Unexpected Road Trips In The Canadian Rockies

I arrived in Banff, Alberta, after an amazing week experiencing the province of Manitoba and there was one thing on the agenda for me… getting a job. However, my momentum to find work was stalled after I met a group of girls in my hostel who had much more exciting plans for exploration in the Canadian Rockies.

sunshine meadows, hiking canada

One of them had a car and in this part of the country, where most places are impossible to reach via public transport, this makes seeing the sights much easier.

Ah, I can wait another week until I start looking for a job…

Days of incredible trips ensued.

Road trip 1: Sunshine Meadows

Shimmering lakes, a multi-coloured concentration of wild flowers and mountain views made Sunshine Meadows one of my favourite places visited in the Rockies.

There was a return bus ride from the car park needed in order to reach the base-point to start the hike, which cost around $30, but it was worth every penny.

This area is often referred to as the prettiest alpine setting in the Canadian Rockies.

We took a 10km round-trip, but there is also an option to hike 29km to Mount Assiniboine.

Road trip 2: Paradise Valley and the Giant Steps

This 20km hike was located behind Lake Louise and passed through the incredibly beautiful Paradise Valley, with the feature point at 10km being the Giant Steps waterfall.

Although this was the location where I managed to lose my second camera in two weeks, it was my favourite hike of all. The views, the lack of people, the sensation of being lost in nature and the slight feeling of danger all made this a highlight.

Because this was a high-risk trail in terms of the chances of running into a grizzly, it was illegal to hike with a group of less than four. However people clearly ignored this law as we spotted a couple.

Road trip 3: Lake hopping and Takakkaw Falls

Visiting one of the turquoise lakes in the Rockies is enough to leave you standing there staring blissfully for a long duration. I was happy to visit several during one day.

Lake Louise was first on the itinerary and it is just as stunning in reality as it appears to be in all of the photographs.

However, for me, Moraine Lake was much prettier…

The bluest of all was Emerald Lake across the border in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.

But my favourite was Peyto Lake. Why? It felt more natural seeing a lake that was not filled with canoes. It was a stunning early evening setting when we reached here and there was an opportunity to enjoy views from above and also at lake level.

We would not have known that it was possible to hike down to the lake unless a couple of local people had mentioned to us that there was an off-trail path.

I got to visit Takakkaw Falls – the largest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies – which is also over the border in Yoho. Despite it being a dribble compared with the likes of Niagara Falls, this was my favourite waterfall in Canada. We got really close and the spray of glacial water was wonderfully refreshing.

Delaying finding a job might not have been the most sensible decision, but even with the benefit of hindsight, it was so worth it!



    • September 21, 2012 / 01:48

      Cheers, I think so too :-)

    • September 21, 2012 / 01:47

      Thank you Leigh. If you get to Peyto Lake, make sure you hike down to lake level.

  1. September 18, 2012 / 16:54

    BEAUTIFUL photos reminds me of how lucky I am to live so close to Banff, now I need to get out and do some hiking!
    Claire recently posted..WritingMy Profile

    • September 21, 2012 / 01:45

      Get out there Claire ha ha! You’re very lucky indeed :-)

  2. September 19, 2012 / 16:35

    Such a beautiful place. Been to Alberta but didn’t go to Banff. Looking at these stunning and breathtaking photos, it makes you feel as if you missed out on something. Brilliant set of images.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Red Fort of Delhi – Lal QilaMy Profile

    • September 21, 2012 / 01:40

      Thank you so much Shalu! Banff National Park has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited.

  3. September 21, 2012 / 01:52

    Funnily enough i quit my job to take off to Yukon with a guy i met. I love the oppotunities that come your way when you least expect it. Your photos look lovely. I’m hoping to head to Banff to find work so we’ll see how much luck i have. Great post. Happy travels
    Michelle Goes Global recently posted..WarningMy Profile

    • September 26, 2012 / 18:44

      Being spontaneous is always fun and can lead to some of the best experiences!

  4. September 22, 2012 / 00:08

    Wow, beautiful lakes, mountains, beautiful trees, beautiful pictures. Everything looks stunning.

  5. September 24, 2012 / 22:14

    We spent a year living and working in Jasper and loved it. It was stynning! You will have to teu and make it there fton Banff :) Peyto lake was one of mt favourites, beber mafe it to emrald lake though that looks stunning to. Did you see any beats? We saw a couple out hunting but nevr a Grizzly thank gos.

  6. September 24, 2012 / 22:20

    We lived in Jasper for a year and loved it, you will have to try and get there from Banff as it is stunning :) Peyto lake was my favourite. Did you see any bears out walking? We only saw a couple and not Grizzlys thank god. Loved the pics.

    • September 26, 2012 / 18:39

      Hi Adela, I didn’t make it to Jasper and am over in Toronto now. Another time maybe as I’ve heard good things about it. Glad Peyto was your fave too, I think it’s not as well known but the setting feels more natural. I saw a black bear at the side of the road in Banff, but no grizzlies. I would have been terrified if saw one while out hiking. If didn’t have bear bells, would sing really loudly!

  7. October 7, 2012 / 13:07

    Um wow!!.. That is all.

    Ok well not all. That blue lake is incredibly stunning and I can only imagine how much better it looks in person.
    Andrew recently posted..I love Belgian beerMy Profile

    • October 7, 2012 / 19:05

      I’ve met people who’ve visited Emerald Lake on a dull day and were like “it wasn’t that blue when I was there”. Think I was lucky it was so sunny and the blue was at its brightest :-)