We drove and hiked and rowed and oooooo’d and ahhhhhhh’d at all that beauty.
But we were up for the task of fitting it all in!
…and a little wildlife thrown in there too.
Check out that water in the picture above…can you tell how clear it is even from way up high?
Then we drove back to town to get some lunch.
This was just your average pull-off from the road:
Downtown BANFF is something in between a Park City and a Swiss Village feel. My Swiss sis-in-law may not agree with the Swiss thing, but something about those gorgeous granite mountains peeking through at every turn:
…and flowers spilling out of window flower boxes:
…made me reminisce about the beauty of Switzerland.
I loved that little town of Banff!
My girl who spent her internship a couple years ago in London was sure excited to see all this British candy in the little shop we stopped in to get some snacks for our hike:
Especially those Maltesers.
We paid a quick visit to Two Jacks Lake and LAKE MINNEWANKA:
…which were both stunning and gorgeously blue but in my hindsight opinion didn’t hold a candle to what we were going to see the next day.
I should pause right here and say that pictures will never do this place justice. Period.
But I sure loved trying.
And I loved soaking it up with these people right here:
And I’m really sorry, but I could not stop taking pictures of all that beauty.
We came back to the observation deck and hung with that hunky Dave for a while and ate dinner.
Then we sat in these red chairs and watched in awe as the sun sunk below the mountains in the perfect golden light.
Our hotel had a mineral hot tub and sauna and we soaked in them for a little before trying to get some sleep so we could get up with the sun the next morning.
We got up before sunrise the next morning so we could try to beat the tourist crowds at the amazing Banff lakes.
And as a side-note, I should explain right here why this water in Banff is so incredibly blue: It’s because there are so many glaciers here, and as they move and melt, making their way into the lakes below, they grind on the granite mountains producing a fine dust. That “rock dust” stays suspended in the water because it’s so light and fine, and it reflects the sun making such striking blues as I’ve never seen before.
I love these bridge things that cross the freeways every so often. I couldn’t figure out why they were there at first, because there is no road on top of them and then Dave figured out they are for all the wildlife to cross and roam as free as they can with a big freeway running through their land.
I liked how they made a beautiful frame around the scenery as you passed through:
Our first stop was LAKE LOUISE, probably the most famous and most photographed spot in Banff.
It did not disappoint us with that crystal blue water and glacier backdrop.
We took the hike up to another couple lakes from there…
…first to MIRROR LAKE:
…which, I must say, is a pretty good name for that lake. Just check out that reflection!
These guys look bored but they are more in awe I think 🙂
See that big rounded mountain below? That’s called the “beehive” and we didn’t do that hike. Not enough time in the day! (nor enough leg muscle or non-wimpiness)
We just finished our hike up these stairs:
To be greeted by LAKE AGNES at the top:
…which was really quite a mirror herself, and adorned with this little TEA HOUSE (below) that is really quite a tourist trap in my opinion.
We checked it out for a bit, but headed down quick because we wanted to do some canoeing as well.
By the time we reached Lake Louise again it looked like this:
Yeah, it’s tourist season in Banff, that’s for sure!
So we took a canoe out on the lake to beat the crowds and check out that bluer-that-blue water more up close and personal.
From there our plan was to get to Moraine Lake, but it was already closed off to tourists…too full, which turned out perfect for us because we made some other stops and came back later that afternoon.
Just your average road-stop-to-stretch spot in Canada:
(Have I mentioned that we drove…a LOT??)
We headed to PEYTO LAKE next.
There’s a little trail from the parking lot…
…to arrive with five hundred of our closest friends to examine that beauty. HA!
But really, it wasn’t awful because we could spread out and boy howdy, we were greeted with some serious beauty:
Again, pictures cannot do this place justice. It was so cool to see the little tributaries coming down from the glacier that were so blue mixing in with that other blue:
From there we stopped at BOW LAKE (just off of the Bow Valley Parkway where most of these lakes are situated).
(I don’t think I put that jumping picture in with the others back HERE….gotta jump when you see such beauty!)
It was practically deserted compared to the other places we had been so we hung out there a while.
Dave and I did a little yoga to stretch out from all that driving.
Check out that form. Man, we are good! 🙂
By this time, these shoes had hiked mile after mile!
Next we took this trusty shuttle up to SUNRISE VILLAGE ski resort:
…had lunch up there, and then took this little ski lift up the mountain…
…to do a little hike/walk over to check out this view:
Yeah, pictures can’t do any justice at all though…
Castle mountain rising up ahead in the picture below:
We saved the very best for last.
We got out of our car, hiked up this boulder mountain, and came to the most breathtaking view any of us had ever seen:
I know that sounds dramatic, but look at that lake!
There is no filter on that thing.
Then Dave decided we better take a quick dip.
At first Elle and I were not interested in that little plan. Keep in mind this is fresh glacier water. It is COLD! And we didn’t bring swimsuits in tow.
But he did it.
He got out of there speedy quick, but still, he made Elle and I interested enough we figured we better make that plunge too.
I mean, live life right?
(We found out hiking clothes make for great take-a-quick-dip-in-ice-cold-water apparel.)
It was a memory we won’t soon forget.
We brought home a little souvenir for our travel boxes (back HERE) from that place we want to always remember.