Hiking and Camping in Banff, Canada July 15-23, 2016Posted by Adventure 16 | 09.01.2016
by Laurel Grinnell-Wilson, A16 buyer
This July, my husband and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary in beautiful Banff National Park, Canada. This trip also doubled as our "baby-moon" (aka: our last big vacation before our first baby arrives in the Fall), which, coincidentally was the same place my husband's parents went for their baby-moon when his mom was pregnant with him! (We didn't know this going into it, so that was a fun surprise!).
Typically Brook and I are very active and enjoy multiday backpacking trips, long day hikes, rock climbing, etc., but for this trip I wasn't sure how much energy I'd have (or even if I could handle sleeping on the ground!). We ended up planning a trip that was a perfect mix of urban and outdoor and had a wonderful summer experience in Banff Nat'l Park.
First off, let me just say that Banff is much like Yosemite in the sense that it is very crowded because it is so easy to access by car. You can walk minimally and still see some of the key sights. But also like Yosemite, you don't have to go very far off the beaten track to escape the buzzing of tourists and witness some of the most stunning views quietly and privately.
Some of our favorite activities in the park were taking the Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain in the town of Banff to see the spectacular panoramic views of the Bow River Valley, camping at Lake Louise and Two Jack Lake (lake side camping at it's finest!), visiting the Columbia Icefields (glacier!) and a handful of beautiful hikes around Bow River Valley. My favorite hike was from Lake Louise up the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail to the lovely tea house. Here they have light snacks (including chocolate cake!) that they cook all by gas stove (no electricity on the mountain top) and all the supplies are helicoptered or trekked in.
Because the town of Banff is not owned by the park (like Yosemite), the food choices are very nice! There is fair for everyone and I can't think of a single place we ate in which we were disappointed. Food can be pretty pricey though as they know they've got you there! So be prepared for that.
Overall, I knew this trip would be a bucket list item and I'm so glad we had an opportunity to visit! We definitely want to go back and get some backpacking in because there are SO MANY back country hiking opportunities out there with views to die for.