Let me just start off saying that I am not a writer by any means (haha) I just received a lot of messages about where we went and stayed in Alberta so I thought a blog post would be the easiest way to go.
I can honestly say that Banff and Jasper are the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. We decided on a trip to Alberta Canada after seeing pictures of the gorgeous blue lakes and mountains that our friends took on their trip a few years ago. They sold me on it but it took a little convincing for Ian to be up for it since he is more of a beach guy but in the end he was sad to leave Canada (VICTORY)!! We went at a pretty popular time to go because the weather tends to be great in August. The average temps were around 75-80 degrees with zero humidity. So no complaints about that .. it was perfect!!
We flew into Calgary, Alberta and it was about a 2 hour drive (at most) to Banff National Park. I’d say that’s the best airport to fly into if Banff is your final destination. On our way in, we stopped in Canmore which is a little town about 20 minutes from Banff to stock up on snacks for the road. I’d definitely recommend stopping here for breakfast or lunch (we ate at Rocky Mountain Bagel) because it is a cute little town with fewer tourists. You do have to have a Park pass when entering the parks, so keep that in mind!! I ordered mine online months before and they mailed it to me.
Our first two nights we stayed in Cline River which is the half way point between Banff and Jasper. It was a little out of the way, but we didn’t mind driving one bit. There is so much to see in the National Parks that you quickly realize that driving just isn’t an issue. We decided to stop at Peyto Lake first and were NOT disappointed. To avoid the tourists at the lookout point, go off to the left and down a short trail into the woods to find another spot that's less crowded. We set up Ian’s hammock there and stayed for about 2 hours hiking around and admiring the view.
We got to Cline River where we stayed at Aurum Lodge. This was our favorite place we stayed at because it was away from the crowds and really in the middle of nowhere set on Abraham lake. Y’all - it was GORGEOUS!! It was a bed and breakfast run by this sweet older couple and we wish we could’ve stayed there longer honestly but if you’re going up to Jasper then it’s out of the way. On our first full day we spent it at Lake Louise which was about an hour and half from Cline River, so we got up early to drive back towards Banff. Keep in mind- there are lots of places to stay in Banff, it is just more expensive and honestly a lot of it was already booked up (I started looking around 4 months before — probably waited too long because August is popular time to go).
While we were at Lake Louise we decided to hike to Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. This was about a 8 mile hike round trip. It was beautiful but make sure you have time to do it! The Tea house was so cute and it was a nice break to relax before the hike back down.
Tuesday we headed to Jasper National Park which is directly above Banff. You drive the Icefields Parkway to get there and it is definitely worth it. We stopped at the Columbia Icefields and it was beautiful!! We didn’t spend too much time there because in my opinion there’s not a whole lot to see other than the glaciers but it is worth seeing!!
As we made our way into Jasper, we drove straight to Pyramid Lake and did a short 2 mile hike (I can’t remember the name of it) and then explored Pyramid Island for a little bit before dinner. We stayed at another bed and breakfast called the Austrian Haven and it was lovely. Our sweet hostess named Annelies made sure we were comfortable and the location was perfect. Downtown Jasper is SO CUTE (I’m such a sucker for quaint mountain towns). There was so much to see and the food was delicious!!
The next day in Jasper we made our way to Maligne Lake which was about 45 minutes away. I knew that this was a popular destination in Jasper so I wanted to get there early to make sure we could make it on the boat cruise to Spirit Island. You can book there but I would recommend booking online weeks before because it gets booked up fast. The only way you can see Spirit Island is by boat SO DO THE BOAT CRUISE! It lasted around 2 hours and it was a great way to see the lake and everything that is not visible from the shore. We had time to kill before our boat ride, so we ended up doing a hike around the lake where we saw a moose and a baby moose. There are a lot of different hikes around Maligne Lake so you could definitely spend a day there if you wanted to. After our boat cruise to Spirit Island we went back to Jasper for dinner.
On Thursday we spent most of the day driving back down to Banff. It is about a 4 hour drive back to Banff from Jasper, so it really wasn’t bad. I know I mentioned this before, but the drive really is BEAUTIFUL so we didn’t mind being in the car one bit. We also would pull off the road a lot for pictures. We stopped at Athabasca Falls and spent about an hour there walking around and admiring the views. Definitely worth seeing because we hadn’t seen any waterfalls at this point during the trip. We also stopped at Bow Lake which was another turquoise glacier fed lake that is worth seeing. By the time we got back into Banff it was around 2 pm and I had the brilliant idea of doing a hike near Lake Minnewanka called the C Level Cirque trail. Not gonna lie - it’s a hard hike but the view at the top was worth seeing. I’d definitely recommend it! It took us around 4 1/2 hours total. That evening we stayed in a hotel right in downtown Banff (Banff Ptarmigan Inn) which was walkable to lots of restaurants and shops. Banff has a fun downtown area but be prepared for lots of tourists. There is a lot to do though and the shops stay open really late!!
On Friday we went to Moraine Lake which might’ve been one of my favorite days. Getting there was a little difficult because the road was already blocked off for cars to access it around 9:30 am, meaning there was already no parking up there. There is however always a free shuttle service at the bottom of the road near the Lake Louise Village, but we decided to park up at Lake Louise (we got SUPER lucky with a parking spot) and paid for a shuttle from the Fairmont Hotel. It’s probably a 15 minute drive from Lake Louise and we thought the shuttle was worth the money since we didn’t have to worry about finding a spot to park.
Y'all I cannot say this enough - Moraine Lake is BEAUTIFUL!!! We ended up canoeing on the lake as soon as we arrived to avoid the crowds and it was my favorite thing we did. The water really is that BLUE and it’s just out of this world. STUNNING.
Friday evening we had dinner in downtown Banff and stayed in an airbnb in Canmore to save some money. On our last day we explored Canmore a bit and made our way back to Calgary before flying out.
I hope this was helpful for all of you who are wanting to plan a trip to Banff National Park and Jasper!!