Best of Banff and Lake Louise

Best of Banff and Lake Louise

I’ve seen gorgeous images of this part of the world for most of my adult life. My parents took a summer trip there and came home with spectacular photos of pristine lakes, majestic mountains, and the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Little did I realize that this special part of the world is just a 2 hour flight from Denver, Colorado. We flew into Calgary, picked up an SUV and set the GPS for Banff. We passed the old Olympic ski jump which reminded me that Calgary had hosted the Olympics in 1988. The drive was on a wide, well maintained highway and in a little over an hour we were in Banff. The town of Banff is filled with shops, restaurants and fabulous hotels and is surrounded by one impressive peak after another. My first big realization is that Banff and Lake Louise are not one and the same. Of course I knew they were different, I just didn’t realize they weren’t side by side, but are 50 minutes apart by highway. The drive to Lake Louise is through the Banff National Park and you pass by the ski area of Sunshine Village and alongside meandering rivers leading up to impressive mountain peaks. Luckily the highway was wide enough that I was able to pull over when I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take photos of these magnificent peaks. It was almost a religious experience with  these grandfather peaks standing tall and proud seemed like they were protecting us in their shadows.

Best of Banff and Lake Louise

We drove up to the famous Chateau, the Fairmont Lake Louise. It was everything the website promised and more.  The Grand Dame of Lake Louise stood watch over the lake and surrounding glaciers and ice waterfalls. The lake itself is iced over and you can walk, cross country ski, and sleigh ride on and around the lake. The time had just changed and it was light till almost 8pm. We settled into our room with wonderful lake views and I made my way to the rental shop and grabbed a pair of cross country skis and set off on a sunset tour. Here is one of the biggest reasons to visit this area in winter, even if you are not a skier. It was spring break and I was one of about 4 people out on the lake. The clouds circled in and around us, the temperature was mild, and I had to hold myself back from singing Oh Canada at the impressive surroundings.  I headed back in time to change and make my way to dinner at the Walliser Stube, a European Alpine Cuisine restaurant serving everything from schnitzel to fondue. I gorged myself as I felt like I’d earned it on my cross country ski around the lake and finished with a Pear Williams and some strudel.

Best of Banff and Lake Louise

 

The next day we set off to check out the slopes at Lake Louise. Every December I watch the men and women race World Cup there and wonder how they can fly down the hill in Lycra at sub-zero temps with crazy wind chill. Our experience was nothing like this. The conditions were spring like and the air was warm; there was plenty of corn to ski both on and off the groomed trails. Just as when driving from Banff to Lake Louise, I had to “pull over” multiple times to shoot photo after photo. Let me come clean, I live in Aspen, CO and it is not exactly chopped liver here, in fact, I think it is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, but as I shot my 999th image, I realized I might need a self-help group to get me to stop shooting photos of mountains. We ended the day back at the Fairmont in the Lakeview Lounge with an Indian Curry and a crisp white wine from the Okanogan and watched the light dim as it grew dark.

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