Banff is incredible – been there before, over 50 years ago and again over 40 years ago – it doesn’t disappoint – still a most remarkable place!!
Set up camp at Tunnel Village I campground, amidst huge evergreens; we were in C loop, which I’d recommend, or D loop. This is a great campground because it is very natural and peaceful, yet only 10 minutes from the town of Banff for groceries, restaurants or other entertainment.
Our focus was on hiking, and boy, was it amazing! We learned quickly that you need to be up and out very early to get a parking space at a trailhead. However, we found work-arounds. For example, the Johnston Canyon parking lot and overflow were full, as were the nearby roadsides, but we continued a few kilometers and parked in the near empty Moose Meadows trailhead lot. We took that trail which intersected with the Ink Pots trail (our first destination).
After a picnic lunch at Ink Pots, we hiked our way back down the Johnston Canyon trail (our second destination). The upper and lower falls, and all the intermediary falls between them, were unbelievably beautiful!
The last hour was raining, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm for the hike.
All told, our work-around only added a few km to the hike, and Jim was able to very quickly get a ride back to Moose Meadows to get the car.
The most crowded area was Lake Louise. We drove to that exit off Route 1, but instead of turning toward Lake Louise, we went in the other direction for a few km to the Lake Louise Gondola parking lot, from which they offer free shuttles. The lake itself is iconic, but the area is crowded like Disney! Also striking, is how much the glacier above the lake has receded since I was last there.
The Lake Agnes trail is very nice, no need for bear spray because there are so many people and it is pretty noisy. We lunched at Mirror Lake with the impressive Big Beehive behind it.
We took the Little Beehive ‘detour’, which was much less traveled, with stunning views of the Canadian Rockies.
We continued on to Lake Agnes. Again, beautiful lake and waterfall, but MANY people.
We had great weather, not too hot for hiking during the day and not too cold for sleeping at night. Just love the GO – all the advantages of tent camping, yet off the ground! In bear country, all the food related bins and coolers need to be in the car when not in use, so we had to liberate them for each meal!
Something new to us at the Banff campgrounds is that they provide free firewood! We had a few campfires – even managed a Jiffy Pop one night!
This far north, it stays light until around 10pm. My sister and I took advantage of that and drove a few km from the campground to watch the sun glowing on the mountains and to view the Hoodoos.
The goal was to hike to Stanley Glacier. This was actually outside of Banff and part of the Kootenay National Park. We arrived early and after enjoying a tailgate breakfast, made our picnic lunch and set out. The lower area burned in 1968 and 2003, so we were hiking through re-growing lodgepole pines and marvelous wild flowers.
As we increased elevation, we could see the glacier and the run off falls and streams. The end was a challenging hike, over areas of post-glacier and avalanche shale and rocks, but the glacial and valley vistas were worth the effort!
Too soon, it was time to pack up again. As we would be dropping my sister and brother-in-law off at Calgary airport, we packed our GO in the low travel mode again, for our long trip across the Canadian plains.
Took a slight detour to see Lake Minnewanka on our way out of town. We saw a very photogenic Rocky Mountain Sheep.
We decided to picnic at Two Jack Lake. Saw three Aquaglide Columbia kayaks – same as ours – a great inflatable kayak the fits easily in the GO’s front storage bin, along with our tools, chocks, and GO parts.
Before leaving Calgary, we stopped in to visit the two ArrKann Trailer & RV Centre locations in Calgary. We had a nice visit with Jason and Travis at the North location. Answered some questions, told some stories, and talked about interest in the GO. As a matter of fact, when we stopped to pick up donuts on the way there, two guys came up to ask about the GO – of course we gave them a brochure and told them where the dealer is right around the corner!
At the East location, we met the sales manager Brock, his sales people Dan, Kelly, and Kathleen, and receptionist Courtney. They had lots of questions about actually using the GO. They enjoyed hearing stories about our actual experiences, and they shared some tips for places for our future travel