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Canada, Cycle Touring, Cycling Across Canada

Cycling Across Canada: Banff and Lake Louise

Cycling across Canada, I had the privilege to see so many stunning places – Banff and Lake Louise, both iconic, were top of my bucketlist of places to spend some quality time!

Lake Louise, also known as the jewel of the Rockies, was my first bucket list stop.  The Hosteling International Lake Louise was like a gift.  The place was packed with a mix of people, including a few other cyclists and tonnes of hikers.  They had live music on the patio when I arrived and the place was full of life.  After living on packaged noodle dishes for the bulk of my adventure, fresh food and drinks with ice cubes (again with the simple pleasures – who knew ice cubes could bring so much joy!!!) was more than I could ask for.  Met a tonne of people, some there to hike and see the Rockies, others just out to see Canada, and found myself by a campfire sharing tales from the road that night.  The cooking facilities at the hostel were excellent and the dorm rooms were fantastic.  It was great to sleep in a bed again!  It was also nice to see that the quality of Hosteling International hostels was consistently good as I travelled across the country.  Having experienced a few of them in Australia – I was glad to see I could rely on the same level of quality.

Hiking in Lake Louise for my rest day was marvellous.  Ended up being the only one on the tour – don’t remember exactly where I went, but it was a great day out.  Nice to get off the bike and stretch my legs as Amy, my guide for the day, told me about hiking in the region and explained the different kinds of bears, and what to do should I ever encounter one!  She also reminded me of how important it is for me to have all my food out of my tent at night and tied in the trees.  Turns out toothpaste is part of the equation, and should also be tied up with the food.  Click these links for more information about hiking in the Lake Louise area and tips for camping in bear country.  Check out Walk Trot Cycle‘s findings on avoiding being eaten by a bear and bear spray!

Map My Ride elevation graph: Lake Louise to Banff – downhill heaven

After a second decadent night at the hostel, it was time to move on to Banff.  The road to town was pure bliss as I raced along at nearly 30km/hr.  The slight downhill keeping me going with little effort.  With less than 6 kilometers to go…..wham…..the heavens opened up, and we are not talking raining cats and dogs – more like elephants and rhinos!  With the HI hostel on the other side of town and no end in sight for the rain, I quickly canceled my room and switched to the Global Village hostel in town (now known as SameSun).  Big mistake!  I was not looking for the never ending drinkfest!  With all the riding I was doing, I would have found myself under the table in no time if I tried to keep up with these seasoned backpackers!  Cheap drinks and late night parties were all the rage.  It was a great location, but for the travel I was doing, not what I was looking for!  Never-the-less, I was there for 2 nights.

Another rest day – another mountain to climb.  Headed off to hike up Sulphur Mountain.  The trailhead began at the Banff Upper Hot Springs parking lot at the end of Mountain Avenue, with a steady grade and well graded trail, 5.5 km to the top and the Sulphur Mountain Gondola.  Only took a few hours to climb and I have to say, riding the gondola to the bottom was a welcome break for my weary legs.  The views at the top were breathtaking – you have views of 6 mountain ranges from the top.

The switchbacks on the slopes of Sulphur Mountain provide a steady grade for the hike to a summit renowned for its breathtaking mountain views. Take a 1 km side trip on the boardwalk trail that departs from the Observation Deck and you will find more great views, remnants of the Cosmic Ray Station, and the Sanson Peak Weather Observatory.

No trip to Banff is complete without a visit to the majestic castle in the mountains – the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  Needless to say, on my trans Canada budget – this iconic hotel was not in my budget – hot apple cider on the back deck, enjoying the amazing views, was!  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hotel was built in 1888 and is regarded as the birthplace of tourism in the Canadian Rockies.  The history of this exclusive destination is quite interesting – check out The Castle in the Rockies for more information.

About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


52 thoughts on “Cycling Across Canada: Banff and Lake Louise

  1. Gorgeous shot of Lake Louise, Anita.

    Posted by Jane Lurie | March 7, 2012, 8:53 am
  2. Your new lil friend is so gorgeous 🙂 Breathtaking photos, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Posted by wolke205 | March 7, 2012, 8:57 am
  3. I miss Banff, was there a few years ago. Sure do miss it 🙂 cute lil friend 😀

    Posted by andy1076 | March 7, 2012, 9:01 am
  4. The photos are marvelous, Anita. Either of the two landscape photos could have been posted alone on their own Merit, ditto for the castle. I snooped out of curiosity to see what the cost might be for a night there. LOL, I guess they figure, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. They are no doubt right, in my case. Anyway, just to let you know, I enjoyed another of your fine posts. Looks like you enjoyed your trip cycling through those lovely mountains.

    Posted by orples | March 7, 2012, 9:06 am
    • I think you are right on cost – I didn’t even take a peek! One of these days I will stay there! Will be only to thrilled to share the experience!

      Posted by Anita Mac | March 8, 2012, 2:50 pm
      • That castle looks like one of those $2,500.00 a night deals to me, especially for a 2 bedroom suite. Nice to think somebody can afford such luxury. LOL. You look like you’re a happy camperette without all of the frills. That is what is important.

        Posted by orples | March 8, 2012, 2:55 pm
  5. Amazing place!

    I thought of that while riding my bicycle….
    ~ Albert Einstein

    Posted by Dugutigui | March 7, 2012, 9:11 am
  6. The colour of the water is just amazing! I was planning a trip to this area this summer but it looks like it’s going to have to go on hold until next spring now, but thanks for the useful tips!

    Posted by Lucy Dodsworth | March 7, 2012, 9:18 am
  7. What a fantastic journey you are having, those views and photo’s are beyond belief if one has not witnessed them for real. But you have brought them to us to enjoy. 😉

    Posted by cobbies69 | March 7, 2012, 9:45 am
  8. Amazing post Anita! Gorgeous pictures.

    Posted by drawandshoot | March 7, 2012, 10:34 am
  9. Beautiful photos and Beautiful Country to explore:) Thanks for sharing and Have a Great Day!

    Posted by cravesadventure | March 7, 2012, 11:40 am
  10. That first picture is just so captivating and gorgeous! I would love for you to enter our photo contests some time! Here’s a link to a post of the last several winners: http://dslrfairytale.com/2012/03/07/favorite-fairytale-photos-contest-winners-from-janfeb/#comments

    Posted by mrspedigrew | March 7, 2012, 1:15 pm
  11. Beautiful photos. I was actually there when I was 6 year old… A LONG time ago. It’s so fun to see the hotel again after so many years.

    Posted by ekhaugli | March 7, 2012, 2:59 pm
  12. LOVE Banff! I have stayed at that hotel twice. Both times have been for conferences, so I haven’t had much time to explore. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by travelwithlaughter | March 7, 2012, 9:07 pm
    • Oh – you are so lucky! I have never stayed at the Banff Springs – can only attest to the high quality apple cider and amazing surroundings! I did contemplate having a fancy dinner when I was there – but with my RTW budget, sadly it was out of my price range! Fingers crossed for a work conference one of these years!

      Posted by Anita Mac | March 8, 2012, 2:49 pm
  13. Jealous! I’ve been wanting to go to banff for years now. definitely on the list for so many reasons, cycling among them.

    Posted by Karen | March 7, 2012, 10:08 pm
  14. Just look at that aquamarine lake!

    Posted by themofman | March 7, 2012, 10:14 pm
  15. Stunning scenery and what a precious traveling companion! My husband is yearning to take me to Canada to explore his roots and see such extraordinary settings. Thanks for more inspiration to go there!

    Posted by Tricia A. Mitchell | March 7, 2012, 10:30 pm
  16. Beautiful lake!

    Posted by sojourner | March 8, 2012, 10:45 am
  17. Banff and Lake Louise really are that photogenic and AWESOME. It’s truly something to put on your “bucket list”. The drive (or bike ride!) between Lake Louise and Jasper is a non-stop jaw dropping overload of turquoise lakes, rugged grey peaks, dark green pine forests and white glaciers. Even the poorest of poor photographers can take good images – all you’ve got to do is point and shoot! The scenery is that good. And for those cyclist out there – put the Icefields Parkway on your “bucket list” it’s one of the most scenic drives in the world. http://www.icefieldsparkway.ca/

    Posted by Information Centre | March 8, 2012, 12:50 pm
    • I met a number of people who did the Icefields Parkway – I wish I could have done it on this trip – I agree – a bucketlist destination for sure! Just waiting for the chance to get out there and do it again!

      Posted by Anita Mac | March 8, 2012, 2:44 pm
  18. Reblogged this on All About Travel.

    Posted by Anje Vela | March 9, 2012, 10:15 am
  19. Looks and sounds wonderful. I’m very envious!

    Posted by Kathryn | March 9, 2012, 3:41 pm
  20. Aw, I grew up right outside Banff and Lake Louise! These pics really take me back there– the only thing I miss about Calgary was being so close to the Rockies. 😉

    Posted by Dana | March 9, 2012, 7:33 pm
  21. Cycling across Canada!?
    Wow, that’s really amazing!

    The little chipmunk is sooooo cute! 🙂
    Can I take it home? Ha ha…

    Posted by London Caller | March 10, 2012, 8:22 am
  22. These are the sort of views that would make me park my bike! Just beautiful scenery.

    Posted by PC PHOTO | March 12, 2012, 6:55 pm
  23. What a beautiful area, Banff and Lake Louise, breathtaking images.. ; )

    Posted by dianne - "life as i see it" - "just because" | March 18, 2012, 7:20 pm
  24. This is one of my favorite places that I’ve been to! I would love to cycle through Banff! You’re really making me want to do a biking trip! Thanks for the travel inspiration!

    Posted by ashleypaige4 | March 22, 2012, 12:54 am
  25. Fantastic pictures! I visited Banff a few years ago and I was lucky enough to stay in the Banff springs. I can honestly say it was one of the best holidays I have been on, I went in winter and learnt to drive a snowmobile! 😀

    Posted by Andréa Avena | April 25, 2012, 1:07 pm
  26. I’ve always wanted to visit Canada and your travels are inspiring me…Thanks for writing!

    Posted by the usual bliss | April 25, 2012, 3:14 pm
  27. I miss Lake Louise. I loved there on and off for four years. Such a beautiful part of the world.

    Posted by Lesley | April 25, 2012, 6:57 pm
  28. Banff has been on my bucket list way too damn long!!! I just need to get my arse up there! 🙂

    Posted by outdoorcanvas | April 30, 2012, 11:00 am
  29. Great post, we went to Banff in September. Posted some great pics – http://bit.ly/K1Bkyy

    Posted by leescarter | May 20, 2012, 9:52 pm


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