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Falen's Banff National Park Itinerary, Revs and Pics

I booked this trip months back because I saw a flight deal through Thrifty Traveler.

We stayed at the Hidden Ridge Resort, and it was nice. It wasn’t super fancy, but it had a great hot tub/heated pool with a great view. It’s just a bit higher up from Banff Town. I see the benefits of staying right in Banff Town-easy to walk around to restaurants and shops, but I liked our spot which was a bit quieter. We never had issues with parking. I know that as the summer goes on, that might not be the case. We happened to be in town the week right before the end of the school year. I think it was a perfect week. Things were busy, but not crazy at all, and the weather was good. Our first day was the best weather day. It was about 60 degrees. Other days it was 40-50. Being from MN, this wasn’t an issue for us. It was chillier and rainy early in the morning, but around 1p, it would get sunny pretty consistently. We saw every type of weather while there including snow.

We flew in on Thursday evening, checked in and grabbed a quick dinner because we had a VERY early morning. You can no longer drive to Moraine Lake, so a month or so ago, I logged into the Parks Canada website to reserve an Alpine Pass to visit the lake. It was such a confusing website, but that was the cheapest option. There are other bus options you can pay for to get into Moraine Lake, but we chose the Alpine Shuttle for a shot at seeing the sunrise over the mountains. We got up at 2a.m. and started our drive to Lake Louise. That’s where the shuttle picks you up. It was a little under an hour drive from Banff Town, and we saw elk first thing on our way which was super cool. We parked, loaded onto the shuttle and had another 30 minute ride to Moraine Lake. Then we walked over to the “Rockpile” which is the popular viewing area. We sat and waited for about an hour with no luck of a “perfect sunrise”, but it was gorgeous regardless.

THAT ended up not being the highlight though. A grizzly bear was right in the lot where the busses park. We watched it forever. This was partially because we were ready to leave by 6a, but the shuttle back didn’t start until 7a, SO we stood in the cold and watched the grizzly. He was a young male, and it was awesome. There was a park ranger there to make sure people stayed safe.

We finally got back to Lake Louise where we grabbed some pics and headed to get breakfast. We drove over to the Trailhead Café. I got the bagel breakfast sandwich, and it was really good. Jake and Dillon got the traditional breakfast and wished they’d gotten what I got.

Photo: John Wolfsohn

We went back to Lake Louise, and parking was still easy to find.

Then we began our hike to Little Beehive. It starts at Lake Louise. Jake carried Olive on his back, and he needed a lot of breaks. I don’t know how he does it. I will say this hike was much easier for me than previous difficult hikes in previous years. I’m guessing my weight loss has helped a bit with that. The hike was a harder than I read about. There were still some slick/wet/muddy parts from the recent snow melt. I don’t think this is a great hike with kids unless they’re older than Olive and can truly hike or smaller than Olive if you’re packing the kid on your back. If you’re a beast and hike a lot, I’m sure it wouldn’t be an issue in the least.

The view was stunning, and we stopped at the famous Tea House on the way back down. We grabbed some biscuits and sandwiches and sat by Lake Agnes. It was still quite frozen. On our hike back down it started snowing for a bit, and it was honestly quite magical.

Did I mention I packed in a lot on day 1? Next we drove over to the Lake Louise Gondola. A lot of people recommended this. Controversial take here…I have no idea why. I felt like it was a waste of money. If you can’t hike/don’t want to…have small kids and want a view higher up, then go for it, but I’d save the money if not. I read online before going it’s a great spot to see wildlife. All we saw was this taxidermy wolverine…

I’m happy we had all this planned on day 1. As I mentioned it was by far our best weather day.

Day 1:

Alpine Shuttle to See Moraine Lake Sunrise

Lake Louise

Little Beehive Hike

Tea House-Lake Agnes

Lake Louise Gondola

On Day 2, we started later lol. I booked breakfast at Bluebird which was a suggestion from a local. It was AMAZING! We all loved it. Highly recommend!

Then we headed out to Yoho National Park to see Wapta Falls. We didn’t have any intention of hiking down, so we went to a lookout point I saw you can find if you go on the other side of where the trail head is. It was about 8km down a drive-able but gravel road called Beaverfoot Rd.
Seeing the falls up close is probably amazing as well!

Next we hit Emerald Lake. Everyone says it’s a must hit, and it was very beautiful. It’s also a cheaper spot ($90 lol) to rent a canoe and get the red canoe on beautiful blue water photos. (Cheaper than Lake Louise and Moraine Lake-the popular spots for those pics)

Next we stopped at Takkakaw Falls. It was just a quick stop.

We didn’t have a park pass for Yoho park, and we didn’t realize it until we were leaving they have spots to get them if you pull over on the side of the road. The U.S. has stands keeping you from entering the park unless you have one, so I felt awful when I realized that. There wasn’t a spot going to Lake Louise either, BUT we did have the Banff Park Pass I got online prior to going. I assumed I’d just get YOHO at the gate.

Anyway, next was Peyto Lake. That was the only area where we saw a stand before entering a park the entire time we were there. They checked our pass before entering the area. It was quite a drive and a little, but very doable hike from the parking lot. AND WOW! It was stunning. We also saw mountain goats on the way there!

Then we stopped at Bow Lake on the way back down. It was only 5-10 minutes away from Peyto. We thought there was no way it would compare to Peyto, but we stopped in their little gift shop and had the best treat of the entire trip. They said their baker studied in Sweden to learn to make these. I took one bite, and we went back in and got 2 more before leaving.

You could continue from this area to go to Jasper National Park, but we didn’t have the time to do it on this trip sadly.

We ended the evening with Dinner in Banff Town at Three Bears Brewery. It was one of the most recommended restaurants, and it was so great. I highly recommend!

Day 2:

Wapta Falls

Emerald Lake

Takkakaw Falls

Peyto Lake

Bow Lake

Day 3 we went the opposite direction. We headed to Canmore and grabbed bagels at The Rocky Mountain Bagel Company. They only serve apple fritters on the weekend I guess, and Jake said it was a top 3 fritter. The bagel sandwiches were great. We hit the Grassi Lake trail thanks to Megan who emailed me last week. It wasn’t even on my radar, and it was such a great tip. (Just enter Grassi Lake in the GPS-I’m not sure what we put in at first, but it took us to a lake elsewhere, and on the way back down I saw the Grassi Lake signs…I was like wait what?! Thank goodness we saw those.) It was a great hike for kids. Truth be told, I started my lady time a week early which wasn’t ideal. I was crabby, it was rainy, and it was an easy hike. I wanted to just get there, but Olive wanted to stop every 10 seconds to rest or look at something. I was so frustrated. I wasn’t my best self. I think it’s important to share because it can look like it was so happy and easy the whole time. BUT she’s 4 ½, and we all get crabby at times, BUT we made it to the lakes finally-there are 2 right next to each other, and they are SO pretty.

A lot of people suggest staying in Canmore because it’s about 20 minutes away from Banff Town, and it’s much cheaper. I didn’t want to add additional drive time, so we didn’t, but it’s an option. After that we went back in town and did some shopping. We had dinner at Bluebird since we liked their breakfast so much, and it was also great.

Day 3:


Grassi Lakes

Shopping in Banff Town

Day 4

We grabbed a quick bite at Wild Flour. I really liked it. I drank hot lattes the whole time which was very abnormal for me. Jake started feeling under the weather too, so that wasn’t great. We got our pic by the Banff sign and drove to Johnston Canyon. That was by far the busiest spot we hit. It felt busier because the path is decently narrow to get there. We only did the lower falls.

Then we drove to Minnewanka Lake for a boat ride. I definitely recommend, and it has that name similar to Minnesota because they're both from the Dakota Language! The history was so cool to learn about.

Right by that lake is Two Jack Lake, so we stopped for a quick pic!

AND on the way home we saw a black bear! We kept saying we just needed to see a black bear, and then we did! Super cool!

Day 4:

Banff Sign

Johnston Canyon

Minnewanka Lake Cruise

Two Jack Lake

I’m sure we could have squeezed in more, but we got everything in I wanted to check out, and it was just as stunning as all the pics you see.

Other coffee/food spots I hit that were good:

The Uprising, Mountain Folk Coffee Co., Cows Ice Cream, Bison Restaurant (dinner)

I wore leggings and 2 thin long sleeve shirts with a light rain coat each day. I only wore gloves once, and a hat a few times. Same for Olive, but she wore a vest, hat and gloves more than us.

Everything is expensive! It was $100 to fill up a small Nissan SUV lol!

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