Leaving Whitefish we were ready to take on the long drive ahead of us. We have been prepping for this for months and we are all antsy to get moving. The 60 miles from Whitefish to the border went quickly and we all got across the border checkpoint without any issues. Well, except for a little squirrel getting into the camper, but we were able to get it out ourselves without needing to call a professional for squirrel removal services.
Our original plan was to drive through Calgary. Of the three of us, we are the only ones who have been to Banff so it made more sense for us to make our way there for the week instead.
The drive through British Columbia and eventually into Alberta where Banff National Park is located in the Canadian Rockies is awesome. Most of the roads we took to get there were the same ones we took on our way back into Idaho 2 summers ago.
We were able to find a spot at Tunnel 1 Campground right in the national park. It has no hookups and is well shaded but since we don’t have internet access here and will need to go into town for work ,we will be fine since charging our computers will make up a majority of electric draw.
Our favorite part of being in a Canadian National Park campground is their supply of firewood. You just have to pay for a daily fire permit and with that, you get access to unlimited wood from a giant wood pile.
The first thing we did was to take a day trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake but the weekend crowds here were completely insane. It was a Sunday afternoon so even though the campground crowd had started to thin out, everyone left there and flocked to all of the nearby destinations for the afternoon.
We came back to a nearly deserted campground and got to work building one of many epic camp fires.
We ended up pretty much being in this loop by ourselves but since this is the only loop that has fire rings, our site was the spot to be during happy hour.
The sun is starting to set later and later in the day. It has been tough to get the kids to bed at a reasonable time. Here is Tim’s pup Moose. He is the favorite amongst the kids. They get very excited each day when Moose comes by for a visit during happy hour.
Last time we were here we met a couple who lives and works in the area. Lawrence and Kerry are originally from Ontario but moved here to get away from the busy city. We have been keeping up with each other on Instagram and when we got here, they came by the campground for a visit.
They told us that we were getting near a good cycle of solar winds so there is a chance to see northern lights. That night I set up my GoPro and it was able to capture some colors that are undetectable by the naked eye.
Here is the same time lapse video that makes up the star trails photo from above.
The Canadian National Parks have an Xplorer program for kids similar to the Junior Ranger program that our kids are familiar with. You get to earn these cool dog tags and since we will be passing a couple of them, we decided to start a small collection.
Now that the weekend crowds have subsided, we decided to give Lake Louise and Moraine Lake another shot. On our way there, we took the frontage road along the highway called Bow Valley Parkway. This is the road people take in order to look for wildlife. We lucked out with sightings of a black bear feeding on some vegetation in the shadow of a tree.
Here is the beautiful Lake Louise. Even though it is after 5pm on a weekday, it is by no means vacant. We just didn’t have to circle for hours looking for a parking spot just to give up and go back.
Last time we were here this little one didn’t even start to wear shoes.
We didn’t get to hike up to the tea houses last time and really hoped to do it this time but it just didn’t work out. Weekends are too crowded and having to work during the week means only 5pm is an option. By then, even though the sun is still out for many more hours, the tea houses no longer are open.
We opted to instead hike along the lake just as we did 2 years ago.
The kids took their shoes off and got into the freezing cold glacial water.
They didn’t last long. It could not have been more than a couple degrees from freezing.
Luka made it all the way down to the other side but did need a little help coming back. At more than 40 lbs, this 3-year old baby still likes to get in that baby carrier.
Lake Louise is about a 30 mile drive from Banff and along the highway there are a few of these overpasses. Canada does a really good job of protecting the wildlife from being hit by cars. All along the road there are fences keeping them out of the highway and these bridges are built specifically for wildlife to get to the other side.
I tried again to get possibly a better northern lights video the second night but it was not meant to be. All I got was these lousy stars circling around Polaris and apparently some car driving through the campground in the middle of the night.
And just like that, these 2 have finished another year of home school. Mila is moving on to first grade and Ava is going to be a third grader come fall. We will keep our regular journalling and junior ranger activities all summer but they are otherwise free to play!
In the middle of the week, Jeff and the kids moved to the site next to us from the other loop they started in and a German family also set camp next door. The girls somehow managed to play with them even though no one understood what each other is saying.
Yoda was tempted once or twice to hop out of the trailer with all of the squirrels running around the campground. She only does that when there are bears around.
All week long, we figured out a routine of how our life revolves around not having cell phone service and needing to connect to the Internet for work 8 hours a day. I worked a couple of days at coffee shops and hotel lobbies before finding myself most comfortable at the city library. Marlene mostly takes the kids around town to explore and eat Canadian-priced ice cream cones.
Pate a biscuit.
I am pretty sure there is no liver on his ice cream cone. But you never know, these kids actually really love liver.
A few miles up the road from town is the Banff Upper Hot Springs. We didn’t make it here last time so this time we had to remedy that.
The hot spring water is piped into a large swimming pool and is open year round. It is pretty warm and the kids could only manage to stay submerged for a few minutes at a time.
You can walk from the inside of the building down a ramp right into the pool. Must be pretty amazing here in the winter with snow piles all around.
Just outside of the Tunnel Mountain Campground, there is an overlook with these red Adirondack chairs. Of course Canadians don’t care about the Adirondack mountains so they call them Muskoka chairs named after a similar region in Ontario Canada.
They are kind of an easter egg of sorts in the national parks. The park system doesn’t tell you where they are but you will see them scattered around scenic areas.
If you come across one, make sure to take a moment, sit down and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.
And then run away like a screaming banshee because you can.
Before we leave Banff, the kids finished their Xplorer workbook and went back to the visitor center to trade it in for their Canadian National Park dog tags.
I don’t think they will be building a big collection of these but they will join the other Junior Ranger badges they have collected over the years from US National Parks.
Before we start making our way up the Jasper Icefields Parkway, we had to make sure we got to see Moraine Lake.
We got here on a weekday after 6 PM and it was nearly empty.
The water was not as calm as we have seen in photos but it was just as beautiful as we expected.
A short hike along the lake shore revealed some more beautiful scenery.
They learned this time that this cold glacial water is not that fun to soak your feet in.
Tim and Kerri met us out there and snapped some photos of their own on a short hike.
We will miss this place as we start making our way further north.
But the shenanigans will not stop with this little one.
Until next time, we are off to Jasper.
over and out,