Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cross Canada Trip - Day Seven – Banff National Park

Lake Louise
Previous Post: Cross Canada Trip - Day Six – Calgary
National parks in Rockies are amazing in beauty! Just to drive on scenic Icefields Parkway (93) is a fantastic experience. I consider this to be the best part of our trip and our only mistake was to make it as short as 3 days (actually, not even 3 full days).
One a first day, we covered Banff National Park. It takes about 1 hour to drive from Calgary to the Town of Banff. It is a very small town (population of 8721) but has all the essential services (post office, restaurants, groceries, etc). From there, we planned our day based on recommendations in AA Canada KeyGuide and Mountain Guide (free guide with maps and a lot of useful information).

From there, we drove to:

  • Johnstop Canyon (about 25 km from Banff) - Trail and catwalks which take you to a Lower (1.1km) and Upper (2.7km) falls.
  • Lake Louise and Lake Agnes (about 55km from Banff) – Fantastic, if a bit difficult, trail (3.8km) which takes you to a Tea House at Lake Agnes high above Lake Louise. To get there, park at Lake Louise parking area and walk along the lake shore promenade for about 1.2 km. Take the right fork (it is signed) which climbs immediately from the water edge. After 2km, you will reach a tiny plateau where you can pause to admire Mirror Lake (small lake trapped in the mountains and surrounded by rocks and huge trees). Another 1km up will take you to a Tea House at Lake Agnes.
  • Crowfoot Glacier (25km from Lake Louise) – A short hike (10 minutes) from a parking area on the Icefield Parkway for a magnificent view of the Crowfoot glacier. According to the Mountain Guide, it used to have 3 ‘toes’ of ice but since then the lower toe and part of the middle one have melted back.
  • Mistaya Canyon (72km from Lake Louise) – Only 10 minutes walk from the parking area takes you through rounded potholes and natural arches on the canyon walls.
From there, we continued straight to Jasper only stopping at Saskatchewan Crossing (77km from Lake Louise) to refuel and buy some food (we still had those 5kg of sausages), and rest points along the Icefield Parkway to stretch our legs.
You can see all the photos at

Travellers Tips:

  • Entrance to Jasper, Banff, Kootenay and Yoho requires a pass; daily pass cost $9.80 for an adult. Do not forget to take a Mountain Guide which is full with useful maps and a lot of information.
  • Saskatchewan Crossing (77km from Lake Louise) is the last fuel station until Jasper.

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