TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2017
Thursday, 26 September, 2013 14:46

And On To Banff

Amazing Scenery With A Touch Of Ice ….
The 280km Icefields Parkway is described as one of the worlds most spectacular highways and it proved to be correct.  After leaving the Jasper Tramcar we thought it would be hard to beat until we commenced our journey to Banff.  Our first stop was the Athabasca Falls, 30 km from Jasper and only a kilometre off the main road.  The falls thunder down into a narrow canyon creating a fine mist in the air.  Even at the end of summer there is still a massive amount of water going down the falls as it is mainly driven by glacier melt.

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Athabasca Falls

Onto The Glacier ….
Our next stop was the Columbia Icefields about 103 km from Jasper.  There is a very impressive Icefields Centre where you depart for the excursion onto the Athabasca glacier.  We booked on the 1 1/2 hour trip and after a short wait were on the bus heading for the staging point for the 6 wheel drive ice buses to take us onto the glacier.  The trip from the staging point although only short, was exciting, as this gigantic bus holding 56 people has to go down an incredibly steep incline to access the glacier.  Once onto the ice there is about a 1 km trip to the heart of the galcier.  The temperature drop from the Icefields Center to the glacier must have been at least 10 oC and the 20 minutes we spent on the glacier was enough before the chill was into the bones.

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Rob & Liz on the Athabasca Glacier

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The massive 6 wheel drive buses that carry 56 people

And On To Banff …
After an exciting glacier experience we drove through the Wilcox Pass to Big Bend just south of the Columbia Icefields.  Here you get magnificent views of the valley below and the Rocky Mountains on either side with their snow capped peaks.  What is amazing is that the entire 280 km journey is in National Parks, hence the name for the road, Icefields Parkway.  We finally arrived at our B&B about 6:30 PM and met our host Clara, a delightful lady, who welcomed us into her magnificent home and showed us our accomodation for the next 3 days.  Clara was also a wealth of knowledge in what to see in and around Banff.

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Icefields Parkway

A Tourist Town ….
Banff, right from its early origins, was built as a tourist town to increase the number of passengers on the newly constructed Trans Canada railway around 1885.  It is obviously a very wealthy town with nice buildings in alpine styling, great facilities, very nice houses and hotels and of course, the magnificent Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

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Our B&B in Banff

A Day With Everything ….
Whilst having dinner on our first night in Banff we found out that the New York Rangers Ice Hockey team were in town to practice and so the next morning down to the Recreation Centre to see the Rangers.  Our next stop was the Mt Norquay Ski Fields only a 10 minute drive from Banff.  From there to the Banff Gondola and on a magnificent sunny day we went to the top of Mt Sulphur and took the walk up at least 1000 steps to the very peak.  A few days earlier snow had fallen so here we were surrounded by snow but in warm bright sunshine.  You have a 360 degree view over Banff and the Rocky Mountains and this is a must do if visiting Banff.

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New York Rangers practising in Banff

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The peak at Mt Sulphur after our Gondola ride

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A recent snowfall on the peak of Mt Sulphur

A Wildlife Moment ….
After spending 2 hours on the mountain we took the Gondola back to the car park and  drove to the Banff Springs Golf Club.  It is a very nice course and club house with a magnificent backdrop of the Rockies.  On our drive out of the club we spotted Elk just wandering on the edge of the course and of course stopped to take photos. On the way home yet another Elk only 200 metres from our B&B. It caused a major traffic jam with people stopping to take photos.

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Banff Springs Golf Club with the Rockies as a backdrop

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An Elk near our B&B

Another Lake Cruise ….
Our next day we took a Japanese girl staying at the B & B with us to Lake Minnewanka.  We walked through the woods along the edge of the lake and then we took the lake cruise.  Following our lake cruise we went to see the Hoodoos, tall needles of sedimentary rock towering out of the hillside.  We then drove around Tunnel Mountain, went to Surprise Corner to get magnificent views of Banff Springs Hotel, then on to the Cave And Basin National Historic Site which contained thermal pools once open to the public but now due to the endangered Banff Springs black snail, the pool was closed and not available for public bathing. The locals comment; “bloody snails”.  We finally ended up in Banff downtown for a walk around the shops and a drink and early dinner in an Irish Pub.

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A Chipmunk posing for photos at Lake Minnewanka

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The Hoodoos

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The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel

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The thermal pool at the Cave & Basin historic site in Banff

Inside the Cave & Basin National Historic site. Once A thermal swimming pool.

Inside the Cave & Basin National Historic site. Once A thermal swimming pool.

 

Comments

Posted On
Sep 28, 2013
Posted By
Kerin

These photos and your experiences are WOW factor. I remember the glacier, the gondola up Sulfur Mountain (and bear tracks) and looking down on Lilliput just like Gulliver. Did you get to the Hudson Bay Store in Banff? I remember it being real old worldly with a stuffed grizzly bear in it somewhere. Such a beautiful part of the world..and I’m enjoying your journey vicariously. See you this time next week..safe travel home. PS: actually Melbourne may be similar weather wise today (Grand Final Day) – cold, blustery and sunny….be prepared..xx

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