Friday, October 25, 2013

Banff and Vicinity #1 – Alberta Canada

Our trip to Alberta was planned as a driving loop…Calgary to Banff, then to Lake Louise, Jasper, Edmonton and back to Calgary.  As is my nature, I’m always driving around whatever area we’re in and exploring.  The terrain of the Canadian Rockies limited the number of routes I could explore but we still managed to check out just about every available road in Banff and our other destinations…

This is the view from our hotel room.  We stayed at the Banff High Country Inn. ( The accommodations were just fine and, by Banff standards, the price was reasonable.  An Aussie was manning the desk when we checked in… The town was loaded with Australians working in various service jobs! 

This is a typical street scene in downtown Banff…although when this photo was taken, foot traffic was minimal.  At other times there were so many people on the street that it was like being downtown in a big city!  As you can see, whatever direction you look, you can see the mountains…

As you can see by the number of photographers taking pictures…Laurie included…this clever bit of mobile advertising parked on one of Banff’s downtown side streets got a lot of attention.

This is the AAA 4-diamond Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  It was a bit out of our price range but we had to check it out.  Besides, it was on one of the few roads in the area that we could explore!
The Banff Springs Hotel is a luxury hotel that was built during the 19th century as one of Canada's grand railway hotels.  It was constructed in the Scottish Baronial style and it’s actually located in Banff National Park.  The initial wooden structure was opened to the public on June 1, 1888.  In 1911, that building was replaced with this concrete structure that is faced with stone.
Here is the website for the hotel:  The rates are a bit lower during this ‘shoulder season’.  During the first week in November…Monday thru Thursday…you can book a room for only $270.00 a night. 

Trying to capture a photo that does justice to the beauty of the hotel and its setting was challenging and it was complicated by cloudy and rainy weather.  So…I copied a postcard that captured the scene!
The town of Banff is located within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  It’s in Alberta's Rockies along the Trans-Canada Highway, roughly 78 miles west of Calgary.  At an elevation of 4,600 ft. to 5,350 ft., Banff’s elevation is the second highest for any town in Alberta.
Banff is a destination for outdoor sports and features extensive hiking, biking, scrambling and skiing in the area.  Sunshine Village, Ski Norquay and Lake Louise Mountain Resort are the three nearby ski resorts located within the national park.

The setting for the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course is spectacular!  We drove along the gravel road that parallels a portion of the course.  Stanley Thompson, who was Canada's master golf course architect, used his extensive talents when he designed the original 18 holes in 1928.  The course winds along the Bow River under the snow-capped peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle.  In 1989, the course was further improved and expanded with the construction of an adjoining 9 holes course. 

This is Bow Falls on the Bow River.  Banff is located just above Bow Falls near the confluence of the Bow and Spray Rivers.  In June 2013, southern Alberta experienced heavy rainfall that triggered terrible flooding throughout much of the southern half of the province along the Bow, Elbow, Highwood and Oldman rivers and their tributaries.  Calgary and Canmore were among the many towns and cities that suffered heavy damage.  The waters of the Bow merge with other rivers and eventually they flow northeast into Hudson Bay.

This is the bridge across the Bow River that leads into Banff from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel… Mountain scenery is everywhere!!
Banff was first settled in the 1880s, after the transcontinental railway was built through the Bow Valley.  In 1883, 3 Canadian Pacific Railway workers stumbled upon a series of natural hot springs on the side of Sulphur Mountain.  In 1885, Canada established a federal reserve of about 10 sq. miles around the Cave and Basin hot springs.  As a means to support the railway, the area was promoted as an international resort and spa.  In 1887, the reserve area was increased to 260 sq. miles and it was named "Rocky Mountain Park." This was the beginning of Canada's National Park system.
The area was named Banff in 1884 by George Stephen, then the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  It was named after his birthplace in Banffshire, Scotland, now simply Banff.   The Canadian Pacific built a series of grand hotels along the rail line and advertised the Banff Springs Hotel as an international tourist resort.

This is one of the Vermillion Lakes along the Bow River just east of Banff and along the Trans Canadian Highway.  One of these lakes has a hot spring.  Activities on and around the lakes include canoeing, wildlife watching, hiking. Note: Another activity…at least during our visit…was running from the voracious mosquitos that apparently breed in these still waters!  This was about the only time we had a ‘bug problem’ during our trip… Beautiful views though…

Just one more view of the Vermillion Lakes and the surrounding mountains…

Evening…and back in Banff…and the traffic from the long August Canadian holiday weekend.  The road is wet and the skies are clearing.  One of our waitresses described the weather in the Canadian Rockies as being “Bi-Polar”…you never know what to expect and the forecasters just don’t have a clue!  “Changeable” would be the best and most accurate forecast!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by to catch up on our summer trip to Canada!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. We just came back home from a month away but we did not see big mountains as you saw in Canada. I have always wished to go to Banff and also to go on the train across Canada. I enjoyed reading your past posts. I have many pictures to download and need to start posting about our latest trip – although I never finished posts about our trip to San Francisco! We went to some restaurants during this last trip and I took pictures of the food, thinking about you. Thanks for coming to my pre-programmed posts. I did not take my computer with me but my daughter published all the comments. I just went back to real all yours.

  2. Dear Dave, Canada looks very beautiful. The scenery is just magnificent. Blessings, Catherine