Banff Journals

From Banff to Jasper

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An October 2000 trip to Banff by Peregrine

Downtown Banff Photo, Banff, Alberta More Photos
Quote: Words are inadequate to describe the beauty of the Canadian Rockies and a week is far too short to see it all from the forested mountain slopes dotted with turquoise lakes, mountain streams, and a chance to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.

From Banff to Jasper

Overview

Quote:
We were between seasons (mid-October) and several of the places we wanted to visit were already closed for the winter even though the snow was limited to the mountain peaks. The highlight of the trip was a chance to drive the Icefield Parkway, which is a spectacular drive from Banff to Jasper. Along the way are side roads to spectacular scenery. We also had a trip up the Athabasca glacier and a hour later, rafted on the glacial waters of the river below. We loved lunch at the Banff Springs Hotel, even if it was a bit touristy and crowded. The gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain offered spectacular views, especially if you walk to the top of the peak. You can see into the valleys on both sides of th...Read More

Radisson Hotel and Conference Center Canmore

Hotel | "Radisson Hotel Canmore"

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Canmore is a few miles south of Banff. During the 1988 Calgary Olympics, this was the site of the Nordic events, now it has become a bedroom community for the area, since new building is allowed within Banff National Park (which includes the town of Banff). As for the Canmore itself, there’s not much to talk about, though I admit we did little but sleep here and go for walks in the early morning before breakfast. The hotel is now and located outside of town in a woodsy, nicely landscaped setting. The room was average, but they could have done with less furniture. As it was, the room seemed overstuffed and crowded, even though there were only two of us in it. The restaurant (Malcolms'...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2001

Radisson Hotel and Conference Center Canmore
511 Bow Valley Trail
Canmore, Alberta T1W1N7
(780) 743-2400

The Fairmont Banff Springs

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Restaurant | "Banff Springs Hotel"

Quote:
One of the jewels of the Rockies and probably one of the most recognizable hotels in Canada. The hotel was built toward the end of the 19th century by William Van Horne of the Canadian Pacific Railroad to house the tourtists he brought up here to enjoy the hot springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain. Built to resemble a baronial Scottish manor, the hotel has been added onto over the years (there are some 800 guest rooms here). We didn’t stay here, but we did have a fabulous lunch in the dining room our second day in town. I don’t remember ever seeing such an elaborate buffet. The tables (plural) covered a large portion of the very large room. Spread before us, it began with bread and soups...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2001

The Fairmont Banff Springs
405 Spray Ave
Banff, Alberta AB T1L 1J4
(403) 762-2211

Crossing Resort

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Restaurant | "The Crossing Resort"

Crossing Resort Photo, Banff, Alberta
Quote:
About halfway between Jasper and Banff is the Saskatchewan River Crossing where packtrains crossed the river on the way to the Columbia Icefield. There is a resort here with accommodations, gas, groceries and a restaurant/gift shop. We stopped for lunch. Since many of the tour buses stop here, the restaurant serves a buffet which is fast, comprehensive, and very good. The selection ranges from salads to a variety of chicken, roasts, fish and all the trimmings. Its not fancy, but it is very good, and very filling. The dining room is filled with windows and the view in all 360 degrees is unobstructed. Two of the mountains you can see from here are over 10,500 feet and snowcapped much of the year....Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 24, 2001

Crossing Resort
Icefield Parkway
Banff, Alberta
(403) 761-7000

Lake Louise Ski Area

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Attraction | "Lake Louise"

Lake Louise Ski Area Photo, Banff, Alberta
Quote:
Chateau Lake Louise, which is only a few minutes from Banff, is another of the famous CP hotels built in the early part of the 20th century. It is set at the edge of what has to be one of the most photographed lakes on earth. The hotel is Italianate and quite elegant – from the outside. Since we weren’t staying or lunching, we couldn’t go in. However, they do invite you to spend money in their gift shop. We opted to stroll around the lake. The lake itself is one of those incredibly turquoise lakes and so clear you can see every pebble and log on the bottom. It is also incredibly cold, since it is fed by the Victoria glacier. In the summer you can take boats out on the lake and th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2001

Lake Louise Ski Area
Junction of TransCanada Highway and Highway 93
Banff National Park, Alberta T0L 0C0
+1 403 522 3555

Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola

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Attraction | "Sulphur Mountain Gondola"

Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola Photo, Banff, Alberta
Quote:
Tucked into our four-person gondola, we floated up over the treetops watching the view spread below us. From the gondola, you can see lakes, rivers, and distant mountain peaks. Once at the top, you have choices. Most people seemed to choose breakfast with their view, and the gift shops were certainly doing a brisk business. We chose to continue on up the mountain, this time on foot via the walkway (or rather the stairway with occasional overlooks). The view from the top is well worth the trek, and is indescribable. Below, in the valley you can see the Bow River, the falls and the surrounding mountains. Dead center in all that beauty is the Banff Springs Hotel. From above, you c...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2001

Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola
Hot Springs Road
Banff, Alberta T0L 0C0
+1 403 762 5438

Rafting on the Athabasca River

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Attraction

Quote:
An hour or so after the trek up the glacier, we were geared up in lifejackets and waterproof macs for a trip down the glacial melt called the Athabasca River. Since it was the end of the season (mid-October, which was unusually late for the raft companies to still be operating), the water was low, the rapids barely class 2, and the rocks numerous. We had a chance to see a few close up, managed to get wet (the guide was kind enough to make sure we ALL got wet) and let me tell you, that water is cold! We spent a quiet hour and a bit drifting down this beautiful river. During the season when the river is up, the trip is a fast, rough ride and at our sedate late-season pace, we had a chance to enjoy t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2001

Rafting on the Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Banff, Alberta

Athabasca Glacier

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Attraction

Athabasca Glacier Photo, Banff, Alberta
Quote:
We hit the most perfect weather on this trip and everywhere we went, especially along the Icefield Parkway. In fact, it was unusual enough to be a topic of conversation. Instead of the cold, windy, overcast weather the glacier usually presents (I didn't realize glaciers made their own weather - and its not usually pretty), we had glorious blue sky, no wind, and temperatures warm enough for us to dump the coats. Before you get on the snocoach, you need to spend some time in the visitor center. They have quite an elaborate 3-D display of the glacier hanging from the ceiling. Among the other things you can read in the interpretive displays is that this is the icefield straddles the Co...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 24, 2001

Athabasca Glacier
Canadian Rockies, Icefields Parkway
Banff, Alberta

Banff

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Story/Tip

Downtown Banff Photo, Banff, Alberta
Quote:
Banff is a tourist town set in the middle of a national park. Despite the crowds of year-round tourists, it looks like a Hollywood set with quaint buildings, tall pines, and a mountain dead center at the end of the main road. Tree-shaded parks dot the area, and as we drove into town we were startled to find a full-grown elk not 20 feet from us, sporting a trophy-hunter’s dream rack of antlers. He looked benign sitting in the middle of a small park, but elk have become a nuisance in Banff, eating gardens and, when frightened or provoked, attacking tourists. The city has established a tagging system, the color of the tags denotes the number of attacks that particular elk has made on humans. The fou...Read More

Icefield Parkway

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Story/Tip

Atop the Big Hill Photo, Banff, Alberta
Quote:
If you have a chance to drive this highway, do it. If you don’t, make the chance. The road curves through the mountain valley between Banff and Jasper. Except for a restaurant/motel about halfway along the 143-mile roadway, the scenery is pristine and uninhabited. The mountains are not as high as they are in the Colorado Rockies, but the valley is lower, giving the impression of immense height. While the lower slopes are covered with lodgepole pines, the peaks above the tree line (about 7000 feet) are as barren as the mountains around the Dead Sea. The road takes its name from the Columbia Icefield nestled in the high mountains. This is the largest ice field outside the Arctic regio...Read More

Jasper

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Jasper is a small, rustic mountain town – you could walk from one end to the other in 20 minutes. The center of town is the train station – we were here to catch the VIA Rail to Toronto – surrounded by shops, restaurants, and hotels. The setting is lovely with mountains all around, and far less touristy than Banff. Since our train wasn’t leaving until noon, we spent a rainy morning walking around. Smallish wooden houses have been prettied up and many of them turned into B&Bs, or along the Connaught Street (the main street), they’ve been turned into shops. The downtown area, across from the train station, is compact, but crowded with interesting shops, which also string along the train tracks. Mo...Read More