When I was but a preschooler I lived in Edmonton with my family for a year, and we did travel to Banff. However it was so long ago, and well before I appreciated the ability to explore and take in grandiose sights. So when we found ourselves in an RV with Banff in the distance, I was excited to experience it for the “first time”.
We would camp out at an RV park and take the taxi and shuttles to popular tourist sights, as well as enjoy the night out in downtown Banff. The following is a recap of our day within Banff. But for the review of life in an RV, visit the link below.
For any first timer to Banff, a stop at Lake Louise is a must. We would park our RV and pay for a 15 minute shuttle ride to the lake and Fairmont Lake Louise adjacent. According to my travel companions, it use to be far less crowded.
Anywhere you looked and any which way you posed, the lake was a vision. It had no bad angles. We wanted to rent a canoe to better enjoy the lake, but time did not permit. So instead, we took the popular hike from the base of Lake Louise to Lake Agnes up top.
I was happy for the ability to explore Alberta’s ecosystem more, with my new found appreciation for fungi. The above are a few mushrooms I found interesting and have not (yet) seen in British Columbia.
There were also birds I haven’t seen in BC. They were pretty friendly, with a couple willing to be tricked into perching on your open palmed hand.
The hike is 4km+ in either direction. There is no loop. If you insist on going up, know there is only one way down. But it is worth it for the views.
At the mid way mark, everyone stops to admire the pure blue of Lake Louise, from a bird’s eye view.
We took a pit stop at Mirror Lake. A small body of water, semi frozen, under the shadow of a single mountain peak.
And at the very top is the still reflective waters of Lake Agnes.
Along with Agnes is a lone building. This privately owned tea house makes for the ideal spot to stop. A resting point, and the only option for a quick bite and/or tea to warm up with. Though sadly, our visit coincided with their last day of operations for the year. And as a result, they had very little left on menu. This was unbeknownst to all us hungry visitors, and as a result many were willing to pay a ludicrous amount for plain tortilla chips and slices of plain white bread.
Our group wasn’t satisfied with the watery hot chocolate or bland chocolate cake, but ate it with no other options and another 4km to hike to get back down. It is interesting to note that this one way hike is taken by the employees that run this family own tea house. Cut off from regular roads, staff come up with supplies on their backs, and traverse down with bags of garbage in either hand.
Luckily I can attest that going down is way easier than the climb up. And overall this is a moderate hike. I actually found the steep trek up to the outhouses above the tea house more strenuous.
We would conclude our time at and around Lake Louise by using the amenities at the Fairmount. Pausing at its concession and candy shoppe for more substantial snacks.
After taking the shuttle back to the RV, and returning it to our campsite. We would freshen up and take a taxi into downtown Banff for the night.
We took our cab driver’s suggestion and stopped at the Rose N’ Crown sports bar for dinner and drinks. Sadly, it did not hold up for food and drink, but in terms of lively ambiance, it sufficed.
Our group started off with Caesars, the ideal drink for when you are running on an empty stomach, but still want to drink. The cocktail drinks like a meal with clam and tomato juice, and the garnishes offer something to nibble on.
I had to take it one step further with their over the top Caesar. A double fully loaded carat with a bounty of finger foods we ate like appetizers. Two mini burgers, onion rings, bacon, and cherry tomatoes. Honestly it looked better than it tastes. This was pretty basic, which was pretty much the sentiment for all that we had below.
The nachos were a safe bet, but pricy. As typical there were more chips than the cheese and toppings could cover, despite it being named Double Layer Nachos.Two layers of homemade corn chips topped with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, melted cheddar and mozzarella. Served with salsa and sour cream.
The BBQ Chicken Wings were cut and paste. Fried dry, the wings and drumlets were on the smaller size. I only appreciated them for their side of vegetables and ranch dip.
The Poutine was far too salty to be enjoyable. Fries topped with shredded mozzarella, cheddar and cheese curds, smothered in gravy.
At least the round of Vitamin C shots we taught the bar to make was helpful in washing this meal down.
We would follow it with another round at Pump & Tap. 5 for $15 Melon Drops.
And thus concluded our brief stint the Banff. We would only return for supplies and to take a general walk around town. I would definitely like to return one day to better explore the wildlife and nature scene, but for now I had enough for cold Banff.