What to see in Banff and Yoho National Parks ?
I’m really keen on telling you about what to see in Banff and Yoho National Parks, because it was the best day of our travel to Canadian Rockies.
Firstly, a preliminary remark: I suggest you to sleep at least two nights in Banff (or around area). This is why is worth devoting a first day to visit Bannf and its surrounding area. Banff is a very nice mountain village indeed. Then there are Bannf gondola, Banff Hot Springs and some panoramic routes linking Bannf to Canmore and Kananaskis area.
We dedicated a second very full day to admire the other beauties described here below. The Banff National Park with the Moraine Lake, Lake Loiuse and Lake Agnes. And the jewel of Yoho National Park: Takakkaw Falls.
The first marvel: Moraine Lake
We leave not too early from our Banff accommodation – the comfortable Inns of Banff – and we come back towards Lake Louise, up to the detour for the pleasant road leading to Moraine Lake. We park at a certain distance from the lake because there are a lot of cars.
If you love hiking, you will pleased to know that there are many trails starting from the lake (have a look at the first Gallery shot!). From the simple tour of the lake, to much more intensive hikes. After a first glance to the marvelous lake with its deep blue waters, we start our queue to rent a canoe at the only renting kiosk. Even if Laura is almost three years old, we are requested to rent a three people canoe. The queue, however, is quite fast. Our Lonely planet guide mentioned a cost of 45 Canadian $ for the renting, but they ask us 75 $. Maybe an update is needed, or maybe prices increase in the peak season!
Canoeing on the lake
Anyway, we were enthusiast of the canoeing experience. For our daughter was the first time in a canoe.
They give a life vest for each of us, putting the baby in the middle and we parents at each extremities of the canoe with an oar each. I firstly worry about Laura not falling down the lake, rather than rowing. Once get acquainted, we arrive up to the other edge of the lake. Here we can have a different view on the surrounding snow-capped mountains. We make wonderful shots: the water of such an intense blue is really photogenic! Then, we return the canoe very satisfied. After our last strolling and pictures taking, we return to the car.
Picnic for lunch
Along the way back to main road, we have a pic nic break in an open space with mountain view. Our picnic consists of some sandwiches made the same morning in hotel and some fruits. Then we are ready to go back on the road.
This was our average Canadian lunch, at least out of the major towns. This solutions brought many advantages: to save money on the expensive Canadian meals, to avoid losing to much time while visiting the Parks, to put what we wanted inside the sandwiches and stay lighter on these meals. Simplicity is not the keyword of Canadian cuisine compared to Italian one. Furthermore, our daughter is still too fussy about food. If she finds something extra in the sandwich beside ham, she won’t eat it! So we bought all necessary staff at supermarkets in the evening, in order to have the ingredients to prepare lunch in the morning.
The famous Lake Louise
With a bit of emotion we get to the well-known “Lake Louise”, we park close enough to the impressive Fairmont Hotel.
We start the promenade along the lake with Laura’s stroller. The lake side is as beautiful as crowded. Therefore we decide to begin immediately one of the many available trails. We choose that of 4 km – uphill – that brings to Lake Agnes. This is because we read that in front of this lake there is a lovely wooden Tea House, perfect for a snack. The place appears perfect for our daughter too. As a matter of fact in her mind the Tea House becomes immediately “Heidi’s house”.
The trail from Lake Louise to Lake Agnes and its Tea House
So we take this uphill path. Soon we meet an Indian mother who’s hiking down that kindly alert us that we couldn’t get to the top with the stroller, due to the trail conditions getting worse. We thank her and reply that when the path would be too bad, we’ll leave it and go on without it.
One consideration at this point: if you are great hikers and love hiking, please evaluate to bring a baby backpack carrier with you. Maybe saving space with other staff inside your luggage , because it’s useful but very bulky. We had to take an internal flight from Vancouver to Toronto (without car to get to and from the airports) so we decided to travel without it, in order to be lighter. Indeed we love walking but we aren’t master hikers. We use a lot Laura’s backpack during our mountains summer holidays, but only in places where we can get by car (no flights).
Walking in the rain…
After a while the path get worse indeed, so Laura gets down of her stroller and I carry it empty for an extra while. This in order to have it closer when we hike down. In the meantime, after some rather disquieting thunders, it starts raining lightly. Being halfway, we consider what do to. Meanwhile many people is keeping going uphill.
We decide to do the same, repairing from the rain in the Tea House. So we put on our K-way and Laura gets on dad’s shoulders. Soon, we leave the stroller behind a rock, at one side of the path. We concentrate on the ascent that gets harder. Laura keeps complaining, so I ask a lady coming down how far is the place. She says at least 20 minutes with a rather sobering look. We don’t lose heart and soon meet a first small lake, but we don’t stop due to the rain. We says to Laura to be patient: “Heidi’s house” is close! We even cross some horses going down the trail and finally some waterfalls and the little house above them!
Tea break at Lake Agnes Tea House
After the last effort, we finally get there. Uphill with the view, my daughter in my arms, the little house seems a mystic vision! Unfortunately, everybody thought to recover from rain inside the Tea house! We begin to take cover under the crowded canopy and to queue to get a table and order.
With a bit of perseverance, we get a table indoor: Lake Agnes Tea House is really nice, made completely in wood, with an open kitchen and a stepladder bringing to a loft. Laura really thinks it’s Heidi’s little house. To reward ourselves for the effort, we make a large snack: tea with scones for us, a chocolate and cake for her. This stuff for 24 $. However, we fully taste our well worth tea break, eating slowly, while waiting for the rain to stop.
Lake Agnes, among squirrels and falls
Actually rain stops. We can go out to enjoy the beautiful Lake Agnes in front of the Tea house, surrounded by the wood and its small animals, not afraid of humans. We are encircled by a couple of squirrels. Usually I say no, but this time I let Laura offer one of them a tip of its whole cracker. It takes it from her little hand and seems to like it, my daughter is captivated! After some pictures to the beautiful scenery, we go down, not forgetting to admire the gorgeous falls that we didn’t appreciate enough under the rain.
Last steps inside Banff National Park
We hike down a lot, before reaching the rock where we left the stroller. Luckly, we closed it and covered it with a cloth so now it isn’t wet. After sitting Laura on it, me and my husband push it together. Probably due to the tiredness and the disconnected path, she falls asleep very quickly. We perceive a mixture of surprise and esteem towards us, in other hikers’ glazes. Back down to Lake Louise, after some last pictures, we go back to our car. Tired, but very satisfied!
Now we head towards Field. Soon, we have to say goodbye to Banff National Park and enter Yoho National Park. We turn along the road that leads to Takakkaw Falls, place suggested by our trusted Lonely Planet.
A less well known marvel: Takakkaw Falls
The visit to the falls it is unmissable in our opinion. You will be moved by them even before arrival. In fact, you will hear their power and see their jet from the road already. From the parking lot, they seem majestic.
But you definitely need to cover the 15 minute path that leads under the falls. The previous observing points are nothing compared to the lively emotion to stay literally under them. You’ll feel that euphoria to be so close to such a force of nature! We get to the falls with the stroller, we only cover the last 100 meters just below the falls in turn, in order not to get the child wet. The sound and the water spreading are so strong: pure emotion! There is even the rainbow to get our memories and shots even more beautiful.
An enchanting accommodation: the Mount 7 Lodges
It’s quite late, so we go with no more interruptions to Golden. Once there, just a quick stop to a supermarket to get ingredients for dinner. In fact, we decided to make our dinner given that our Lodge has got its kitchen…and what a kitchen!
We need to say that this is the night when we granted us the best accommodation of the whole holiday. The Mount 7 Lodges is made by several wooden chalets. Ours was the Eagle Lodge, plunged among pines and squirrels, with no less than 4 bedrooms!
At the reception, his own house, the Mount 7 owner opens in his wardrobe (it’s already 8.00 p.m.). But he was so nice, he even grants us an egg we needed for our pasta dinner! Our chalet is just on the edge of the woods. Everything is rigorously in wood, the place is straight out of a movie! The inside is furnished with a great taste and touch for design. The front even owns a panoramic terrace, complete with a warm Jacuzzi waiting for us the following morning!
The Eagle Lodge
We enjoy our dinner in a kitchen far more spacious and high-tech of our own kitchen at home. Then, after trying some table games we find in the living room, we go up to our bedrooms for a big sleep.
In the morning, we get up with two squirrels engaged in a chase game on the pine in front of our window. After breakfast, we indulge – the three of us – in a Jacuzzi bath on the terrace, with view on the mountains and the ranch underneath. There is a slight mist in the air, to get everything even more relaxing: every morning should start this way!