Jasper to Banff
So, I left the Train yesterday and stayed at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge overnight.
We are now guests of Brewster’s Coaches on behalf of Rocky Mountaineer. The Journey through the National Parks will continue by coach. It is not for everyone, but it is a great way to relax and enjoy the scenery whilst stopping off at all the key points of interest along the way. The Drivers are very knowledgeable and will from time to time narrate information to you as you drive.
Our first leg was from Jasper to Lake Louise and took us along the stunning Icefields Parkway.
Our first stop was at the beautiful Athabasca Falls. Definitely a highlight.
Top Tip: Don’t forget your Camera for this one.
We then drove to the Columbia Icefields Centre. Here you stop for lunch which is a buffet and is included in the Tour. You look round the visitors centre situated in a valley with stunning views of several Glaciers.
You then have the opportunity to go up on the Athabasca Glacier. This is an experience not to be missed. Your coach Driver takes you up to the departure station and here you board the Monster Trucks for the trip up onto the Ice.
Top Tip: Listen to your guides and do not go outside the marked flagged area. Some of the crevasses are hundreds of feet deep and people are killed on the Glacier every year. I don’t want to put anyone off going and it really is safe as long as you follow the rules.
The slope you traverse down on to the ice is very steep and you feel as if the Truck is almost vertical. However, you arrive at the bottom slowly but safely. You have about 10-15 minutes wander on the ice for those all-important pics then its back on the truck for your journey off the ice.
We then continued on through Yoho National Park to Lake Louise, Stopping for some great photo opportunities. One of my favourites being this mountain. Take a look. What does it look like?
Did you guess? A cruise ship of Course. It is affectionately called the Cruise ship of the Rockies by locals!
You also get to call at several lakes including my favourite Peyto Lake in Banff National Park
and Emerald Lake.
Again, I am not going to spoil everything for you but the scenery is beyond stunning.
Lake Louise is not a Town it is more like a Hamlet of a few Houses and lodges with the Fairmont Chateau perched on the Shore of the Beautiful Turquoise Lake. You can canoe here or hike around the lake.
Top Tip: If you are feeling energetic enough you can hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House which gives you a bird’s eye view of the Area.
There are lots of places to eat in the Chateau and as there is nowhere else to eat nearby you are restricted to what it has to offer.
Top Tip: Reserve your table for dinner here, well in advance or you may have problems.
Set your alarm early as you will not want to miss the sunrise here. As it rises you first get a stunning pink glow over the Mountains and the Glacier, then as the sun hits the mountain tops it turns to a shimmering gold. The pictures are great, but they really do not do it justice.
Top Tip: Book a Sunrise call with reception and if you don’t have a lake View room or if you just want a better view, then go down to the lake side for this event.
En-route from Lake Louise to Banff you again travel through more spectacular scenery. The Coach will stop to show you the Spiral tunnels which you would travel through if you took the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver or Vice Versa. If you are lucky you may see a train enter and leave the tunnels as it is used by other trains as well as the Rocky Mountaineer.
We also made a stop at some of the falls on the Kicking Horse River, supposed named in 1858, when James Hector, a member of the Palliser Expedition, was reported kicked by his packhorse while exploring the river. Hector named the river and the associated pass as a result of the incident. Another stunning photo opportunity.
Top Tip: A matter of courtesy. Don’t be tempted to climb down and walk out on the rocks although you may see others doing this. It is not that it is not safe, but it spoils the view for everyone wanting to take pictures.
It is only a relatively short trip from Lake Louise to Banff, so you should arrive in time for Lunch.
Part Five and my Final Journey will help you Explore Banff and what it has to offer and take us to Calgary before I fly home.