Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Banff Top 10


1. Fairmont & Surprise Corner
 
Whether you stay at a Fairmont or not, if you are in the Banff area you will undoubtedly come across one of these beautiful castles hotels. The first being the Fairmont Banff Springs or the "Castle in the Rockies" and the second is Chateau Lake Louise. There are a few viewpoints to see the Banff Fairmont with its beautiful mountainside backdrop, my favourite being Surprise Corner! Surprise Corner is not far from the main downtown area of Banff. It has a parking lot and a lookout area.
 
*The hotel is also great to go inside and explore. We also stayed overnight which I will discuss more in a later post.

 
2. Lake Minnewanka

Very close to the Banff town area is Lake Minnewanka. The road creates a complete loop where there are lots of places to take pictures and get out to explore. Parts of this loop are known for wildlife spotting. During certain times of the year they also do Boat Cruises and canoe rentals.


3. Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway runs parallel to the main highway towards Lake Louise. It is considered the scenic route as you must go at slower speeds due to the amount of wildlife in the area. They do close this road during the evening to early morning to allow for the wildlife to pass through the area. Therefore your best chances are when it first opens or right before it closes. Besides the wildlife there are many beautiful viewpoints along the way. It is also the road you take to get to my next top 10 thing to do...


4.  Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon Hiking Trail is found along the Bow Valley Parkway. It is an extremely popular hiking trail but it lives up to the hype. The trail follows a beautiful river with two main waterfalls to finish each path. Neither waterfall was very impressive but they are still pretty nonetheless, but the trail itself is what I found to be the reward of the hike. Bring lots of water and enjoy!


5. Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is located in the Banff town area. I had first heard of the area for wildlife spotting but what I have come to love it for is the breathtaking views with the mountain reflections. It is a narrow inconspicuous road to drive down but it is worth the exploration. I recommend going in the early evening to get the best light and reflections!




6. Upper Hot Springs

I feel the need to preface this being in my top 10, with saying that it is not the best hot spring I have ever been to, however I still really enjoyed my time here. It is the highest elevation of a Hot Springs in Canada, located in the Rocky Mountains and the water is 100% natural mineral water! We came here to relax after our hike of Johnston Canyon and it did the job!


7. Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is a must-do on any Banff goers list. My favourite part was the "hike" up Sulphur Mountain. The pathway on the way to the top of  Sulphur Mountain had breathtaking 360-degree views! Did I mention there is a Starbucks in the lobby where you can have order your coffee at the highest elevation in Canada (see a theme here?).


8. Moraine Lake

Our visit to Moraine Lake was in the beginning of June so the lake was just beginning to melt. Although we really missed seeing it in its full beauty, its frozen form is honestly still stunning as well. Moraine Lake is the lesser known of the two lakes but I can imagine in the summer it would be just as stunning as Lake Louise and possibly a bit less busy so I wouldn't miss it!


9. Lake Louise

I'm sure by now you have guessed that this would be on my list! Lake Louise is the most picturesque and famous lake in Canada! Once again I didn't visit it in its full glory but luckily it was a bit more melted than Moraine. It was truly beautiful and if it isn't on your bucketlist it should be!!


10. Columbia Icefield

Technically I'm cheating as the Columbia Icefield is not Banff but if you have found yourself in Banff then I can not recommend enough the drive up to the Icefields. They are halfway to Jasper, we were able to drive there, do the tours and drive back in the same day with enough time to still do other exploring in Banff. This was a highlight of the entire trip for me. Not only being on the Icefield itself but also the drive up the Icefields Parkway is just crazy beautiful and full of wildlife!

Icefields Parkway

The Glacier Adventure
 
Glacier Skywalk

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Canmore & Banff


After our time in Drumheller we headed towards Canmore & Banff (our main destination for the first portion of our Canada Road trip). The drive from Drumheller to Canmore is breathtakingly beautiful and you can’t help but want to pull over every 10 minutes to take pictures. We filmed parts of the journey on our GoPro so now I can relive it over and over.


I had planned for us to stay one night in Canmore before our multi-night stay in Banff as I thought it would give us the opportunity to explore another town. Although now on retrospect I would have just stopped in Canmore for a visit and still stayed in Banff as there was just more to see and do. Nonetheless I enjoyed my visit to Canmore, so here are a few pictures from our time there.

 
After we checked in to our hotel in Canmore and explored the downtown area we headed out to an area of Banff National Park called Lake Minnewanka. The road creates a complete loop and there are lots of places for pit stops to take pictures and other parts you may wish to park and get out to explore. Parts of this loop are known for wildlife spotting. After the loop we headed back to Canmore for the night!
 

MORE BANFF POSTS COMING SOON!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Drumheller Alberta: Dinosaur Paradise!




The first stop on our 10 day West Coast, Canada Vacation: Drumheller Alberta.



Day 1

Our day started with a flight from Toronto into Calgary, picking up our rental car and starting our journey to Drumheller. Once we got there it began chucking it down with rain, in fact the town was under a weather watch for extremely high winds and hail. We sorta managed to avoid the worst of it, but we did get the rain. So what is there to do in Drumheller in the rain? Only the best dinosaur museum ever! This is a must do if you are in the area.


Day 2

First up we headed out to find a little white church, and I mean tiny!


Then we headed to one of my favourite view-points called Horsethief Canyon. It is an area well documented for finding dinosaur fossils (including an alligator from 72 million years ago).


After visiting a location where there is the possibility of finding real dinosaur fossils, our next stop was visiting the World's Largest Dinosaur.... Statue. You can also pay to climb to the top and look out the Dino's mouth!


Drumheller is also home to numerous small dinosaur statues. We found it a fun challenge to try and find as many as we could!


Next we headed to the Hoodoos. The interesting rock formations are formed by erosion. I had visited similar rock formations in Turkey so I was excited to see how our Canadian version compared. The area is smaller than I imagined but it is really beautiful and unique.

*** Wear hiking shoes if you plan on exploring the area. Otherwise you can still take photos and walk on some platforms but you wont want to do much else as it is extremely slippery.

 

After the Hoodoos we left Drumheller and headed towards Banff. Our stop for the night was in Canmore!
 
More blog posts coming soon!


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Spring Packing List for Banff / Icefields


*All items above are featured in my Polyvore!

When I was getting ready for my trip to the West Coast of Canada (one of the first stops being in Banff, Alberta) I was quite puzzled on what to pack. I looked up average temperatures in May, but it made it even more difficult. It gave warm highs and chilly lows and also included the possibility of snow. As a Canadian I know all to well the way weather can go from snow to sunny in a difference of  a few minutes. So I decided to pack for all weather just to be safe. So here is a list of what I brought and what I actually wore!

Coats:  Rain Coat  and Denim Coat

🗹 Windproof/Waterproof Coat: It was my most worn article of clothing on the entire trip. It was great for a variety of weather conditions as it is quite lightweight but also easy to layer to add warmth.

Denim coat: Didn't get too much wear out of it. Save the space.


Tops:  Peace Collective and Roots are two of my Fav shops for Canadian clothing!

☑ Sweatshirts: Bring a few especially a warm fleece one for the Icefields!

☑ Tops: Bring a few lightweight long sleeve and short sleeve tops for layering with jacket & sweatshirts.

⌧☑ Tank Tops: Only really needed for hiking or a photo-op  otherwise skip.


Bottoms:

☑ Leggings: fleece lined pair (great for Icefields), athletic Leggings

☑ Hiking pants: I used Lululemon Studio Pants as hiking pants, which worked out great. But any loose, lightweight, quick dry pants would work!

Jeans: Only wore to dinner, could have skipped.


Footwear: 

☑ Hiking Shoes: Keen Hiking Shoes  Hiking shoes are essential for hiking obviously but even for non-hiking related events such as the Icefields you need shoes with good grip.

☑ Booties: Ugg Boots  I liked having a second footwear option to wear to dinners or elsewhere. Your second pair of shoes could be anything I just chose booties!

☑⌧ Sandals: Birkenstocks I liked having sandals for car rides, hotel breakfasts and quick outings! But for the time of year they really aren't needed.


Accessories:

☑ Socks:  I brought two different types of socks
- for my hiking shoes I used Wright Socks. They have a double layer and say they are blister proof.
- for my booties I used Roots Cabin Socks.

☑ Backpack: Fjallraven backpack is a great backpack but any backpack will do! This is really only needed for hiking so that you can carry water and other equipment like cameras.

☑ Purse: I used a Kate Spade Crossbody Purse will a zipper closure. I find the zipper the most important part of a purse for traveling but also one that will fit my camera and other essentials.

Hat / Gloves: I didn't need mine but if you enjoy wearing them or aren't use to chilly/mild temperatures then there's no harm in bringing them.

☑ Swimsuit: The hot springs in the Banff area are a must do. They really do work wonders on relaxing your muscles after a day of hiking.

☑ Camera(s):  I used 3; my IPhone, Canon Camera & GoPro

My Canon PowerShot SX730 is a great purse/pocket sized camera with 40x Optical Zoom and 20.3 Megapixels.

The GoPro Car Mount is one of my favourite additions to this trip. I have previously used a GoPro but always for its under water capability. I bought the car mount for this trip and love looking back at the videos of driving through the mountains!