Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our Camping Trip in Banff National Park

We are back from our camping trip.  We had a great time and saw some beautiful parts of the world.   We went camping with three of my brothers and my sister and it was great to visit with them all.  We did have to deal with some cold and rainy weather but we managed all right.  While camping we tend to spend a lot of our time around the campfire cooking our meals and enjoying sitting outside so we don't get a very early start and most of our evenings our spent around the campfire.  We spent even more of our time around the campfire this trip as it was so cold we wanted to be by the fire to stay warm. I'll give you a quick day by day of what we did as much for my records as for your reading enjoyment (or boredom?).

Day 1: July 10, 2010.  We left at 7:30 in the morning for the 9 hour drive to Banff.  The kids were all very good on the drive.  We do have a DVD player in our van so the girls watched a couple of movies, but we did spend a lot of time talking, they read some books, and they did some drawing and colouring as well.  We had to stop a couple of times for me to nurse my son and we tried to stop at a park or somewhere where the girls could get out and run around while I fed him.  Then we let him stretch out a little bit too before packing ourselves back in the van to continue the trip.  We were very happy when we finally arrived at our campsite at about 6:00 PM that night.

Day 2: July 11, 2010.  In the morning we went to Johnston Canyon and hiked to the Lower and Upper Falls.  It was a very nice canyon and the falls were pretty.  This is a very popular spot so if you want to do this hike I would advise you to get an early start to avoid the crowds.  In the afternoon we went to Johnson Lake and hung out on the beach.  Some people went swimming but the water was way too cold for me.  After that we hiked up to Cascade Falls.  It was a steep hike but it was pretty short.

Johnston Canyon
The girls at Johnston Canyon
Cascade Falls
Going for a shower at Cascade Falls.

Day 3: July 12, 2010.  We drive to Yoho National Park to see Takakkaw Falls.  It was a bit cool and windy this day and we got caught in a bit of a rainstorm while hiking by Takakkaw Falls.  We took shelter at the walk-in campground, then made our way back to our vehicles when the rain let up.  While in Yoho we also stopped at a lookout to see where a waterfall had created a natural bridge, and a lookout which describes the spiral tunnels built in the mountains for the railway.  Both were interesting.

Takakkaw Falls
My six year old on our hike near Takakkaw Falls.  She loved climbing on the rocks.

Day 4: July 13, 2010.  This day was our coldest of the trip.  The low was -1*C and the fore casted high was 5*C.  So we decided to take a drive and go to Radium Hot Springs.  On the way we stopped at Marble Canyon which was a short but very interesting hike with many bridges over the canyon.  The hot springs felt very welcome after the cold weather and the girls enjoyed swimming in the cooler pool as well as it had a diving board and a slide.  This was definitely a family friendly place to visit and the cost was reasonable (under $20 for a family of four).

Day 5: July 14, 2010.  The weather started to warm up a bit on this day.  In the morning we went to Lake Louise which is very beautiful.  We did a hike up to a lookout point there and came across some snow.  It was a good hike with lot's of nice views of the lake.  In the afternoon we drove up to Moraine Lake.  It is very pretty as well and the water is very blue.  We did a short walk along the lake but it was cold and windy beside the lake. Then we went into the Village of Lake Louise to pick up some groceries.  We also went to the visitor info center which the girls enjoyed.  My 6 year old loved collecting pamphlets and looking at the maps.

Hubby and the girls at Lake Louise 
Climbing on a hike at Lake Louise
By Moraine Lake

Day 6: July 15, 2010.  On this day my hubby two of my brothers, both my sisters and my new brother-in-law attempt to climb Eiffel Peak.  This was a scramble (meaning there is some climbing involved but no specialized equipment is needed) and my husband has completed a number of these.  My newly married sister got a little panicked by the heights so she and my brother-in-law left early and went and did their own thing.  My two brothers and other sister made it nearly to the top but there was some snow near the top that they had to skirt around and it was very steep so they didn't quite make it.  Hubby however did make it to the top so he was happy.  He did wish that the others had been able to make it as well but he was glad that they knew their limits and no one got so panicked that they had to be rescued. 

While they were doing this the children and I and one of my brothers went into Banff.  We walked around Bow Falls and let the kids set the pace.  We then went to the Cave and Basin historic site to see the origin of the hot springs.  It was closed for renovations but we did do some short self-interpretive hikes around there that explained the history of the Banff Hot Springs.  The weather was finally nice and warm this day so then we went to Cascade Ponds for a picnic lunch and we relaxed on the beach while the girls played in the water and sand.  
The girls on the boardwalk of a self-interpretive hike.
Playing in the sand at Cascade Pond.
At Cascade Pond
And I had to include a picture of my son.  He was very good the whole trip.  Here he kept trying to eat the sand.

Day 7: July 16 2010.  We packed up camp and drove to Brooks, Alberta where we had booked a hotel room.  A nine hour drive the first day was okay but after a week of camping we didn't want to drive nine hours all the way back in one day.  The hotel was nice and we could get cleaned up after a week of smelling like woodsmoke.  We enjoyed the hot tub, pool and water slide and ordered pizza to eat in our hotel room.

Day 8: July 17, 2010.  We took advantage of the hotels free breakfast, and jumped in the pool for one more swim before heading home.  We arrived home in the mid-afternoon and immediately started unpacking.

There that's our trip.  It was a lot of fun and well worth the effort it took.  Banff really is a beautiful place and while we did encounter some crowds it wasn't too bad.  We saw a grizzly bear along the road one day and a few mountain sheep.  We also made a game of looking at all the license plates we saw.  We saw 26 state plates (including Hawaii), 7 provinces, and 2 territories.  Hmmm, where should we go on our camping trip next summer?


  1. glad you had a good time!!

  2. Hello! I ran across your blog as I am planning a trip to Banff this summer with my husband and a 1 year old. Your trip caught my eye as you also have kids. What campsite did you stay at? Would you recommend it? Thanks!