Last weekend we travelled to Calgary (about 2 and half hour drive from Edmonton) for some work and on our way back decided to visit a town called Canmore ( just over an hours drive from Calgary). As soon as we entered town it started snowing lightly and the weather was just perfect – bright and sunny and just partly cloudy. We were surrounded by huge snow-clad mountains all around us and the view was just mesmerizing. So we decided to stay back for a day and stopped to get necessary supplies for the night. Just there I got talking with a lady at the store and was asking her if she knew any good places to stay around town and she suggested a few. She also told us that the information center would be able to guide us better and the next thing you we were right there in their office. By this time it was about 2 pm in the afternoon. The lady at information center told us quite a few places worth a visit in Banff which is just a 20 min drive from Canmore. So that’s when thought it would be best to stay in city of Banff itself so that so that next day we could walk around to places instead of driving. We stay in Banff for one day but it felt like we were there for 3-4 days. Follow along to see our journey, places to visit, places to eat and more. And let me just say that these 24 hours in Banff were one of the best road trips and mini vacay we’ve ever been to.
By the time we reached Banff it was about 3:30 pm and we were starving. Quickly checked into this cozy comfy and a steal for the price at YWCA Banff Hotel. Since it was easter long weekend following day, our options were limited. But this place was just perfect. Walking distance from the main town with all shops and restaurants and located right on the banks of bow river. We grabbed lunch at a southwestern grill cafe called Coyotes. The mediterranean pasta was delicious. After lunch we decided to visit Lake Louise ( 25 mins drive from Banff town). The lake was frozen and we could walk on it. The sun was hiding behind the clouds and creating this diffused lighting in which the scene looked even prettier. Suddenly it started snowing and it felt like everything around was happening in slow motion. This place is so beautiful that it made gasp, literally ( take a look at the slow motion video to see how I felt :)) If this place looked like this towards the end of winter, I can only image how it will look in summer when the snow melts and lake will have blue water surrounded by these huge mountains and fir trees.
On our way back to the town we stopped at Johnston Canyon falls. This is a hiking track of 3 miles in the mountains. We had no energy to do the whole trek but we did climb up to see the first of the upper water falls. We also saw the castle mountain and lots of other scenic view stops on our way back to town.
We spent the evening walking around the main town area looking at all the cute shops and restaurants. There is also a museum in the town which is very informative. We decided to retire early that day since we were up from 4 am and had driven down to Calgary from Edmonton. Had dinner at Earl’s Kitchen restaurant and walked back to our hotel.
The next day we were up early and excited to begin exploring Banff national park. Although we did not get to see any wildlife, the views compensated for everything. First we went to visit Banff Upper hot springs. Honestly I was a little disappointed cause I though it would be natural hot springs but it turned out to be a spa and hot water swimming pool. I’m sure it would be fun to visit here when you have planned out vacation. Unfortunately the gondola ride which is just next to this place was also closed for maintenance. Next stop was Cave and Basin historic site which was one of the best things we saw at Banff. This place has natural occurring hot springs and a cave which has been converted into a museum. This place has deposits of hydrogen sulphide and minerals brought by the naturally occurring springs. So don’t freak out with the smell. You may even get this smell al over town or in your hotels but that’s not because its dirty or anything but because of then minerals and sulphur mixed in the water. Some people also consider this as healing water curing various illnesses. This place is also said to be the birthplace of Canadian national parks.
Next stop was Bow Valley falls. Truly beautiful place like torn from a magazine. Since the banks of the river were still frozen you could walk up to the edge and see the falls from closer distance which was super fun. We spent some time there took lots of pictures and then headed to our next destination, Two Jacks lake. This is also a campground. Beautiful location to camp during summer. And just next to this site is another lake called Johnson lake ( this is different from the canyon falls mentioned above). All of these places are just about 10 to 15 mins driving distance from each other. We are definitely planning to go back in summer. There are more activities to do and all the trails and treks are open. You can plan an elaborate vacation of a week to thoroughly enjoy all the activities . But if you are looking for a quick weekend getaway too, this place is not going to disappoint. In fact it’s natural beauty is so amazing that you leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. If we could see so much in just 24 hours that too without rushing, I’m sure a week here will be so much fun. Will definitely go back in summer.