years of age in 2012, ventured a little too close to the edge and was swept away over the falls.

I looked at the rapidly flowing water just behind the plaque and the inviting way the light was playing around the tree trunks at the water’s edge. I felt that curious and familiar lure to reach down and dip my hand in the swirling water.

Chills went up my spine.

I wandered back to the heart of the falls and suddenly saw them with a new and very cautious eye.

Rainbow Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains 2

The power of these falls was a little unnerving after seeing the family memorial for Justin.

The force of that water was staggering!

Waterfall Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Yikes!

Books have been written about the dramatic ways people die in the National Parks, but this tiny, tearful yet smiling memorial on the edge of a little used trail told a much more vivid story than the words in any book ever could.

I gathered myself together and wandered around until I found Mark at a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking the narrow canyon. He snagged a beautiful shot.

Dawn Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Dawn at Athabasca Falls

We returned to Athabasca Falls at dawn one morning to catch the soft light filtering through the mist as it hovered above the water.

Sunrise Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Sunrise and mist at daybreak.

The peacefulness of the falls at that early hour was magical.

Dawn Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

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As always, 24/7, the thunderous roar of the water filled the air everywhere, giving the place an incredibly noisy soundtrack. But besides us and a ranger and another pair of early risers, the woods were utterly still.

Sunrise Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Sunrise paints the sky and water in pastel colors.

Below the falls the water was flat and playfully swirled around in big sweeping eddies as it made its way downstream.

Sunrise Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

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Later in the day, the water in that spot turned a milky shade of jade. The horizontally striped yellow and orange rock cliffs on the far side of the river made a striking contrast to the water.

Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

As the sun rose, the Athabasca River became jade green.

There is a rocky beach of sorts at this spot below the falls, and we wandered around on the rocks for a bit. Someone — or a group of someones — had built fifty or more rock cairns in the shape of little people all over the beach.

It was an intriguing sight that must have a very cool story behind it, but there were no other clues about its meaning or origins… just a thick collection of little rock people standing around, facing in all directions, arms out.

[Note: Several readers contacted us after reading this post to let us know these cairns are “Inuksuks” (there are various spellings) that have their origins with the indigenous people of the far north.]

Rock cairns Athabasca Falls Jasper National Park Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Someone had made 50 or so rock cairns by the water’s edge. Many looked like people!
We learned after publishing this post that these are “Inuksuks.”

When we got back to the parking lot there was a group of people standing around there too, but these folks were all aiming their cameras at our trailer! As we got closer, we realized why. Someone had parked a tiny teardrop trailer right next to our buggy, and the two looked very cute together.

Big and little RV trailer

Are these trailers the same species??

The people with the cameras were all from Europe, and the idea of lugging around a trailer as huge as ours struck them as a funny and quirky oddity that’s appropriately peculiar to the New World where large roads and long distances are common.

As we chatted about RVs on both sides of the pond, and showed them the inside of our rig, they busily uploaded their pics of the big-and-little-brother trailers from their phones to Facebook for friends and family back in Germany and the Czech Republic (which our newfound friends informed us had just acquired the new name of Czechia a few weeks prior).

What a crazy, instantaneous and in-the-moment world this is!!

The folks with the teardrop trailer returned. They hailed from Tennessee and were headed to Alaska on a four month tour. We hopped in our truck and carried on towards the town of Jasper.

As our many posts from the Canadian Rockies have shown, the National Parks at the heart of the most dramatic of the Rocky Mountains are a great area for RV travelers to explore. Scroll down for some links to help you plan your bucket list trip!!

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Hot Springs in the Canadian Rockies – Swimming in Giant Hot Tubs!!

May 2016 – During our stay in the Canadian Rockies we had a wild mix of weather. We were lucky and got some sunny days in the low 80’s but then Mother Nature changed her mind and delivered several weeks of grey, rainy days in the 40’s to the 60’s. That’s mountain weather for you!

Canadian Rocky Mountains and Canadian Flag

The Canadian Rockies are stunningly beautiful but can be stormy too!

The cold and rain didn’t stop the flood of tourists, though, and people were still out taking selfies at Lake Louise in the pouring rain with a pair of umbrellas to keep their phone dry!!

Lake Louise Alberta Canada Selfie in the rain

The tourists don’t quit coming just because the sun doesn’t shine…
If you need a selfie and it’s raining out, just use an umbrella (or two!)

Driving out on the Icefields Parkway the low hanging clouds made for a special kind of beauty.

Canadian Rockies Icefields Parkway Clouds

Storm clouds gather on the Icefields Parkway

Occasionally the mist rolled in and covered the peaks.

Canadian Rockies Icefields Parkway Clouds

The mist descends.

It was very beautiful, but it was really chilly too!!

Icefields Parkway Canada Rocky Mountains Snow and Mist

A great view, but not so warm!

After a while, cruising around shivering and looking up at mountains shrouded in mist kinda got to us. Especially when we looked at the forecast for the week ahead. Brrr!

Lake Louise one week weather forecast

What kind of outdoor fun can be had in the Canadian Rockies with this kind of forecast?

Luckily, the Canadian Rockies have some fantastic hot springs that are an absolutely wonderful place to go on a cold, dreary day.

Radium Hot Springs, in Kootenay National Park, looks like a swimming pool from a distance. But unlike most swimming pools, the water is a toasty 104 degrees Fahrenheit!

Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park BC Rockies

Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park

It was really weird to step into a swimming pool and have it feel like a hot tub.

Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park Canada Rocky Mountains

It is so crazy to get into a huge swimming pool that is downright hot!

The water for Radium Hot Springs bubbles up from underground and passes through the pool. So the pool is a few degrees warmer at one end than the other. There is enough hot water coming up from the ground to heat the building in the winter!

The hot springs were first discovered by Sir George Simpson, the governor of the Hudson Bay Company, in 1841. He dug a one-person sized pool in the gravel. An Englishman bought the springs from a homesteader for $160 in 1890 and built the first bathhouse and public pool.

Radium Hot Springs got its name because in 1914 McGill University scientists found the water was radioactive. However, the amount is so slight that a half-hour dip exposes you to less than you get from wearing an old glow-in-the-dark analog watch dial.

As we relaxed in the pool we got a great view of the natural surroundings…

Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park Rocky Mountains Canada

The view from Radium Hot Springs.

…and of our feet…

Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park British Columbia Rocky Mountains

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We had fun playing with our waterproof camera under water.

Swimming Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park Rocky Mountains Canada

Who would guess this water was 104 degrees?!

It’s hard to believe looking at these pics that the air temp was 48 degrees. It even started to sprinkle while we were in the pool, but who cared. It was like playing in a huge hot tub.

Swimming Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park Canadian Rockies

This was so much fun!

Radium Hot Springs has a cool pool too, but they didn’t have many takers that day, only the folks that had signed up for swimming lessons!!

Cold Pool Radium Hot Springs British Columbia Kootenay National Park Canada

When it’s 48 degrees outside, not many folks use the Cool Pool at Radium Hot Springs!

The entrance fee for Radium Hot Springs is just a few dollars per person, and it is worth every penny. There are changing rooms and lockers to store your stuff and towels for rent, and there are showers with soap as well. There’s even a fancy spa if you feel like getting a massage!

The hot springs are at the southern entrance of Kootenay National Park, and the very scenic drive through the park starts right outside their door.

RV at Radium Hot Springs Kootenay National Park Canada

The stretch of road in Kootenay National Park near Radium Hot Springs goes through a neat canyons

About 80 miles northeast of Radium Hot Springs there is another fantastic giant hot tub: Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Like Radium Hot Springs, the Banff Upper Hot Springs pool is outside in a lovely, scenic setting, and there are lockers so you can shed your rain coat and long pants and dash into the warm and inviting swimming pool. And again, the water temperature is about 104 degrees and it really doesn’t matter how cold the air is when you find yourself swishing in this fantastic warm water.

Banff Upper Hot Springs Alberta Canada

Banff Upper Hot Springs is a pretty pool with another terrific Rocky Mountains view.

The Banff hot springs were first discovered in 1883, and even though the breathtaking mountains of Banff National Park were worthy of creating a National Park, it was actually the hot springs that led to the creation of Banff National Park.

The hot springs pools have been rebuilt and renovated at various times, and the bathhouse has undergone changes (the very first one burnt down just 15 years after its construction, in 1901).

Banff Hot Springs Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

The existence of the hot springs was one of the reasons Canada’s national parks came into existence.

But it is the weird sensation of sitting in a normal looking swimming pool that is filled with such darned hot water that really surprised me. Even though we got so warm we had to sit on the side of the pool to cool off, we could tell what the air temps really felt like by looking at the lifeguard in her chair.

Banff Hot Springs Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

Think it’s warm there? The lifeguard is wearing a jacket!!

The two lifeguards actually took turns sitting in the exposed chair out in the open, because it was so cold there. While one froze their toes in the outdoor chair, the other warmed up and kept an eye on all of us swimmers from inside a glass room!!

Lifeguard Banff Hot Springs Alberta Canada Rocky Mountains

The lifeguards took turns warming up in the glass enclosed box by the pool!

If your RV travels take you to the beautiful National Parks in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, and you find yourself staring at a week of yucky weather, stop by one of the hot springs. Even on a cold, dark day, it feels like summer!

RV travel Banff National Park Canadian Rocky Mountains

An RV trip through the Canadian Rockies may happen under sunny skies — or may send you straight to the hot springs to warm up!

There is another hot spring a little further north in Jasper National Park called Miette Hot Springs. We didn’t get there this time but will definitely be bringing our bathing suits for that hot spring the next time we visit!

More info and links below…

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More info about the Canadian Rockies hot springs http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/voyage-travel/sources-springs/index.aspx:

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Yoho National Park – Emerald Lake & Natural Bridge – Aqua Magic!

May 2016 – Just 25 miles from Lake Louise, there is a treasure trove of glittering aqua magic at the rushing waters of Natural Bridge and in the serene, glassy depths of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.

Yoho National Park British Columbia Natural Bridge

Views along Emerald Lake Road in Yoho National Park.

Four national parks are clustered together in this part of the Canadian Rockies, and Lake Louise is within reasonable shooting distance of all of them. Banff National Park and Jasper National Park lie on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide in the province of Alberta while Kootenay National Park and Yoho National Park lie on the western slope. All four parks abut each other.

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada Rocky Mountains

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Despite the cold gray weather of a late May morning, we headed out to see what we could find at Yoho National Park. We’d never heard of it before, but being a National Park, it had to be good!

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada

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We were aiming for Emerald Lake on the map. A name like that seemed to hold real promise! So it was a total shock when we rounded a bend on Emerald Lake Road and came across a fabulous bowl of turquoise waterfalls! This definitely wasn’t “Emerald Lake,” but it was a vivid aquamarine color and was very cool!

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada Rocky Mountains

Natural Bridge came as a complete surprise on our way to Emerald Lake.

It turned out that this place was called Natural Bridge.

Waterfall at Natural Bridge Yoho National Park BC Canada

Water tumbled every which-way.

We wandered all around the rocks, totally mesmerized by the vivid color of the water flowing over them.

Waterfalls at Natural Bridge Yoho National Park BC Canada

Jagged rocks and rushing water.

It was all so beautiful, it was impossible to decide whether to stand still and try to take it all in and admire it quietly, or to run around on the rocks and zip back and forth over the bridge to try and see it from all angles all at once.

Bridge at Natural Bridge Yoho National Park British Columvia

Tourists line the bridge overlooking the falls.

The Natural Bridge itself is formed by two rocks that make a narrow arch over the rushing water.

Yoho National Park Natural Bridge Canadian Rockies

The “Natural Bridge” is an arch over fast moving water.

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park British Columbia

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But the most beautiful spot is right in front of this bowl of waterfalls where they seem to cascade into each other from every direction.

This spot is also where the tour buses let people off, and the buses were arriving in droves!

Tourists Natural Bridge Yoho National Park BC Canadian Rockies

Busloads of people arrived in waves.

The mission of everyone on every bus was to jump off and get a quickie selfie before jumping back on and zooming away to the next destination.

Selfie Natural Bridge Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada

The name of the game of the modern tourist – Selfie!!

I thought it would be neat to do a timelapse video that would show the water flowing over the rocks. Instead, I captured an awesome 6 second snippet of selfie-crazed tourists visiting a world renowned travel destination!

Continuing a few miles further down the same road, we finally arrived at Emerald Lake. Our first glimpse was of the Emerald Lake Lodge peeking out between the trees.

Emerald Lake Lodge Yoho National Park Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake Lodge appeared between the trees in the distance.

What a lovely lodge and in what a great setting!

Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake Lodge

Emerald Lake Lodge Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake has canoes for rent, and even though it was a bit cool to be on the water, people were happily taking the canoes out.

Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canadian Rockies

Canoes ready and waiting on the dock.

Canoe Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada Rocky Mountains

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Maybe by taking the canoes out they persuaded the sun to come out for a little bit too. For a few moments, it was almost sunbathing weather on the dock!

Emerald Lake sunbathing Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada

Dreams of summer.

Like nearby Lake Louise and Moraine Lake as well as Peyto Lake and Waterfowl Lakes on the Icefields Parkway, we were blown away by the bright and rich color of the water here at Emerald Lake.

Canoes Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada Rocky Mountains

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Canoe Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canadian Rockies

Paddling across the pages of a brochure!

There is an easy trail that heads out around the western side of the lake, and we strolled along this path we came across a field of pretty wildflowers that lured Mark right down to the ground.

Wildflowers Emerald Lake Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada

Mark gets down with the flowers.

And what wonderful photos he took!

Wildflower Emeral Lake Yoho National Park

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The view across the lake looking back towards the Emerald Lake Lodge was expansive, and the water was amazingly still.

Emerald Lake Lodge Yoho National Park Canada

The mountains reflect in the lake below.

Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something floating by. Then it splashed around a bit and threw a spray of water into the air. It was a loon!

Loon in Emerald Lake Yoho National Park BC Canadian Rockies

It’s a loon!

He was taking a late afternoon bath!

Loon Emerald Lake Yoho National Park BC Canada Rocky Mountains

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He didn’t seem to mind being photographed as he dipped and bobbed in the water, so I clicked away. What luck!!

Loon Emerald Lake Yoho National Park BC Canada Rocky Mountains

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There is a lot more to see in Yoho National Park than just Natural Bridge and Emerald Lake, and on our way home we stopped in the unique little train depot town of Field to poke around. This is a cute village of B&B’s that is perched right on the edges of Banff and Yoho National Parks, making an ideal home base for visitors.

One of the homes is the original Yoho National Park Superintendant’s house. He had some pretty nice digs! A sign explained that he had such an elaborate house to give him an air of authority in the newly formed National Park where the more gritty industries of mining and railroads had always ruled.

Yoho Natioanl Park Superintendant's House British Columbia

The original Yoho National Park Superitendant’s House

The drive to and from Yoho National Park is beautiful — as are all the highway drives in the area. Some of the best mountains views to be found are actually right on the Trans-Canada 1 highway!

Yoho National Park Canadian Rockies Canada

The drive between Lake Louise and Emerald Lake was striking.

We returned home to Lake Louise and unwound a bit. It was cold and gray and wet, but the scenery we had been seeing was so heavenly we sure didn’t mind!!

Happy campers Lake Luise Banff National Park Canada

Yeah, it’s cold, but who cares?!

More info about Emerald Lake & Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park in the links below…

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Moraine Lake – Crown Jewel of Banff National Park

May 2016 – While Lake Louise may be the heart of Banff National Park in Canada, Moraine Lake is its crown jewel. During our stay in this glorious part of the Canadian Rockies, we visited Moraine Lake several times.

Moraine Lake Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Moraine Lake is without doubt the crown jewel of Banff National Park!

If you do a Google search for Banff National Park and click on “Images,” almost every image is of Moraine Lake. It is such a beloved spot that the iconic view of the lake from the moraine rock pile on its northern shore was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill for ages.

Moraine Lake Canada 20 dollar bill

Moraine Lake was on the back of the $20 bill in Canada.

For much of our stay in Lake Louise, the road to Moraine Lake was closed to motor vehicles. However, it was open to cyclists, and we enjoyed a fabulous 18 mile round trip bike ride to the lake and back.

Moraine Lake Bike Ride View Lake Louise Bnaff

The view over the handlebars!

The snow was still thick in certain areas, and Mark noticed someone had drawn a heart in the snow and put their initials in it. He made a slight modification to those initials so they would be “M + M.” Sweet!

Moraine Lake Bike Ride Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

There was still a lot of snow along the road to Moraine Lake when we rode there on our bicycles.

The bike ride to Moraine Lake is very popular, especially in the pre-season when bikes have the entire road to themselves.

Tandem bicycle Moraine Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

There’s a bit of a climb heading to the lake, but what a view to ride towards!

When we got to the lake we found hundreds of logs lying on the ground. Even though we were in cycling clothes, we scrambled all over the place on the shore to get photos and enjoy the views that were all ours for the moment.

Moraine Lake Bike Ride Banff National Park Alberta Canada

When we first got to Moraine Lake on our bikes, we were the only ones there.

Cyclist at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Woo hoo!!

The lake was extremely low. It was so low that a floating dock in front of the Moraine Lake Lodge was sitting on the ground.

Moraine Lake Dry lakebed Lake Louise Banff

The water level in the lake was low enough that a summertime float was sitting on the ground.

Luckily, there was still plenty of lake to enjoy. I crawled up on the huge pile of rocks to get a bird’s eye view. Wow!!

Moraine Lake Banff National Park Lake Louise Canada

What a view!

Our bike ride to Moraine Lake was one we will never forget.

Bike Ride Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

What a fantastic ride this was.

On the return trip from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise, after an initial climb, we had a fantastic, screaming descent. I was surprised to look on my bike computer afterwards and see I’d hit 40.5 mph. Not bad for just coasting on a mountain bike! (But not quite as zippy as when Mark and I hit 64.5 mph on our tandem descending a steep hill in Texas years ago!).

Bicycle computer 40.5 mph riding at Moraine Lake Banff National Park

Not too shabby for a mountain bike.

The road to Moraine Lake was finally opened to motor vehicles in the last week of May, and we drove up there early one morning to catch a sunrise.

Sunrise Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park

The first glimpse of sunrise at Moraine Lake.

The pink and orange hues of the mountain peaks reflected beautifully in the lake below.

Dawn Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park

Reflections at daybreak.

As we were leaving, we noticed a nearly full moon between the peaks.

Moon at dawn Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

There was a cool moon too!

Full moon at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Moraine Lake deserves many return visits, and we couldn’t stay away.

Cycling Lake Moraine Banff National Park Alberta Canada

What a place to ride a bike!

Both cyclists and motor vehicles of all kinds drive up from Lake Louise all day long. It’s an okay road for a small RV, but I wouldn’t take anything much bigger than a short Class C because the parking lot at the lake gets crowded.

RV travel Moraine Lake Banff National Park Alberta Canada

RVing in the Canadian Rockies – Wow Wow Wow!

There is a terrific viewing area right next to the parking lot called the “Rock Pile.” When we had come by bike, we didn’t see it, and I had scrambled all over the slippery rock pile. But when we came by car, we saw the trail right by the bathrooms and joined the throngs of people that were walking on the easy and short paths and staircases in and around the rocks.

Rock stairs Moraine Lake Banff National Park

On our first visit, we had no idea there were stairs up onto the rock pile for the best lake views.

Everyone wants to see “The View” at Moraine Lake, and no wonder, it is gorgeous! But this is also a place where you can slip away from the crowd a bit, find a comfy seat on a rock, and take in other views around the lake.

Relaxing at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise Banff NP Alberta Canada

Mark took a little time out away from the crowds.

Snow clouds Moraine Lake Banff National Park

And how great it is to kick back and gaze at this view high above!

We both savored our time at Moraine Lake, and I wandered away from the rim too.

Happy camper Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Alberta Canada

Sometimes it’s most satisfying to stop dashing here and there and just to sit down and look around.

I looked up and saw the crests of the mountains were filled with beautiful patterns.

Patterns in the Rocky Mountains Moraine Lake Banff Lake Louise

Wonderful patterns in the mountains around Moraine Lake

We discovered the rock pile at the north end of the lake is filled with savvy little chipmunks. These guys are adorable little beggars (buggers) who are anything but shy.

Chipmunk at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Lake Louise

Smart little chipmunks live in the rock pile and keep an eye out for free food.

Their main focus is seeing who’s got what kind of snacks to share. Sometimes they get lucky and can have lunch with a view.

Chipmunk at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise Alberta Canada

Sneaking a snack with a fabulous view!

The views at Moraine Lake drew us back again and again.

Boulders at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Moraine Lake is truly exquisite.

Even when the scenic overlook is filled with people who have turned their backs to the view while they worship the selfie god, it is still a spectacular place to be.

Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Worshipping the selfie god – what a great place to do it!

If you take your RV to Lake Louise, a visit to Moraine Lake is an absolute must.

In the pre-season, the car-free bike ride is truly exhilarating and you’ll find the lake very peaceful and quiet when you get there. But even in the busier season when the road and parking lot are loaded with cars, and people are crammed in everywhere, it is still a beautiful drive with utterly breathtaking views.

Moraine Lake Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Moraine Lake – Sensational!!

There’s more info about Moraine Lake in the links below…

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Here are some helpful links for the area:

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Icefields Parkway – True Blue Lakes, Avalanches & Grouse!

May 2016 – The Icefields Parkway weaves between towering mountain peaks through the Canadian Rockies in Banff and Jasper National Parks, offering up a new and utterly astonishing vista at every turn.

RV travel Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canadian Rocky Mountains

The Icefields Parkway takes you from one jaw-dropping view to another..for 150 miles!

We wanted to catch the magic of Canada’s Rocky Mountains at dawn, and on a few mornings we hopped on the Icefields Parkway at the break of day to chase down down that magical moment.

Bow Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canadian Rockies

Dawn at Bow Lake on the Icefields Parkway

But it is hard to capture the soft pinks that fill the sky a half hour before sunrise when the sun crests the horizon at 5:30 a.m., as it does in this part of the world in late May, especially since it wasn’t getting totally dark until nearly 11 p.m. So much for sleeping!

Bow Lake Icefields Parkway Banff Canada

Morning on the Icefields Parkway.

So, we didn’t quite make it before sunrise, but we still got the beautiful golden glow that spreads across the mountains as they wake up.

Rocky Mountains Banff National Park Icefields Parkway

Soft light radiates across the peaks of the Rocky Mountains

Banff National Park Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway_

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The snow was thick in certain spots up on the mountain peaks, and we loved the patterns the rock and snow made high above us.

Canadian Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway Banff

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Patterns on the Rocky Mountains Banff National Park Canada

Beautiful patterns on the crests of the Rockies

The tourist literature for the Icefields Parkway doesn’t wax poetic about any particular location. Their implied suggestion is simply that you should explore on your own and discover the most exquisite spots for yourself.

Bow Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Looking across Bow Lake.

Luckily, a friend had told us to make sure we didn’t miss Peyto Lake. He hadn’t elaborated about why Peyto Lake was a “must see,” but as soon as we emerged from the short hiking trail to the viewing area that overlooks the lake, we knew exactly why he wanted us to go there.

Peyto Lake Banff National Park Icefields Parkway Alberta Canada

Peyto Lake comes into view.

“Oh, Wow!” I blurted, my eyes like saucers. “Who spilled the can of blue paint?”

Peyto Lake Icefields Parkway Canadian Rocky Mountains Banff National Park

Is Peyto Lake really that blue? Yes!

The small crowd on the viewing platform laughed. Every hiker that arrived had the same shocked look on their face as I did when they came upon the stunningly gorgeous view in front of them. The color of Peyto Lake was extraordinary.

A group lined up for a selfie, and who wouldn’t?

Selfie at Peyto Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

Selfie time!

A dad took his son below the deck and sat with him for little while enjoying the view. What an unforgettable moment and priceless memory.

Peyto Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Alberta Canada

A father and son take a moment to enjoy the view together.

His wife was standing next to me at the overlook, and we chatted for a few moments. I discovered they were from Germany and they had visited Peyto Lake a week earlier when the mountains had been blanketed in snow. “It was all white — except for that blue,” she said, her hand sweeping across the painted landscape as she described what she had seen.

All of the rivers and lakes in the Canadian Rockies turn vivid green and blue in the sunlight, as long as the water isn’t too stirred up. The water is full of “glacial flour” which is crushed rock that the glaciers have ground down to a fine powder as they move. This crushed rock becomes suspended in the water and creates vivid blues and greens in the sunlight.

Another beautiful pair of lakes on the Icefields Parkway is the Waterfowl Lakes (Upper and Lower). Rather than royal blue, these lakes are turquoise colored like Lake Louise.

Waterfowl Lake Banff National Park Icefields Parkway

Unlike the true blue of Peyto Lake, the Waterfowl Lakes are turquoise!

We didn’t see any waterfowl there, but as we were wandering around the shore, we came across a grouse.

Grouse on the Icefileds Parkway Banff National Park

Down at our feet, Mark spotted a grouse!

This bird noticed us, but she wasn’t too concerned. She was preoccupied with brushing off the amorous attentions of a her suitor who was walking around her in circles.

Male grouse on the Icefileds Parkway Banff National Park

“Hey, baby, are you free tonight?”

This guy was pulling out all the stops for her.

Male grouse strutting Banff National Park Canada

Do you think I’m sexy?

She wasn’t all that impressed, even though he was strutting his stuff for all he was worth, but I sure was!

Male grouse struts Banff National Park Canada

She was having none of it, but I thought his display was great!

Back out on the Icefields Parkway, we continued to be blown away by the towering mountains and their snowy peaks.

Icefields Parkway scenic drive Banff National Park Canada

The scenery on the Icefields Parkway never gets boring!

Occasionally, when we pulled over to admire the views, we could hear the thunderous sound of an avalanche high up in the mountains.

Rocky Mountains Peyto Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park

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Then we’d see the snow pouring down the crevices in the side of the mountain.

Avalanches Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Avalanches are common as the snow melts in the spring.

It was incredible just how loud these avalanches were, and equally incredible just how hard it was to spot where the avalanche was happening. They were way far up in the peaks, and they didn’t seem all that big from our vantage point on the ground.

Canadian Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway Banff NP

Triangles in the sky.

The loftiness of the mountains was awe-inspiring.

Canadian Rockies Icefield Parkway Banff National Park

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And the clarity of lakes was too.

Herbert Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

Herbert Lake

The Icefields Parkway is a fast moving thoroughfare between Lake Louise and Jasper, but we never got tired of driving it!

RV at Bow Lake Banff National Park Icefields Parkway

Now THAT’s a scenic drive!

The village at the southern end of the Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise, makes a great “home base” for exploring the southern half of the Icefields Parkway. For more info, see this post: Lake Lousise – Heart of Banff National Park. At the end of that post (and in the following link) there is info about RV camping at Lake Louise.

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Icefields Parkway – Canadian Rockies Scenic Drive – WOW!

May 2016 – The Icefields Parkway is a 150 mile long scenic drive in Alberta, Canada, that goes between Lake Louise in Banff National Park at the south end and the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park at the north end.

It is touted to be one of the world’s top scenic drives. And they aren’t kidding!

Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Alberta Canada

The Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s most spectacular scenic drives.

We drove the southern half of this eye-poppoing scenic drive several times during our stay in Lake Louise. We were blown away by the thrilling views every single time.

Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Alberta Canada

The dramatic views never quit!

The Canadian Rockies were right there all around us, nearly close enough to reach out and touch.

RV on Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada Rocky Mountains

RVs are the most common vehicles on the Icefields Parkway.

The mountains towered in front of us and behind us, and we kept jumping around in our seats looking in every direction out the windows, our jaws hanging open in amazement.

Icefields Parkway Canadian Rocky Mountains Banff National Park

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The mountains changed shape and color constantly as we drove in the varying light of early morning, midday and late afternoon.

RV in Rocky Mountains on Icefields Parkway

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The magnificent Icefields Parkway provides a feast for the eyes while driving but, for its length, it has suprisingly few scenic overlooks and pullouts where drivers can stop to admire the breathtaking vistas.

One of the best scenic viewpoints is at Herbert Lake. It is the very first pullout at the south end of the Icefields Parkway, and loads of drivers who start their drive at Lake Louise zoom right by.

Herbert Lake Icefields Parkway Canada Rocky Mountains Banff National Park

Herbert Lake – A gorgeous spot on the Icefields Parkway that many northbound tourists skip past!

The temptation when you round the bend and pass Herbert Lake and first catch a glimpse of the mountains reflecting in the water is to think, “Oh, we’ll have lots of scenic viewpoints on this drive, and the Icefields Parkway is 150 miles long, so let’s keep going for a while and stop a little further down the road.” After all, you’ve been on the Icefields Parkway for all of about three minutes at this point! We zipped by the first time but made a point to stop there on several return visits.

As I stared at the mirrored reflections in the lake one morning, I noticed the clouds were flying across the sky. So I set up a timelapse on my camera to capture the swift movement and variable light. What a cool result!!

One day as we drove along the Icefields Parkway, we were craning our necks looking up at the mountains when we noticed a cluster of cars pulled over on the shoulder of the road. Everyone was pointing their cameras towards the woods. It turned out there was a black bear just in front of the trees.

Getting a photo of a bear Banff National Park Canada

People stopped there cars to snap pics of a bear.

What a beauty he was!! We were tickled to see a bear so effortlessly for a second time here in the Canadian Rockies.

Black bear Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

Another wonderful black bear sighting!

He stood still for a long time, chowing down on the grass, and our cameras clicked furiously.

Black Bear Banff National Park Icefields Parkway

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Black Bear Icefields Parkway Banff National Park_

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He stayed so long that his audience cycled in and out. Some folks got back in their cars and drove off and newcomers pulled over to park and stare in awe. Finally, the bear lumbered off into the woods.

Black bear Banff National Park Icefields Parkway Canada

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There are a number of dry camping campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway but most were closed, even in late May. We wandered through a few — what great spots to camp during the summertime! — and we discovered a lovely view of the Rockies reflecting quietly in a large puddle on the ground near Mosquito Creek Campground.

Reflections Canadian Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway Banff

Canadian Rockies reflections…

Lots of RVs travel this highway, and we saw more rental RVs than any other kind of vehicle on the road. The Icefields Parkway was under construction in spots, so there were loads of big construction trucks driving very fast on a mission to get where they were going. In the early mornings, though, we had the road to ourselves.

Rental RV Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada Rocky Mountains

The Icefields Parkway is a popular spot to take an RV!

One of the biggest and most popular scenic pullouts is at Bow Lake. This is a stunning lake, and we caught it in a mild mood one morning when it was as still as glass.

Bow Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canadian Rockies

Serenity on Bow Lake.

The patterns of the snow on the mountains reflected beautifully in the green depths of the water.

Bow Lake Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canadian Rocky Mountains

We loved the images the mountains created in the green water of Bow Lake.

The pullout at Bow Lake is very large, and we hung out for an hour or so watching the tourists come and go. First there was one RV.

RV driving on Icefields Parkway to Jasper Banff National Park Canada Rockies

An RV slows down to pull over at Bow Lake

Then two.

RV parking on Icefields Parkway to Jasper Banff National Park Canada Rockies

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Then the tour buses began to show up and park alongside the cars and RVs. There was a constant shuffle of vehicles coming and going and people running around the overlook admiring the exquisite view.

RV and tour bus sightseeing Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada Rocky Mountains

Bow Lake is the most popular pullout in the southern half of the Icefields Parkway. It was busy in the off season!

Everyone wanted a selfie. Well, if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em! So, we got one too!

Happy hikers Banff National Park Icefields Parkway

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Our original plan had been to drive the Icefields Parkway with our rig, going slowly from south to north, and possibly camping midway at the Columbia Icefields.

Canadian Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

We never got tired of views like these!

But we soon found out that being 55′ long from end to end, we would have struggled to fit in most of the pullouts and in almost all the trailhead parking areas.

Rocky Mountains Icefields Parkway Canada

Icefields Parkway scenery – beautiful!

So, we drove the Icefields Parkway at leisure in our truck, stopping in different places each time we drove it, and never having to fight to squeeze a big rig into a tiny parking area.

Eventually, when we were finally ready to go all the way to Jasper, we took our rig straight through without stopping. But there was a lot to see around Lake Louise and Banff first, so that story will have to wait!

Fifth wheel RV on the Icefields Parkway Banff National Park Canada

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The Icefields Parkway is a glorious road, and it is an easy drive that doesn’t involve any hairpin turns or steep climbs. So it is very manageable for a big RV and tow vehicle/toad as long as you don’t plan to pull over too often. And the views… oh my, the views!!

Canadian Rockies Banff National Park Icefields Parkway Canada

We saw sensational Canadian Rockies scenery at every turn on the Icefields Parkway

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Other blog posts from our RV travels in Canada and the Canadian Rockies:

Canada RV travel tips – Border crossing, currency exchange, gas prices, etc.
Our RV adventures in Canada – All the places we have enjoyed in Canada

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Lake Louise – RV Travels to the Heart of the Rockies in Banff

May 2016 – Banff National Park is the heart of the Canadian Rockies, and Lake Louise is at the very center of that heart. After we took our RV through the wonderful mountain scenery of Kootenay National Park, our appetites had been whetted by all the gorgeous snowcapped peaks rising up in the distance, and we were ready to slow down and see them up close. Lake Louise was the ideal spot.

Lake Louise dawn Banff National Park Alberta Canada-2

Dawn at Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Lake Louise is a turquoise lake tucked into a circle of snowcapped mountains, and at dawn we found the water was glassy smooth and utterly clear.

Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

Lake Louise

This is a top tourist destination, and from just after sunrise until well after dark it is loaded to the gills with people from all over the world. But during the pre-dawn hours of quiet mornings in mid-May, we found ourselves sharing the lake with just a few other people, all with cameras aimed across the lake.

Dawn Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Crystal clear water and mirrored reflections at Lake Louise

The early morning rays of sun cast a pink and orange glow on the snow covered peaks in the distance. The air was calm, and the few people down at the lake were silent as they gazed across the water. When we spoke, we whispered. There was a special, intimate aura among us all, an acknowledgement that this was a unique moment we would all remember.

Lake Louise Dawn Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Sunrise at Lake Louise

Just a few steps behind us, the enormous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel rose up to towering heights, and slowly came to life.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel Alberta Canada

The Farirmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel

Hotel guests made their way down to the water’s edge to join us admiring the lake. Soon, tourists began to descend on the shore by the dozens. Our magical few minutes of privacy with the sunrise by the lake had passed.

Not long after, the tourist buses began to arrive, disgorging fifty selfie-stick wielding tourists at a whack. We left the shore and wandered inside the hotel to explore its luxurious and posh interior.

Lake Louise Fairmont Chateau Hotel interior

The elegant lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

This is an elegant hotel with a beautiful dining room that overlooks the lake. What a spot for a meal!

Lake Louise Fairmont Chateau fine dining

Fine dining right on the lake at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Lake Louise is best enjoyed outdoors, though, and there are lots of bright red kayaks for rent at the boat dock. One by one, kayakers paddled out onto the lake.

Kayak on Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Kayaking on the lake

We followed the shoreline trail for a ways, with one eye on the path in front of us and the other peering between the trees at the shockingly bright turquoise water.

Lake Louise Pine Trees Banff National Park Canada

Vivid turquoise water on Lake Louise

Turquoise Lake Louise Banff National Park

Is it real?!

Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Have a seat and soak in the beauty of this place!

Dandelions were in full bloom and filled a hillside. Whoever thought dandelions could add so much to a scene?!

Lake Louise Dandelions and jade water Banff National Park

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Lake Louise was first explored by Swiss mountaineers, and it soon became a tourist destination. Two tea houses were built up in the hills as destinations for hikers where they could get a yummy bite to eat and have a place to hike to besides just “the top.”

We took the trail that heads to the Lake Agnes Tea House, and it climbed steadily for quite a ways.

Lake Agnes Tea House Trail Banff National Park Canada

The mountain views intensified on the hiking trail to the Lake Agnes Tea House

The mountain peaks were breathtaking — and the trail got us huffing and puffing and out of breath too!

Canadian Rockies Lake Agnes Tea House Hike Banff National Park

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Eventually, we came to a small lake. Mark climbed up on a pair of stumps for a better view.

Stump man Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

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Some other hikers came along behind us and got our pic leaning against these stumps. Even though it was the off-season and it was a cold, gray day, there were a lot of hikers on the trail. I can only imagine how busy this trail must be on a gorgeous, sunny day in July!

Selfie Lake Agnes Banff National Park Canada

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Just a little further on we came to Lake Agnes. There was still a lot of ice on the water, but the edges near the trail on the shore were crystal clear.

Lake Agnes Banff National Park Canada

Lake Agnes was still partially covered in ice.

Apparently, the Lake Agnes Tea House is extremely popular when it opens in the summertime. The workers who staff it stay there during the work week and hike down to the Lake Louise village on their days off (or do more adventurous hikes into the mountains starting from the Lake Agnes Tea House).

Ice on Lake Agnes Banff National Park Canada

Thin veils of ice cover the rich aqua hues of Lake Agnes

Many of the goods for the restaurant are brought up by horses and wagons on a different trail, but a lot of the provisioning is done by workers who hike up and down this steep trail carrying heavy loads alongside the tourists.

Lake Agnes Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Lake Agnes

Happy Hikers Lake Agnes Tea House Trail Banff National Park Canada

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The wildlife stays on the mountain year round, of course, and a chipmunk came over to see if we’d carried up a snack for him.

Chipmunk at Lake Louise Alberta Canada

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The Lake Agnes Tea House wasn’t going to open for another two weeks when we were there, but the hike was still really enjoyable.

Lake Agnes Tea House at Lake Louise Alberta Canada

The Lake Agnes Tea House – Not open quite yet. Darn!

A cup of hot tea at the Tea House would have been very welcome. After we’d been up there tip-toeing around the ice and snow and taking photos for a while, I was chilled to the bone. And then it began to drizzle!

Freezing cold at Lake Agnes Banff National Park

A hot tea would be nice right about now!

We’ve heard the baked goodies that come out of the Lake Agnes Tea House kitchen are very tasty. But we made do with our water bottles and protein bars in our packs. Sigh.

The amazing thing about Lake Louise is that after you look at it for a while, you get used to the stunningly vivid turquoise color. But each time you look away and then look back again, your jaw drops. And so it happened as we hiked back down to the lake.

Lake Louise Glimpse Banff National Park Canada

Lake Louise jumps out at us through the trees.

Lake Louise Rain Banff National Park Canada

The jade hues glowed as rain flattened the water.

The trees opened up as we neared the lake and the incredible color was right there in front of us once again.

Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

The vivid colors of Lake Louise are stunning.

We returned to the shoreline of Lake Louise at dawn and at dusk several times and saw the lake in both sunshine and rain. Each time the beauty of the whole area caught us off guard.

Lake Louise Reflections Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Dawn at Lake Louise is a special time, and we enjoyed taking photos down at the shore
(see Mark down there with his tripod?!).

It didn’t matter if we were sharing the lake with two hundred other awe-struck tourists or with just two or three other photographers who were as determined as we were to capture its beauty on camera, this place was incredible.

Lake Louise Dusk Banff National Park Alberta Canada

What a place!

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Lake Louise RV & Camping Info

For RVers heading to Lake Louise, there is a National Park campground next to the village that is fairly big rig friendly and has electric and water hookups as well as slightly lower pricing for dry camping in those same sites if you choose not to plug in.

Most of the campsites are surrounded by trees, so RVs with solar power may not get much sunshine. The campsites are all double-wide with two rigs sharing a single pull-through, coming from opposite directions, with power pedestals on the outsides (it can be a tight squeeze between neighbors).

During the off-season, payment is made at a self-pay kiosk at the entrance (American credit cards accepted, just write the number on the envelope), however during high season the entrance booth is manned.

For the few weeks in mid to late May that we were there, the campground was less than half full every weeknight, and almost every RV had a double-wide site to itself. On the weekends it was busier. May Long Weekend (Victoria Day), the weekend before America’s Memorial Day, it promised to be packed with visitors from nearby Calgary, but cold rain kept them away this year.

Virtually all of the RVs we saw were rental units. Later in the season, reservations are a must, and the campground is full every night. Once the kids are out of school in late June, the RV fleet becomes a mix of personally owned family RVs and rental units.

There is a dump station that is the biggest RV dump station we have ever seen anywhere, with six stations lined up side by side!

RV dump station Lake Louise Campground Alberta Canada

Six RVs were using the dump station at once when we were there, and one was in line waiting…in the off-season!!

Lake Louise Village is essentially a strip mall with a handful of boutique tourist shops. There is a grocery store that caters to the young, hip, hiking crowd, offering all the fancy gourmet goodies you might long for at prices that are significantly north of their normally high costs. So, for the budget conscious, get provisioned up before you arrive.

May weather is very unpredictable. During our stay we saw highs ranging from the high 40’s (Fahrenheit) to the low 80’s and lows as low as the low 20’s. We saw sleet, snow, rain, and beautiful bright warm sunshine too.

Lake Louise Village Alberta Canada

Lake Louise Village

Many, if not most, of the hiking trails were closed in the pre-season due to avalanche activity, and some of the roads were closed too. However, the trade-off was that the crowds were manageable and we could always find a place to park and a place to put our tripod for a photo, something we’ve heard can be challenging during the warmer and more popular midsummer months of July and August.

More info and links below and more Canadian Rockies blog posts coming soon!

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Here is some more info about Lake Louise:

Related blog posts about Canada, the Canadian Rockies and Photography:

Tips for RVers traveling to Canada
Links to our blog posts from all of our RV travels in Canada
Photography Tips – Resources that Taught Us to take Great Photos plus the Camera Gear We Use!

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