Whenever we visit the mountains it becomes so clear to me why we do this vacation again and again and again. One of the things I love most about this holiday is that it is never the same - you could take it a thousand times and still manage to do something different each year.
In the town of Banff
This year we started in Banff, spent a day in Golden and travelled up to Jasper. We also spent a day in Calgary at the zoo (pictures will be posted on the Family Album blog shortly).
We stayed at our favourite campground near Banff - Castle Mountain. Castle Mountain is perfect because you're almost exactly half way between Banff and Lake Louise and only a few kilometres from one of our favourite hikes - Johnston Canyon.
Julia and I near the falls at Johnston Canyon - Just over a 6K hike to take in this beautiful scenary
It's also nice and close if you choose to do the drive to the Radium hotsprings which we opted not to do this year (first time in a long time we haven't done this one but we really needed another week of holidays even to just fit some of our favourites in). The campground costs $21.50 per night plus $8 for firewood. The campground is quiet, has a nice creek flowing through it, and a great hike attached to it. On the drive into town the first day we spotted mountain sheep, deer, two bears, and some elk.
The drive from Banff to Jasper is about 230km but it's worth taking about six hours to drive it with all the wonderful stops. Usually we stop at the Columbia icefields but this year we decided to try a couple of different stops - we'll do Columbia icefields again another year when Julia is a bit older.
Between Banff and Jasper
Hunter and Jason at one of the stops we made on the drive between Banff and Jasper
A stop on the way to Jasper
Hunter climbing at another stop between Banff and Jasper
We didn't get away from Banff nearly as early as we had planned so by the time we had taken several stops on the way to Jasper it was quite late. We had planned to stay at a campgound called Wabaso but on the way there we almost drove into a very larger bear so we decided we'd stay somewhere a little closer to town. We ended up staying at Wapiti campggound. It was $28.50 a night but worth the bit extra because it had showers which we would desperately need since we'd no longer be going swimming and showering at the swimming places in Banff.
We didn't have a lot of time at Jasper but we managed to pack a few hikes in: we hiked to the glaciers at Mount Edith Cavell, we went for a very short hike at a Caribou crossing, and checked out Athabasca Falls.
This is at Mount Edith Cavell near the first campground we planned to stay at. It's about a one hour hike to the Glacier and back up.
This was near Mount Edith Cavell but a hike we decided not to complete as there had been a grizzly sighting on the trail four out of the past seven days (we wondered when we saw a couple ahead of us packing bearspray).
Athabasca Falls just outside of Jasper
Athabasca Falls again
Athabasca Falls isn't too far from the campground we had initially planned to stay at and on our way to the Falls we saw another bear. We were really glad we had decided not to stay there.
All in all it was a great holiday - we just wished we had more time. We're hoping to take a nice fall holiday to Banff this year and stay at one of the cabin-type hotels at Tunnel Mountain. Of course it will depend on our schedules and whatnot.