It was a clear and beautiful morning in the mountains! This is our final look from our hotel room in Banff…
We were especially happy that a perfect optional route exists…allowing us to skip the 4-lane Trans Canadian Highway. We followed Highway 1A, the Bow Valley Parkway from just outside Banff all the way to Lake Louise. There wasn’t hardly any traffic and there were lots of places to pull off and take photos!
The Canadian Rockies are very different from the American Rockies. The Canadian Rockies are composed of layered sedimentary rock such as limestone and shale and the American Rockies are made mostly of metamorphic and igneous rock such as gneiss and granite. On average, the American Rockies are taller than the Canadian Rockies, but they appear a bit lower from base to summit because the mountain valleys in the USA are higher.
The Canadian Rockies are also more jagged than the American Rockies, because the Canadian Rockies have been very heavily glaciated, resulting in sharply pointed mountains separated by wide, U-shaped valleys carved by glaciers. The American Rockies are more rounded, with river-carved V-shaped valleys between them. The Canadian Rockies are also cooler and wetter, giving them moister soil, bigger rivers, and more glaciers. As a final point, since they are further north and the climate is cooler, the tree line is much lower in the Canadian Rockies than it is in the American Rockies.
Just cruising up the Bow Valley Parkway… This scenery is really hard to take!
This is the Bow River south of Lake Louise with the Canadian National Railway tracks running alongside the river. The railroad follows the river and parallels the Trans Canadian Highway past Lake Louise. Both the Trans Canadian and the railroad turn west, cutting through the Rockies just north of Lake Louise.
Trees in the Canadian Rockies include aspen, Lodgepole Pine, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. The Lodgepole Pine is named because of its use as structural poles for the Native American tipi shelter. A typical tipi is constructed using 15 to 18 lodgepole pines. The long, straight and lightweight characteristics of this tree made it ideal for horses to transport it in the nomadic Plains buffalo hunting cultures. Back in the day, tribes made long journeys across the Great Plains to secure lodgepole pines that only grew in mountainous areas.
Just another view along Route 1A…
Laurie spotted this little guy along the road… I believe that it’s a Columbian Ground Squirrel. These little critters hibernate seven or eight months out of the year. They have a special hibernation ‘room’ in their burrows that’s sealed off from the rest of the burrow with a plug of dirt. It puts on fat in the summer and stores seeds and bulbs in its hibernation chamber to eat when it wakes up in the spring.
This was our hotel in Lake Louise… The hotel choices in this area are somewhat limited and they are a bit pricy…even by Canadian Rockies standards. However, the Lake Louise Inn served our purpose well and we’d stay there again if we were ever in the area. The Inn is really a group of 5 lodges with a variety of guest accommodations available. http://www.lakelouiseinn.com/index.php.
This is a view near our hotel looking up Louise Creek toward the mountains… Lake Louise is drained through this mile plus creek which empties into the Bow River.
This is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise… It’s located right on the shore of the lake. The hotel was first conceived by the railway at the end of the 19th century. It was built as a vacation destination to lure well-to-do travelers to take the train and head west. By the time airplanes and automobiles had basically shut down the trains, the hotel had gained enough of an upscale reputation to have a life of its own. There will be much more about this hotel in a future blog…
Just click on any of those scenery shots to transport yourself to the beauty of the Canadian Rockies…
Thanks for riding along with us on this most beautiful day for a drive!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave