The Bluest of Blue Glacial Lakes of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies

On July 13th, we headed north through Montana’s Tobacco Valley toward Canada. By this time, we had gone over 4,500 miles, and we were on our way to Canada’s Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies.

After a few hours, we made it to the border, where an angry Canadian mob levied retaliatory tariffs on us while carrying placards that read, “I ❤️ NAFTA.” Ha! Actually, a bored customs agent waved us and two other families into Canada at Roosville.

Even before we reached the National Park area, the scenery in this part of Canada was amazing.

This is just a randomly awesome lake on the side of the road.

Canada’s Banff National Park is bordered by two other parks – Kootenay to the west and Jasper to the north. We approached through Kootenay Park, and the bright blue glacier water and scenic mountains were everywhere.

One of the things we noticed in Canada was that the gas pumps required prepaying, even if we used a credit card at the pump. Even worse, gas was 5-6 dollars a gallon. Overcoming the hurdle of trying to estimate how much expensive gasoline to get at each pump and the strain of the mental math of converting liters to gallons, we made it to Banff.

It was my understanding that there would be no math during this trip.

From Wyoming to areas north, we had seen animal crossing bridges on highways, and there were a number of these in Banff.

Apparently, such structures greatly reduce the number of animals killed on highways.

In Virginia, we prefer to trust natural selection to eventually reduce wildlife deaths on highways. Eventually.

After experiencing Yellowstone’s $9 per fire pod bundle fee, I actually had to reign myself in to stop from taking more firewood than I needed. Still, when I returned to the campsite, we could build a mighty fire.
Tended with a mighty fire stick.

Sunset in Banff wasn’t until 9:52, and even after 10:30, there was a bit of light. By 11:00, not only was it growing dark but it was also becoming cloudy. This was the night our weather luck finally broke, which was probably a result of the bad karma we had earned coming from a state that did not shepherd animals across grassy land bridges. The forecast said that there was a 35% chance of overnight rain, which translated to a 100% chance of continuous thunderstorms. On the plus side, the tent was mostly waterproof.

The wet campsite helped us get an early start for our 9:50 Banff Gondola reservations the next morning. We actually made it early.
It was a Canadian miracle.

All of the night’s storms had passed through, leaving spectacular views of the mountains.

The gondola reached the top of Sulfur Mountain and we hopped off to see more amazing mountain views from the summit.

A few years ago, we had visited Mount Pilatus in Switzerland and emerged from the rail car into a cloud. We were able to see from the summit this time and avoid walking through droplets of rain, which was definitely preferable after spending the night in a damp tent, so we took the short path to the very top of the mountain.

The path was fraught with danger, and there were several close calls.

But we fought through and made it to the top.

Once we got back to the base of the summit trail, we went to the top level of the gondola terminal.

And gave thanks for our free Canadian firewood.

Then we went back to the bottom of the mountain for phase two of the day.

We drove north to see Morraine Lake, in the Lake Louise region of the park, and we were not the only ones to have this idea. Parking in the lake area was totally full, so we had to take this classy shuttle from the overflow lot.

After a half-hour ride, we arrived at Morraine and started the rock pile hike that oversees the lake.

When we reached the top, the views were absolutely stunning.

We found the lake from the movie Avatar.

The bright blue is mesmerizing, even more compelling in person than in pictures. We could have stood there staring at the water for hours.

‘We’ as in ‘Laura and I.’ Young children seem to be immune to the water’s hypnotic powers

McKenna, as is her way, engaged in a photo shoot on the overlook.

And she wasn’t the only one.

The blue water was so amazing that it was worth risking a child’s life to get this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Returning to the base of the rock pile, we followed the trail around the edge of Morraine Lake for more views of the crystal blue water.

And more photo shoots.

Then we took the shuttle back to the overflow lot and headed to our next adventure: Johnston Canyon.

The “trail” was easy to follow, as most of it was on walkways attached to the canyon walls.

These trails did provide amazing views of the canyon.

But the ease of the trail also made the hike insanely popular.

We fought through the herd to get a view of the waterfall.

There was a further hike to the upper falls, but we had had enough of the crowds, heading instead to the touristy Town of Banff.

The next night was frigid, dropping to 37. By around 8, it was warm enough for us to emerge from our sleeping bag cocoons and pack to leave the Canadian Rockies.

And the happy livestock, thrilled with their land bridges, came out to say goodbye.

4 thoughts on “The Bluest of Blue Glacial Lakes of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies

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