My brother-in-law and his wife just recently complete a trip to the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise, Banff and Glacier National Park. I’ve asked my sister-in-law to be a guest blogger describing their experience this month on their trip. This is the first post and is about the Canadian Rockies. Hope you enjoy this series
First of all we used a couple of tour books to find what might be interesting in any given area as well as checking in with the area’s parks’ information centers. The two books we used were “Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks” by Lonely Planet and “Frommer’s Banff & the Canadian Rockies Day by Day”. My second piece of advice is be sure you have a good pair of hiking boots and poles are helpful to, even for some of the easier trails. Most trails have at least some steep areas. Third, bring a rain suit. We had rain off and on almost everyday. It might start out cloudy and then clear up and then the clouds very often came back in later in the afternoon and we had rain. The rain clouds could come up pretty quickly so if you are on a trail a rain suit is invaluable. Also consider bear spray. Especially if it is during an active bear season — several places sell it and some hotels rent it. Since bushes all seem to have berries, the bears were quite active as they began gorging for their hibernation.
We flew into Calgery, Alberta, Canada because we were using American miles and they do not fly anywhere into Montana. That was surprising to me. We rented a car online from National Car Rental and joined their Emerald Club prior to renting. We got a better rental rate and bypassed the rental counter and went directly to pick up our car and we could choose whatever car in the row we wanted. By the time we got there and the time of day there was a very limited selection, but at least they did have a car. I had heard that some Canadian car rental companies will not let you take their cars into the US, so I checked that out first and was told by National that was not a problem. We also made sure we had unlimited mileage because we were planning on covering a lot of miles. We got in the car and immediately left Calgary.
We drove to Waterton Lakes NP. On the way, on Highway 2, we saw a sign for Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump, World Heritage Site. We thought why not stop, we’re not really in a hurry — the day was pretty wasted already. We were quite surprised at the extensive interpretative center and displays. We got there at 5:15 PM and it closed at 6 PM, so didn’t have much time to spend there. We could have spent a lot more time there and it was well worth a side trip. If you want more info about this area, click here. They have a very extensive web site with hours and admission charges.
We then continued on to Waterton Lakes to our hotel, Bayshore Inn. It was a nice place right in the middle of a cute town, right on the lake. They were supposed to have wi fi, but it worked only sporadically. Early the next morning we saw deer in the front yard of the restaurant, right up on the patio, eating the flowers. Before breakfast we hiked Bear Hump, about 1.5 miles, but at a good incline. It took a good hour and half to go up and down. A pretty spectacular view from the top. After breakfast we did a pretty easy hike to Cameron Falls, which was a very nice walk with nice falls.
In the afternoon we went to Red Rock Canyon and took the shuttle there as they said there was limited parking. We hiked to Blakiston Falls — easy hike, nice scenery. There were bear warnings everywhere. The bears were very active because the berries were ripe along the trails. We were pretty nervous on the Bear Hump hike because it was not frequently traveled, but The Cameron Falls and Red Rock Canyon, Blakiston Falls were busy trails, so we didn’t worry there.
On the shuttle back to town we did see a momma bear and 2 cubs near the road. We hiked over to the Prince of Wales Hotel for what we thought would be a late lunch, but they were serving tea, which might have been fun, but decided we’d go back to town. Prince of Wales Hotel is the premiere hotel in Waterton Lakes. We spent 2 nights at Waterton Lakes, but the first day was spent traveling there, so really only had one full day, which we felt was probably enough. The restaurants at the hotel were quite good as well as the restaurant across the street.
Coming Next Week: Glacier