1. Moraine Lake
Fed by the glaciers, this stunning lake is located in Banff National Park just 8.7 miles outside the Village of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada! It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
2. Lake Louise
Probably one of the most popular lakes in Banff National Park. This glacial lake is Canada’s “Diamond in the Wilderness” and the “Hiking Capital of Canada”.
3. Maligne Lake
Located in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. One of the most photographed lakes in the world and known for it’s beautiful surrounding peaks and Spirit Island!
4. Medicine Lake
Located in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. Only 12 miles southeast of the townsite of Jasper. It’s part of the Maligne Valley watershed which is mainly glacial fed!
5. Peyto Lake
This glacier-fed lake is located in Banff National Park and is easily accessed from the Icefields Parkway. Is it really that blue…YES!
Incredible Mountain views Await You
The journey begins with an 8-minute gondola ride that will get your heart pumping as it slowly climbs up to the top of Sulphur Mountain! The spectacular views are worth the ride and once you reach the top you’ll have a bird’s eye view of six mountain ranges! Once you reach the top you can walk to the right on the boardwalk to the weather station. This is a moderate walk, but the views are worth the little exertion! There are plenty of places to stop along the way to take it all in!
The 4-passenger Gondola Ride
The ride to the top got our hearts racing. I wouldn’t say we were scared, but it was definitely a unique, exciting experience that we really enjoyed! About 2/3 of the way up the ride stopped and we just stared out in awe. There are so many places in the world that truly take your breath away with sheer beauty and this is one of them (all of Banff and Jasper, really)!
Riding the Banff Gondola with Kids ~ The Banff Gondola is fully enclosed, spacious, and offers 360-degree views of your surroundings. The doors lock shut, too!
When Should I Go?
The Banff Gondola is open year-round so you can really go any time! We went in July where the skies were blue and clear, but I would bet that going in the snowy winter is quite a sight to see!
What Should I Bring/Wear?
Dress warm and wear layers! Bring a jacket as it can get quite windy and cool at an elevation of nearly 2,300 ft. Wear comfortable shoes. Also, bring water. There are a lot of stairs and you may get thirsty! There is a restaurant as well as rest rooms.
Above the restaurant levels is the upper observation deck which offers the best views! There you can see the directions of different places around the world! If you walk to the opposite end (a 1 km self-guided walk with stairs) you will reach the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada and the historic Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station.
All in All
You should do this attraction! The ticket prices are reasonable and the views are spectacular! It’s not every day you get to see such amazingly beautiful sights…go and enjoy!
|Adult (16+): $34.95|
|Child (6-15): $16.95|
|Infant (0-5): FREE|
Have you ever stood on a glacier that is nearly 1000 feet deep? Not many can say that they have, but if you visit the Canadian Rockies you can do just that! The Columbia Icefield Glacier is the most visited glacier on the North American Continent and you can do this once in a lifetime experience during a fun and unique 80 minute journey any time between April and mid October.
The journey begins at the Icefields Centre where you buy your tickets. You then board a bus that takes you across the street to the glacier. You’ll then unload the travel bus and board the Ice Explorer, a unique and specially-designed vehicle that is equipped with huge tires and big windows (on the sides and ceiling of the vehicle) to give you amazing views of the surroundings! Once everyone is loaded you will crawl down the very steep hill and then reach your destination on the ice!
TIP: The entire journey is about 80 minutes, but your time on the Glacier is about 20 minutes so try and get a seat at the front of the Ice Explorer to maximize your time on the ice!
Notice the thickness of the ice between those mountains? That glacier fills the valley between Mount Andromeda and Mount Athabasca.
Just moments earlier this water was ice! How cool is that! It had probably been frozen for hundreds of years!
Good to Know:
- The Brewster ‘Ice Explorer’ is an all-terrain mobility that can transport up to 56 passengers.
- Make sure to notice Snow Dome (elevation 11,339 feet). The icefield-capped mountain is a hydrological apex: one of only two peaks in the world that drains in three different directions. Melting ice from the glaciers feed three of the continents major river systems that flow into the Artic, Atlantic, and the Pacific Oceans.
- Because of a the climate warming, the Athabasca Glacier has been melting for the last 125 years.
- The glacier sits on one of the most beautiful and spectacular drives in the world, the Icefields Parkway!
Safety First: Make sure to listen to your guide and stay only in the designated areas! The glacier has huge crevasses that form in the middle of the glacier and they are very dangerous. They are not always visible from the surface, but if you were to fall into one you could disappear deep into the glacier in a second. Also, don’t try to walk up the glacier from the bottom. There are crevasses that have lead to the deaths of unprepared tourists. Ice-walks are a whole other ball game and you should do your homework before attempting one!
Amazing Family Experience
All 6 of us had an absolutely amazing time and this was one of the major highlights of our trip. It’s such a unique opportunity and one that won’t ever be forgotten. The kids loved feeling the cold brisk air and newly melted ice water. They explored the area for huge ice cubes and just loved sitting in those huge tires! I truly enjoyed learning about the history and future of the icefield from our guide! She was so knowledgeable and informative, it was so much more than just standing on the 12oo ft. deep ice!
To find out more about this experience visit ExploreRockies.com
When visiting the Canadian Rockies I’m pretty sure that staying in Banff is on your list of things to do! After all, it’s a beautiful town with endless opportunities of things to do and see. It’s quaint, but busy, feel are both charming and modern and the summer months weather can not be beat! So if you’re looking for places to stay in Banff, I highly recommend The Fox Hotel and Suites!
A Family Stay at The Fox Hotel and Suites – Great Space
Since we were traveling with my in-laws we really needed something that was large enough for all 6 of us to spread out and not feel on top of each other. The Fox did just that! We reserved a two-bedroom suite with a living room and kitchen nook that gave us just the right amount of space!
Rooms with Personality – Luxurious and Well Appointed
The nicely decorated rooms have an appropriate mountain flare without feeling tacky. The gorgeous wallpaper is adorned with wildlife and it symbolizes Banff perfectly!
Bedroom One has two queen beds, a writing desk, large flatscreen TV, and private bathroom.
Bedroom Two is on the lower level making it more private and secluded. It has a private bathroom, two queen beds, and a large flat screen TV!
The Living Room: A place to connect with the family! This well appointed room offers a comfortable couch, a table with four chairs, and kitchenette with all of the necessities.
The couch pulls out into a bed in case you need a little extra room! My girls appreciated this because after a few nights of sharing a bed they were ready to have their own!
The Kitchen Nook is equipped with all of the necessities to make a quick snack. It offers a mini fridge, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, and utensils.
Great Location for Exploring Banff
The hotel is located on Banff Avenue just minutes from bustling Downtown Banff! You can easily walk to all of the action in about 10-15 minutes! What’s in Downtown Banff you ask? I’m so glad you did! In short, everything! The downtown area offers plenty of restaurants, hotels, shopping, a grocery store, souvenir shops, clothing stores, attraction outfitters, and much more. It’s also within walking distance to the river and park.
Travel Tip: The Banff Farmers Market takes place every Wednesday from June 12-Sept 11, 2013. It’s a great place to pick up some local souvenirs, snacks for the road, or local artwork unique to the Canadian Rockies! I enjoyed the work of Brandon Brown who photographs wildlife in the wild, not zoos! His work is amazing and you can view it here!
If you’re not interested in the scenic stroll don’t fret. The hotel offers every guest complimentary passes to Roam, Banff’s local transit system! Roam visits the Banff Gondola (a must-do), the Upper Hot Springs, The Tunnel Mountain Trail Head, and the Castle in the Rockies.
The Indoor/Outdoor Hot Pool and Sauna
This unique hot pool was a great place to soak, but not for too long because it is HOT!! How fun is that hole that looks up to the hotel!
Hotel Dining Options
Chili’s Bar and Grill is in the lower level of the Fox Hotel and Suites which offers it traditional menu. The restaurant is also open for breakfast and offers complimentary breakfast for Fox Hotel guests! The breakfast consists of fresh fruit, yogurt, juices, milk, make-you-own-waffles, pasteries, and muffins. It’s fairly simple, but when traveling with kids, having this option at the hotel is wonderful.
Getting to Your Room and Parking
I love the look of this hotel and the fact that you can access your room multiple ways! Our room was number 211 which had a street access as well as inner access. There is a free parking deck under the hotel as well as street parking if available!
Here is our porch that overlooked a side street.
Inside the Hotel View
Travel Tip: Calgary Airport (YYC) is about 1.5 hours from Banff. See How We Got There for Details!
The Fox Hotel and Suites
In July, we escaped the heat of the South and headed up to the beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains for a week long adventure in Jasper National Park and Banff National Park! We saw the most beautiful lakes, got up close and personal with tons of wildlife, stood on a 1,000 foot deep glacier, and hiked all through the area! I’d spent a lot of time researching where to stay in each place and, for Jasper National Park, had my heart set on Becker’s Chalets. I had a friend that stayed a long time ago and said great things about it, but what really sealed the deal was knowing how much my kids would love not only staying at a place on such a beautiful river, but also experiencing the frequent nightly visits by the elk!
Where to Stay in Jasper National Park
Hands down, Becker’s Chalets is the place to stay in Jasper! It is along the Icefields Parkway about three miles from town and sits right on the beautiful Athabasca River! Accommodations range from one-bedroom cottages to four-room chalets and all of them have fireplaces and kitchenettes! The grounds are gorgeous and clean as are the rooms!
The Grounds ~
Perfect for Exploring, Relaxing, and Re-Connecting with Mother Nature and all of her Glory!
Imagine unwinding from a long day of hiking and exploring along the pristine Athabasca River! You can grab a book and read or just soak it up and watch the rafters float right past you!
We stayed in a two-bedroom unit that had a fireplace, kitchenette, and living room. The beds were comfortable and the deck was the perfect place to sip coffee and enjoy the beautiful mountain views. The unit did not have air conditioning, but with the windows open and the fresh air blowing in it was not a problem. Since we were traveling with our extended family, we also utilized the sleeper sofa which my kids claim is the most comfortable sleeper mattress they’ve ever slept on!
The Nightly Visitors – Elk!
There are not many places that you can take your kids to experience animals so close up in their own natural environment! It was certainly a highlight for our family and a memory we’ll never forget! During our stay, in the eveing hours, a herd of elk would venture onto the property to graze and sleep. They wandered about the chalets and eventually found their cozy open field near the playground where they’d lay in the grass and sleep.
At one point we counted 35 in the field!
Travel Tip: Depending on the time of year you visit, it stays light out fairly late. We saw the elk between 9:00-10:00 pm and it was still light out!
Becker’s Chalets are just 3 miles from town. It’s an easy and pretty drive and if you’re lucky, you might see some more wildlife. We saw this bear just past Becker’s eating berries on the side of the road!
Our Top 5 Things to Do in Jasper (Details about each one coming soon!)
- Maligne Canyon – It’s nature at it’s most amazing and spectacular!
- Columbia Ice Field – Stand on top of a 1,000 ft. deep glacier! It’s not every day you get to do something like that!!
- Athabasca Falls – A super powerful waterfall and short, scenic walk!
- Hike to Some of the Most Beautiful Lakes you’ll ever see!
- Take a boat cruise and learn about the history of Jasper!
Travel Tip: Jasper is about 5.5 hours from Calgary Airport. The drive is one of the most scenic drives in the world so it could take even longer if you really want to take it all in (like us) so plan accordingly! To see how we got there and our itinerary click here.
With the great location right along the Athabasca River and just minutes from the town of Jasper, Becker’s Chalets are the perfect accommodations for a family looking for a true getaway vacation that will reconnect you with our beautiful earth! We are looking forward to visiting the Canadian Rockies again and Becker’s will be our top choice once again!
Is Peyto Lake Really That Blue?
YES, It Sure Is! The bright, turquoise color is because of glacial rock flower that flows into the lake in the summer.
Peyto Lake – Located inside of Banff National Park
This must-see lake is located on the Icefields Parkway and can be easily accessed via a steep, paved walkway to a viewing deck.
Athabasca Falls is a magnificently powerful waterfall located in Jasper National Park just off the Icefields Parkway. Flowing from the glaciers of the Columbia Icefields, the Athabasca River rushes through a narrow gorge where, by the sheer force of rushing water, the walls have been smoothed and a short canyon and potholes have been formed.
Oh So Interesting
These uber powerful waterfalls are a very short walk from the parking area. You get a great view from several different viewing points and have the option to walk further to see the calm lake they flow into.
You will not be alone at this very popular tourist stop! The crowds can get quite large and there is not a lot of room to spread out!
Travel Tip: Arrive early to beat the crowds!
The Athabasca Falls are rated the #1 attraction on Tripadvisor. I’m not so sure I agree, but it’s certainly worth the visit!
These falls are among the most powerful in the Canadian Rockies and put off a lot of mist (camera beware)! The rocks can get very slippery so use caution when walking and never go outside of the designated paths!
Restroom Facilities Available
Take a drive on one of the many scenic and secluded winding roads and you might just find a bear or elk grazing peacefully on the shoulder. Have a picnic at one of the breathtaking lakes and a herd of Bighorn Sheep may wander over to investigate you! One of the most spectacular things about visiting the Canadian Rockies is that you never know what wildlife you’re going to see or when you’re going to see it! Below you’ll find some of the Wildlife in Canada we saw on our weeklong adventure in Jasper and Banff!
The two main scenic drives are the Bow Field Parkway and the Icefields Parkway, but you have a good chance of seeing wildlife in either national forest! When traveling from Banff to Jasper, take the Bowfield Parkway to the Icefields parkway and, if you like to stop and take it all in, you should allow 6-8 hours for the journey!
Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park and it spans 2,564 square miles! It’s one of the world’s premier destinations spots full of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, and rivers!
Jasper joins Banff National Park to the south via the Icefields Parkway. This parkway offers unparalleled beauty as you travel alongside a chain of massive icefields straddling the Continental Divide.
Best Time to View Wildlife: Early Morning and Late Afternoon/Early Evening.