Oh you guys. Im not sure I have held off for so long with sharing my road trip through Banff + Jasper National park but I am SO pumped to share part I with you all. A little back story on our journey. Kyle and I had it all figured out, we would arrive in Calgary a little late at night and stay the night in Calgary then wake early the next morning, grab our car rental and make our way to Jasper National Park. We figured we would start farther away and save the best for last 😉 Flash forward to the day we were ready to leave and I receive an email stating that my flight was cancelled, however, Kyle did not. We booked our tickets separately so we needed to make sure he was cancelled too and that we could get our flights on the same plane, etc. Turns out there were some bad storms between NYC + Toronto that kept us grounded. We received a discount for a hotel and stayed in Alexandria so we could watch up at 4 in the morning and catch our early morning flight. We ended up losing the money for our one night hotel stay in Calgary and then we had car rental issues. By the time our new flight touched down in Calgary, our car rental dealership would be closed. We booked with a rental in the city rather than at the airport because it saved us well over $600. Crazy, but summer is an expensive time to visit this part of Canada. Thanks tourism. So during our lay over in Ottawa, I made a new reservation that actually somehow saved us about $50 from our original booking so it worked out in the long run.
Now, beyond the craziness of our FIRST day of travel, it was all easy peasy from there. We ended up losing our first day in Jasper with our flight arriving late and it being a 3.5 hour drive from Calgary to our hotel outside of Jasper. Word to the wise, book your accommodating inside the parks EARLY. Everything was sold out and WAY TOO EXPENSIVE by the time we went to book our hotels so we ended up staying about an hour outside of Jasper. Same for Banff but Ill save that info for my Part II. Our first full day in Jasper was wild. We were on a mission. Kyle and I were adamant to see bears. Don’t worry, we mainly wanted to see them from a safe distance or from within our car but we never lucked out. Everyone else got to see bears, not us though 😉 . Our first 10 minutes in the park we saw a little family of caribou. At first we thought we were seeing moose and I almost cried but then we got closer and saw that they were in fact NOT moose. Still cute though. Also, a little side note, there were multiple wild fires going on in British Columbia which had the smoke in the air. It was really bad our first two days before a few rain storms help level things out. Sometimes it was so bad it was hard to breathe. We even saw a wild fire on our way to our Airbnb in Golden.
We had a jam packed day full of saved pins on google map of places we wanted to see. We made the long trek to Maligne Lake in hopes of seeing Spirit Island, but, you either have to hike for a few hours or rent a boat to get there and we were not spending that ridiculous amount of money or time to see it. So we spent an hour or so enjoying the lake views, not much to see with all of the smoke but it was wild. Kyle even walked into the lake. I teased him because he said it was TOO cold to actually submerge himself haha.
After getting to see Maligne lake and Maligne canyon, we made it a mission to find a lake, post our hammocks up, swim and relax while having a beer or two. After two failed attemps at lakes we saw via google maps, we found the perfect spot with a little beach. Kyle was right, the water was cold but it was refreshing after all of the sweat that fell from the body throughout the day.
The sunsets were CRAZY. You could stare right at the sun and not be phased because the smoke was so thick. It gave everything that fiery hue. It was warm but cool. It was crazy to experience and its even harder to describe. I feel like I can almost smell the smoke just by looking at this.
On the drive into Jasper we saw a lot of people pulled off and walking into the middle of a lake. The water level came up to just below your knees. We passed on the way in and decided we would check it out on our way back out of the park. It was awesome. The water was FREEZING. Like, I am fairly certain that Kyle and I both lost feeling in our toes Ha. The water was this milky white and you really could just walk right into the middle of this bad boy. We spent a lot of time here and probably gave a few other tourists some laughs because we were having our own little photoshoot with each other. Worth it!
The next day was my favorite in Jasper. We had to make our way down to our hotel just outside of Banff in the cute little town of Golden. We made a few stops at other places in Jasper on our way down. We stopped at this BEAUTIFUL lake, Horseshoe lake. People come here and jump off of the cliffs into the lake. We stopped here for a few hours. We popped our hammocks up and just took in the views. The smoke gave this lake an eerie feeling and I was ALL about it. So quite and peaceful. When Kyle and I were starting to nap, some fellow travelers showed up and starting jumping off the cliffs. Ive never been more upset to not have my bathing suit on because it looked like so much fun!
Our next stop was at the stunning Athabasca falls . The Athabasca river flows through the valley from the Athabasca glacier and it has many falls along its route. This one was rather crowded and I did learn that if one needs to go to the bathroom when visiting a water fall, do so before you reach said waterfall.
We decided to stop at Peyto lake while we were venturing down (even though we would drive back by it the following day). We weren’t sure if we would have better weather the next day so we said screw it and made the stop. It was raining off and all all day so we made it work. This is a stunning blue lake that was even blue and vibrant on the cloudiest, smoke-filled day. You have to hike UP hill for about 10 minutes before you reach the over look but it was WORTH the sweat.
Part I was a stunner, ayy? Part II is going to be EVEN BETTER.