Rocky Mountains Lake

Vancouver to Calgary over 7 days

After 36 hours of travelling from Perth, Australia, I finally arrived in Vancouver! Picking up our rental car, we made the slow drive out of the city and onto Highway 1 eastbound.

Our first stop was at a Tim Horton’s in Chilliwack so Jarrad could try his first ever Timbit. After about two hours of driving, we arrived in Hope, BC, for our first stopover.

At the High Hopes Bed and Breakfast, we were greeted at the door by the owner, and her two tiny dogs. The rooms are situated upstairs away from the main living area downstairs, which also functions as the owner’s kitchen and living areas. We were in the Bear Room, which was aptly named as it was covered in various bear memorabilia. I thought I’d have no trouble sleeping after the long travelling time from Perth, but even with a sleeping tablet, I was awake by 5am. I knew day two was going to be a looooooong day!

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First bear of the trip!

By the time we had our huge homemade breakfast and packed the car, we were on the road by 9am. Our first stop for the day was in Kelowna, to visit the Quail’s Gate Winery. We sat in the garden alfesco area, overlooking the vineyard and Okanogan Lake. I had some tea, Jarrad had a trio of Chenin Blancs (the 2007 was the winner).

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Quail’s Gate Winery
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Beautiful view from the dining area. How good is this?!

Moving on, we crossed over the bridge to Kelowna and headed south to the Cedar Creek Winery and more amazing views, this time from the eastern side of the lake.

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The view from Cedar Creek Winery

Feeling peckish, we headed back into town and had a light lunch at Good Earth Bakery. We then jumped back onto the highway and headed northeast to Griffin Lake Lodge, about 25 km west of Revelstoke.

The lodge is located on Griffin Lake, which with no wind that afternoon and into the evening, had an exact mirror image of the mountains reflecting on it. Gorgeous! As part of our accommodation we had free access to the canoes, so we took an evening paddle the length of the lake. We then headed into Revelstoke and found a pub with an outdoor patio and had a couple burgers and a beer. Unfortunately I couldn’t have any Canadian beer yet as I was still feeling very ill. I did manage to inhale my burger though in record time!

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Griffin Lake
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A perfect night for a paddle
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Griffin Lake Lodge

In the morning we had a giant home cooked meal prepared by the B&B Owners (a huge cup of fresh fruit, banana bread, giant omelette, toast and juice) and had a lazy hour at the lake.

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Only you can prevent forest fires

We then drove to Revelstoke National Park and up the mountain to the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. The drive takes you up 16 switch backs up the mountain with lovely views along the way. The Meadows in the Sky walk takes you up to a meadow that at this time of the year (and definitely by mid-late August) is covered in wildflowers. Unfortunately for us, the snow had taken longer to melt than usual and the meadow was still snow covered. As it had started to rain by this time, we decided to do the short walk to the watchtower (small house on a hill) to check out the 360 degree views.

Walking down the 1km to the car park (the last kilometer was closed due to snow) we were thinking ‘what we would do if we saw a bear‘. The decision was to quickly walk by the other tourists and hope the bear ate them instead!

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Meadows in the Sky Parkway

The next stops were the Skunk Meadow trail (about a half hour stroll along a boardwalk – no wildlife noted) and the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail. This walk took about 20 minutes and went through the forest including some pretty big trees. It was definitely more interesting than Skunk Meadows, but then again, I’m a fan of really huge trees!

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Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail

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By this time we were all walked out, so we drove the hour or so to Golden. After another feed of burgers at a river side restaurant with patio (the sun had come out by then), we decided to continue onto Yoho National Park to see a few sights so we wouldn’t have to stop in the morning. This added about 1.5 hours of driving onto the day, but since it was a short driving day, it wasn’t too bad.

The first stop was Takawakaa Falls, which is an 800 ft waterfall that you get to by driving up a pretty windy road and then walking for about a 15 minutes. Since the snow was still melting in some parts, so the waterfall had lots of water coming down! We got pretty close, but the mist coming off the falls was quite cold, so we stopped short of being too close to it.

Driving westwards, we turned onto the road leading to Emerald Lake, with a very short stop off at the Natural Bridge. I was expecting it to look more ‘bridge-like’ so I was not all that impressed.

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Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake was another 10km or so down the road, which is the home of the Emerald Lake Lodge. There was a restaurant with very nice lake views but we decided against it. The lake was stunning and the first emerald-green lake we’d come across. After a few pictures on the bridge, we headed back off to Golden.

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Emerald Lake
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Emerald Lake

Having had a late lunch around 4pm, we got a few groceries in town and headed to our accommodation for the night, Home Lodge, about 10 km north of Golden. Having crossed into Mountain Time, we arrived at 9:45, but felt like 8:45. We had a quick meal of cereal and then jumped in the outdoor hot tub with a couple of Coors Light (given to us by our hostess as some people had left them there on a previous night). Sitting out in the hot tub in the rain was awesome, but it was getting late and I was still extremely jet lagged, so off to bed for a reasonably early night.

From Golden we continued east until we reached the Highway 93, also called the Icefields Parkway. For a collection of photos over the two days in Jasper National park, another blog post can be seen here.

After two amazing days in Jasper, we continued east to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Lake  Minnewanka.

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Lake Louise
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Lake Louise
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Hot chocolates and pizza with the best view ever at the restaurant at Chateau Lake Louise!
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Canoes at Moraine Lake
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Lake Minnewanka. An unexpectedly beautiful spot, with a lovely walking trail along the lake. We only saw a handful of people and we visited the area in late July.

After a long day of driving, we ended up at the beautiful mountain town of Banff and filled up at a steakhouse. Though I’d gone up the gondola many times when I was living in Calgary, I couldn’t take my Aussie boyfriend to Banff and not go up Sulphur Mountain. I was glad we went, because it’s as beautiful as I remembered.  I think the views speak for themselves.

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The Sulphur Mountain Gondola, the easiest way to get up to the top. You can also hike up the well-worn trail to the top.
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Looking down on the town of Banff from the look out at the top of Sulphur Mountain.
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Looking down at the Banff Springs Golf Course

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After walking the boardwalk over to the old weather station, the view back to the main building where the gondola takes you

After a week in the Rockies, we continued east, ending an amazing time in one of, if not the best, areas of Canada (and I’m from Nova Scotia) 🙂

Have you driven through the Rockies? What are your favourite spots?

 

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