In the weeks before arriving in Banff, I read several travel guides, travel blogs, and watch informative and entertaining videos on YouTube. 

    Before I travel anywhere, I do a lot of homework to familiarize myself with the destination. I believe it enhances a trip because it provides a roadmap, so to speak, of places I want to see on my adventure. 
    For those who might be unfamiliar with Banff National Park, it is Canada’s oldest national park, created in 1885 as Rocky Mountains Park. It is in Alberta, a western province, and about 80 miles from Calgary.
Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Gondola on Sulphur Mountain

    After dinner with travel companions and getting a good night’s sleep, our first stop was the gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. It takes eight minutes to travel the 2,300-foot to the summit, a smooth lift that is a peaceful hum as you take in a panorama of the Canadian Rockies. For those who have the time and energy, it takes two to three hours to hike to the top. I had neither the time nor the stamina to undertake that physical challenge.

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Boardwalk leading to weather station

    Once atop Sulphur Mountain, at 8,041 feet (give or take a few hundred feet) it rewards you with magnificent views of Bow Valley. There are boardwalks that take you to different vantage points, including Sanson’s Peak, a historic site where Norman Sanson (1862-1949) traveled by foot once a week for nearly 30 years to record weather data. There is also a visitors’ center with two restaurants, gift shops, restrooms and viewing balconies. 

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Lake Louise

   The next stop was Lake Louise, one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world, with its glimmering turquoise at an elevation of 5,200 feet carved out of the surrounding mountains. It’s not a large lake. I hiked from one end to the other, about 1.5 miles. On the chilly lake were canoers, paddle boaters. and surfboarders. I even stopped and took a photo of a young couple braving the frigid waters (less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit in August, so not suitable for swimming). 

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Athabasca Glacier

  The last full day in Banff included a drive on the scenic Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park, where we went to the Athabasca Glacier, the most visited glacier in North America. It has been receding about 16 feet a year, so it’s gradually melting away (but not in my lifetime). We also stopped at the emerald-colored Peyto and Bow lakes for those Kodak moments and to soak in the scenery. The Canadians impressed me with their apparent concern for the environment and providing a protective and natural habitat for wildlife. 


Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Street view of Banff

  As for the town of Banff, it is touristy, as expected, with lots of souvenir shops, restaurants, and motels. But it was clean and inviting. I don’t recall seeing any graffiti on walls or buildings. 

    Banff National Park is a place I’d like to visit again. It’s a paradise for those who love the outdoors, from hiking to skiing to bicycling. I was told they really dressed the area up for Christmas. It’s certainly a destination for all seasons.
    Until the next time . . .
Michael Embry Author, Blogger

Michael Embry is a multi-genre author of 15 books.

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