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Trip Report July 12-15th

watertown, MA
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17 posts
2 reviews
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Trip Report July 12-15th

Hope this helps future planners:

My wife and I arrived at Calgary airport just before 11am Thursday am. Airport customs was a breeze and there was no wait at the Alamo car rental desk, so combined with only packing carry on luggage, we left the airport at 1130am. We took the direct route to Banff, and even with the twenty something stoplights getting out of Calgary, we still reached the Banff border by 1pm. Of note, there was some bridge construction close to Banff and we waited in traffic for 10 minutes or so. The line to get the NP visitor pass was short, maybe 5 cars deep, and we reached the Lake Louise area by 145pm. Since it was an absolutely gorgeous day, we headed right up to Lake Moraine. The road from LL to Moraine was slow, and we arrived about 210pm. Parking was ugly, with cars parked off the side of the road way before the main lot. We got lucky, and only waited a few minutes and got a great parking spot. We took a quick look at the lake and then did our first hike of the trip, Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass. Truly a great hike! Upon reaching the trailhead, we were surprised to see the group of 4 hiking restriction was now in place since I had called the day before and the restriction not there yet. We waited about 10 minutes, then met a nice couple who we hike with to the pass. Passed about 20 or so people going up, but when we reached the pass at around 415pm, we had the top to ourselves! The views were amazing. After 30 minutes or so on the top, we headed down, finishing the hike at 630pm. Overall, the hike was easier than we thought. My wife bought a few sodas for the ride home and I ran up the "rock pile" for really a great view of Moraine Lake. A must for even non hikers.

We drove back to Banff, an easy 45 minute ride given the views. Checked into our hotel, the Fox Hotel and Suites, showered, and walked the 10 minute walk to the downtown. Ate at the Grizzly House because we saw Fondue on someones plate sitting outside and had to have it! Food was ok, and it was expensive, but to have Fondue was worth it.

Next am, we drove to the Lake Ohara for the 830am bus. Of note, there were 5 no shows so 5 people who were waiting got on the bus. Rain started as soon as we reached the hikers shelter drop off, but we kept going with our hike- Lake Oesa. Another great hike. While it rained on the way up, it got sunny just as we reached the top. Lake Oesa was still partially frozen, and to be honest, we liked the first of the lakes after Ohara on this hike best, (I believe called Yukeness Lake???) We took a lot of pictures on this hike as there are views everywhere- glaciers, snowfields, waterfalls, rock fields, etc. Just a great hike. We easily reached Lake Oesa by 11 and could have been back to the trailhead by 1230, but since the ranger on the bus advised against us going to the other hike we had in mind- Lake McArthur- we walked and sat along various points of Lake Ohara and took the 230 bus back to our car. (McArthur still had many dangerous Avalanche crossings) Back at our car, we headed over to Emerald Lake for a beer on the outside patio. Very nice, but the views did not come close to Ohara. Note there is major highway construction between Emerald Lake and Lake Louise. Leaving Emerald Lake, we drove back to Banff. My wife took a shower and went shopping on Banff Ave. I headed over and hike Tunnel Mountain. Easy, wide, and a nice view of the golf course below (Mount Rundle???) I made the up and down in just over an hour, but I was moving it the whole way. Dinner that night was at the Keg Steakhouse next door at the Caribou Lodge. I wish we had eaten elsewhere, as our meals (steaks) were average at best. The next morning, Saturday, we let tour hotel at 645am, hit Starbucks which opens at 630am, and drove up to Lake Louise. Since we were there at 730am, it was almost empty. To be honest, my wife and I were both disappointed with the views. After asking someone to take our picture, we headed up the Plain of 6 Glacier hike. This was our least favorite. The first 2.5 km are flat going around LL, and then you are in mostly trees for the next 15 minutes before great views appear. We passed just few hikers going up, and got to the teahouse at 930am and had the place to ourselves. Way, way overpriced, but we got a lemonade, tea and some sort of biscuit with jam and enjoyed it out on the top deck. Note, there are not any good views from the teahouse as its tucked into the woods a bit. Unfortunately, the trail out to the Glaciers edge was closed due to train instability, so we hiked down. When I say the trail got crowded, I mean literally hundreds of people were heading up while we were heading down. So if you choose this hike, do it very early or your wilderness experience will be ruined by hoards of people. We also made the mistake of getting lunch at the deli in the LL hotel. Long lines of Japanese tourists and seniors! Any younger person might want to avoid LL during the mid day. There were tons of seniors slowing clogging up the walkways, and it really took away from our experience. Happily, we left the overcrowded parking lot of LL and headed up to our last hike of the trip, Parker Ridge. Another winner. We arrived at the trailhead just after 2pm. Despite signs every 15 feet advising people to not take shortcuts and stay on the trail, there are great views all the way up. We saw 3 snowboarders flying down one the the snow fields, and upon reaching the top in about 45 minutes, were amazed that there were even better views on the other side of the ridge! We spend a good hour up here under sunny but windy skies. We saw a small heard of horned sheep, and took a ton of pictures. One drawback again was the number of people on the hike, we must have seen at least 50 other hikers. But once on top of the ridge things space out and you can easily find some privacy to enjoy the views. We headed down and drove back to Banff, stopping at the Peyto Lake overlook. Wow was this area crowded. Avoid unless you get here before or after the tour buses. The view itself was nice, but not spectacular.

Back in town, we went into the Grotto/pool at the hotel to rest our legs, then headed out to our last dinner at the Bison Restaruant. Great meal and great atmosphere. And we liked the high backed leather chairs at the window seats!

We had a very early flight home on Sunday, and we left Banff in the dark. I drove extra slow as I saw deer and elk along the side of the road. It took about 90 minutes, again, to get to the airport. The entire process of customs and security was good, taking about 45 minutes. There are big signs that say to be at airport at least 2 hours before you flight, but since our flight left at 640am, there were minimal lines when we were there.

Overall, we wish we had more time but we packed in what I feel was a solid 3 day trip to Banff/Yoho.

Advice: Get to Lake Ohara, its that good. Stay away from Lake Louise, leave it for the tour buses. Fox Hotel was nice, but only suites have AC. You can do better closer to downtown.

Thanks tripadvisor!

Newtown, PA
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1. Re: Trip Report July 12-15th

Thanks for the helpful report. We'll be there in a couple weeks. Any chance of posting your pictures?

We weren't able to get tickets for Lake O'Hara. I'm tempted to head up and see if anyone doesn't show.

2. Re: Trip Report July 12-15th

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