Canada Trip Rewinds

Trip Rewind Canada 2009: Banff National Park Alberta

Banff National Park
Looking out over the Bow Valley from Sulphur Mountain

We arrived to Banff National Park mid-day and checked ourselves in at the Tunnel Mountain Campground. Here we were given the same ‘bears were going to eat us’ lecture that we had received at Lake Louise.  The warning came because we were sleeping in the back of the truck under a canopy in the camper section of the campground.  Like Lake Louise we should have camped in the tenting section so we would be surrounded by the electric fence.  This campground however had actually seen a black bear on the grounds earlier that week. Eh – I’m from Idaho. I can deal with a black bear or two. Maybe not a grizzly however!

Banff National Park
Banff Gondola

The next morning we headed over to Banff Gondola where we were taken 7500 feet (2285 meters) to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. The views were spectacular, even with a slight haze from far off fires…

Banff National Park
Looking back at the visitors center at Banff Gondola

After we reached the top Drama Papa and I wondered aimlessly around the gift shop. I spotted a lookout tower with a boardwalk trail leading to it and mentioned to Drama Papa that we should check it out. As you can guess he did not want to go. So like I did at Mount Edith Cavell I left him in a trail of dust and headed out to the lookout.

Banff National Park
Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station

Along the short walk I learned through interpretive signs that the lookout was actually a weather station built in 1903 and sat atop Sanson Peak. I looked out over Bow Valley where I was given a stunning view of the valley floor, surrounding mountains and the town of Banff.

Banff National Park
Looking out from atop Sulphur Mountain

We took the gondola back down the mountain and drove over to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. It may be a hotel but is also a tourist attraction. Unfortunately we could not afford to stay here at just over $400 USD a night. And you are probably thinking why would I want to give up my air mattress and sleeping bag for a night in luxury anyways?

Banff National Park
Fairmont Banff Springs

Drop by the hotel for a self-guided tour of the inside – which I highly recommend. The chateau inspired hotel was originally built in 1888. In 1926 the hotel burned down and was rebuilt larger and grander than before. The 1926 building is what you see today, although several additions and renovations have been added over the years. It is a massive hotel, that at one point had 848 rooms.  During the 1997 renovation the rooms were brought down to just over 700.  I assume because 700 rooms seems more reasonable, right?

Banff National Park
Bow Falls near Fairmont Banff Springs

After we completed our tour of the hotel we headed down to Bow Falls, located just below the hotel. It was a low and wide falls, but I am never one to miss out on some falls. Our trip to Canada had finally come to an end with our visit to Banff. Although I had spent many days submerged in lush scenery I still left with a bitter feeling about the trip, due to my crank pants travel companion. This is why I have decided to return with the best travel companion one could ever ask for, Boomer. He’s always up for adventure and I have already found several things for him to enjoy while we take this adventure together. Unfortunately he will not be able to come along with me on the Ice Explorer at the Icefields Parkway – but what I have found for us to do together should make up for him missing out on that! It will also be Boomer’s first visit to Canada, which I am sure he is equally excited about! I mean who doesn’t like Canada, eh!?!??!

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