Have you ever been on a trip that absolutely blows your mind out of this world? I hadn’t until me and one of my closest friends jetted off to Alberta, Canada with nothing more than a rough outline of what we wanted to see and a couple of booked sites. In the end things didn’t end up entirely as planned and we ended up camping out in our car for 3/4 of the nights. I know that is so not ideal for everyone, but I can attest that not being tied down to any one location made our trip exceedingly more special. It gave us the chance to spend time with local friends we met without ever having to worry about our destination for the night. I always knew how important your travel companions are, but I never processed just how important the people you meet along the way is as well. I could ramble for a novels worth about how intensely kind and giving the people we met were, but I’ll just say that the timing on everything was impeccable and I wouldn’t change any wrong turn or delay because it inevitably led to the greatest trip of my life. No exaggeration in the slightest. This trip changed my life. From sneaking into a hotel pool with one local to finding another local who took us on a glacier hike- here are some pictures to show it. For all you nature lovers, this one’s for ya. I went in order of the occurring events, but my favorite photos are at the bottom.
To start off our trip, we chose a trail that was a recurring item on every guide’s list. This was an easy trail that took about an hour and a half. This is a really pretty trail but I would try and head there earlier in the day because the crowds get crazy and touristy hikes just don’t do it for me. That’s probably just me, because I like tranquility when I’m out in nature.
This is hands down the prettiest water I’ve ever seen. I know that Lake Louise is at the top of everyone’s list when they go to Banff, but I put this lake above it. Lake Louise was annoyingly crowded and the water at Moraine looked exactly like the first photo above (the second looks darker because of the weird shadowing going on). If you still want to see Lake Louise, just stop by for some pictures but then come here for a canoe ride and the hikes that fork off only a a few yards away from the shore. After all, they’re about a 15 minute drive from one another.
Larch Valley Trail
This hike was so gorgeous. I’m going to warn that it was a pretty moderately difficult hike filled mostly with switchbacks the whole way up. And if you’re not used to the high altitude, you’ll find yourself fighting yourself to breathe as we were. The head of the hike stems from Morraine Lake, so there’s no excuse not to make your way out here. The hike is about four hours roundtrip.
The trail we took here started from Parker Ridge trail (shown below) and then after that we cut through the thick trees lining the mountainside. This was the most intense hike I’ve ever done and most rewarding. I mean- we hiked to a glacier! This isn’t for the light hearted. This trip took us eight hours. Buut, there is also Athabasca Glacier which is made much more accessible by its professional tours.
Parker Ridge Trail
This was a moderately easy hike with the roundtrip equaling about an hour and a half total. The view at the top was definitely worth it, and it was a less congested trail than the others that we did. Which, I definitely appreciate. At the end of this trail you’ll spot Saskatchawen Glacier and its pretty lil’ lake attached to it. So perfect.
The cutest little town I ever did see. And this backdrop? Yes please. Once again, if you’re up earlier in the day you can see the town in a way you can’t when the crowd starts to rush in. Basically, waking up early is a real good thing in these places. This is in the core of Banff National Park. They have some really cute shops to check out, and if you want to check out a super Canadian dessert, try out a Beaver Tail (Oreo one is YUM).
Additional Noteworthy Spots:
Bow Valley Parkway