|We got an early start this morning and took our time making our way to Banff, our final destination for the next few days. We traveled 93 N on the Banff-Windermere Hwy and found it to be a good road with very little traffic. We passed meadows, many creeks and lakes, and of course had fabulous views along the way. Small towns were few and far between so we watched our fuel gauge closely. We stopped in Ft. Steel for diesel this morning and that was a good decision as there really weren't many options after that.
Lunch was at a beautiful pull-out and we enjoyed seeing the Columbia Lake, the beginning of the Columbia River which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. We visited the Columbia River near Portland a couple of years ago and were amazed by it's size and beauty.
Our visit here in Canada involves staying a few nights in several of their national parks. Unlike the U.S. where Larry purchased a Golden Age Pass for $20 for life, staying in Canada's national parks is quite costly. Daily adult passes are $9.80 per person. If your total # of days exceeds more than a week, than it is advisable to buy the annual pass. Which was $115.80...wow, we weren't expecting that! Hopefully it will be worth every penny of it!
We continued into the Kootenay National Park through Sinclair Canyon. Although there were colorful interesting sights along the way, over 12% of this park burned in 2003 due to two large lightening-caused fires. So there were many burned, but standing trees. But already, a new forest has been born within the blackened timber.
At Vermilion Pass we joined the Trans-Canada Hwy. We turned southeast toward Banff. We were impressed that this is such a good road, and we found the animal crossover bridges quite interesting!
The ride continued to be beautiful, although a bit of glare from the late afternoon sun didn't help while trying to take beauteous pictures! LOL But we did our best! We finally arrived at the Tunnel Mountain Campground around 5pm. All of the campgrounds we plan to visit while in this area are operated by the government. All of the no hook-up campgrounds have already closed for the season. Tunnel Mtn Trailer is open until October 1st, so we are just under the gun. It is $38.20 + taxes for a night, almost double what we like to pay. But, in this very touristy area there really is no other choice. We had a bit of trouble with the trees blocking our satellite, but with the help of some nice folks in the datastorm forum were able to find a solution. So, for the next 2-3 days we will have both TV and Internet. When we move further north to Jasper (on Saturday I think), it is doubtful we will get either.
So, we are set up and heading into town for a quick look around before dinner. I looked up a bit of info on Banff as I knew nothing about this quaint little town. I learned that:
Banff is the largest town in Banff National Park, in Alberta's Rockies, Canada. It is also the first incorporated municipality located within a national park in Canada. At 4,800 ft, it is the town with the highest elevation in Canada. It is surrounded by mountains, notably Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain; and situated above Bow Falls near the junction of the Bow and Spray Rivers. Banff is located 78 miles west of Calgary and 36 miles east of Lake Louise, on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Banff is a resort town and one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations, known for its mountainous surroundings and hot springs. It is a major destination for outdoor sports and features extensive hiking, biking, scrambling and skiing areas within the region. Two ski resorts are located in close proximity. Fortunately for us, we aren't here during the ski season! LOL
Ok, we're back from town! It's really nice here. We checked out the Banff Springs Hotel, a giant castle looking place. Beautiful grounds as well. It was getting dark, almost 8pm so pics were hard to take. But you'll get the idea. Behind the hotel is the pretty Bow Falls, we'll try to get back over there during the day! We drove along the main street of town for just a few minutes enjoying the many folks walking the sidewalks. Many of the trees are lit and there are flowers everywhere. Very pretty. So glad to be here...Hope you enjoy the next few days as explore this beautiful area. We're visiting Lake Louise tomorrow. Goodnight...