Friday, December 10, 2010

Banff and Jasper Trip Part 12: Lake Louise and Banff

Read about other parts of the trip: (Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Pt 6, Pt 7, Pt 8, Pt 9, Pt 10, Pt 11)

At the end of the last post I finished describing the places that I visited along the Icefields Highway, which in the south ends at Lake Louise. Today the story picks up in that location, where I spent two days.

Lake Louise

I stayed in the Lake Louise campground, which is on the east side of the small village. The village of Lake Louise is mostly made of up of hotels and rental homes for visitors, who come during all seasons for the year for various reasons. Lake Louise itself is just a few minutes drive from the village, the best viewing hours are before 10am and after 3PM, during which time there are many tourists crowding the area. I arrived shortly after 9AM and the area was quiet, although it was rather cold at 3ºC.

There are several hotels right by the lake, and one of them is the famous Fairmount: Chateau Lake Louise. Spending a night in this hotel costs several hundred dollars, not something the average person could afford. I've heard people rave about this hotel, but it didn't look all that impressive to me, at least from the outside. People on the Lake Louise side of the hotel would have a nice view though, since it is the only hotel with a clear view.

I was far more interested in Lake Louise itself and so I walked down the south side of the lake to the end. You can walk all the way to the glacier, but there are often travel restrictions due to the large number of bears in the area. When there are bears, travelers must walk in groups of 8 or more for safety.

The walk along the shoreline is pleasant and for anyone who doesn't mind the 1 hour long round trip, I'd suggest that you do so when visiting the area. When I got back to the parking area it was after 11AM and the area was packed with tourists, which I was glad to escape from because getting any good shots with so many people around was almost hopeless. The light had gone from soft and overcast to bright and sunny. That was nice because it warmed up to around 17ºC, but wasn't great for shooting the lake.

Banff Alberta, as seen from Mount Norquay

At that point I decided to head east to the city of Banff, were I sent a few hours wondering around town and seeing what there was to see in the area. If you like visiting mountain cities Banff is a nice place, I didn't take much from it other than that is was a crowed tourist trap. While I was above the city, on Mount Norquay, which is where I took the above photo from, I passed a few athletes training for cross country skiing.

Green Space around the Bow River, Banff Alberta

This photo was taken from the small bridge in downtown Banff, which crosses the Bow River on it's way eastward. The green space is part of a park in the middle of the city. I had lunch in the park, which is a nice place to get away from the crowded streets of the city, and all the shopping tourists. Next time I visit this area I'll have to think about taking photos of the cities I visited, as I never took the time to take any photos of the villages themselves.

As you enter or leave the city of Banff, you can take a short drive along the Vermillion Lakes which are to the west of Banff. This was the last place I visited near Banff, so that brings a close to today's entry.