Dreaming of taking one of the most scenic road trips, possibly of your lifetime? Imagine yourself seeing lush green majestic mountains and stunning glacier mountain lakes so beautiful you must pinch yourself to believe they are real! Banff was one of my daughters top 5 places to visit on her bucket list. She sent me a photo from her computer screen saver and said
“someday, mom, I want to go here”. I asked her where they were taken and I told her “let’s pack our bags and go!”
The two captivating photos she sent to me were of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. We had 10 days vacation scheduled to see anything in the Pacific Northwest we wanted to with no agenda. We were super excited about nothing being in our way and only pavement between us and nature on our Mother-daughter adventurous road trip!
The entire drive in the Canadian Rockies was breath-taking and in some moments we were brought to tears from all the beauty of pure nature. We truly felt at peace and connected to God’s wondrous creations. The old saying that photos do not do the area justice, is so true. We can’t describe with words or photos how stunning this natural beauty is in Banff National Park.
Gypsy Mama Bear tip: When people often google Banff, Moraine Lake images appear. Banff is a town within Banff National Park. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are located inside Banff National Park. You will definitely want to see both lakes.
Our first stop was to see Lake Louise. It is a beautiful crystal clear, turquoise glacier-fed lake nestled in front of a majestic rugged mountain. Overlooking this beautiful lake is a stately chateau called Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Gypsy Mama Bear tip: Lake Louise is a very heavily trafficked area and parking can be a nightmare. You can take a shuttle over to the lake or just make laps around the parking areas until you get lucky and find an empty spot.
The walk from the parking lot to see the lake is not a long trek but it is SUPER crowded and tons of people are trying to take their Instagram worthy pictures of the lake. With that being said, we still didn’t have trouble getting some great shots. I would highly recommend taking hikes around the lake so you can experience the area more and eliminate some of the crowds.
We took the Fairview lookout trail and it had an amazing view. The hike was only 0.6 mile but it had a steep incline the majority of the way and it was a good workout. It was also a secluded trail, we barely saw anyone else.
The Fairmont hotel has shops and restaurants inside, If you need an afternoon quick pick-me-up fresh-pressed juice or coffee, there was a nice refreshing juice and coffee bar located inside the hotel. Even if you don’t stay in the hotel, it is very beautiful place to see with great views. We did not have reservations to stay here and it was early in the day so we continued on our journey.
Our next stop was Moraine Lake. After struggling to find a parking place at Lake Louise, we had hoped we could walk there, but we soon found out that it was too far and we had to drive. Our cell service wasn’t great so we would recommend that you get a map or do your research while you have WiFi, download, and save directions for later use.
There was a huge line of cars waiting to get to the parking lot to Moraine Lake. The parking lot is fairly small so cars would just have to wait until another car left. There is a big rock pile near the entrance that you could climb and get great photos. It was fairly busy so we chose to walk further down Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail. That was a good choice because it seemed like we were the only ones there and that we had all the views all to ourselves. We passed only a few people and the photo opportunities were spectacular. It’s an easy 1.8 mile out and back hike that not many do so I would 100% recommend. Pack a picnic and enjoy the moment, views, and blessings of beauty that God has given us.
Gypsy Mama Bear tip: Just remember to pack out what you pack in! There are also several other trails around the area that lead up the mountain rating from moderate to difficult.
It’s difficult to describe the beauty of these places without actually being there. It certainly will take your breath away. There are colorful canoes that you can rent but unfortunately they were closed when we got there. We did see several people enjoying the sunshine and canoeing the lake so if that interests you check the canoe rentals hours and reserve ahead.
They have campgrounds and hotels all around the area that require advance reservations. We travel Thelma and Louise style, and car camp if everything is booked. This trip we got lucky and found a last-minute availability at a cute hotel in a super progressive, trendy city called Canmore, right outside the National Park. Hotel stays in Canmore were much cheaper than other cities and the distance from Banff was not far. Check out our affiliate links for great discounts.
Our favorite charming Café and Coffee shop in Canmore was Blondies Café. We had the best yummy Açaí Bowl ever! We sat outside, enjoyed the coffee, breakfast bowl, conversation, and lovely mountain views in the brisk morning mountain air…. Can you imagine heaven on earth!? This was pretty close to what I could imagine. Yes, it’s these little moments and things that count.
Gypsy Mama Bear tip: We took some short drives around Canmore to see the area and we had a black bear sighting!
If you want a bucket list hike that includes, streams, several waterfalls, caves, mountains, and dreamy ink pots then consider adding our last stop and hike, Johnston Canyon, to your bucket list. It’s a trail for all levels of hikers… stroll 1.5 miles (out and back) to an easy hike to the lower falls…keep going if you are up for it… 3.1 mile out and back for the Johnston Canyon Upper Falls adventure.
This hike had fewer people but more of an elevation gain. We were feeling good and went the 7.3 mile out and back to see the dreamy multi-colored ink pots and lovely mountain views. The ink pots are several pools made up of beautiful green/blue natural mineral springs that bubble to the surface.
Gypsy Mama Bear tip: The trails get very busy so I would suggest hiking first thing in the morning. Most people only go to the lower canyon so we went to the upper canyon first. The catwalks to the upper falls take you deep into the canyons that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. There are several viewpoints and great unique photo opportunities on each trail.
Whenever I’m going on an adventure, I always try to pack some snacks. Check out these great protein bars! Only 110 calories, low sugar and 15 grams of protein!
This Canadian adventure exceeded all my expectations! I loved the lush green stunning Canadian Rockies so much that I made a second trip to Canada a couple of months later to explore Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler. Follow Gypsy Mama Bear for this “coming soon wanderlust blog”!
Thank you for following us and don’t forget to find joy in all your journeys! Life is short and meant to be cherished and every moment relished. Follow our blogs and start planning your future bucket list destinations!
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
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