Nature has its way of humbling me. It’s why I yearn to go into it so often. Growing up outside of New York City, the city was my comfort zone and nature always made me a bit uncomfortable. In my adult years, however, it’s become my sanctuary and place of solace. It smacks me awake and makes me realize my insignificance in a world that often leads us to believe this life is for us and us alone. Surrounded by nature, I’ve made many of my most important life decisions. Nature is everything to me and I need a healthy dose of it in my life.
That’s why I was so looking forward to spending some time in the Canadian Rockies. After returning our #BringBackWildhood RV, Brendan and I picked up a rental car and decided to explore. Nature always blows me away, but there was something extra special about the Canadian Rockies: they were magical. Everywhere I turned, I could feel their presence looking down on me; I couldn’t help but feel small. That’s my favorite part about nature, when I’m immersed in it, I realize my problems don’t really matter.
For a little over a week, we made our way to four of the five parks located in the Canadian Rockies. While we didn’t get to do as much hiking or adventuring I would have liked, I can see myself making my way back to this part of the world again one day, and when I do, I’m sure I’ll fall for the beauty of the mountains again, just the way I did on this trip.
Waterton National Park
On our last day with the RV, Brendan and I headed to Waterton National Park to take in the park’s natural beauty. It was the perfect introduction to the Rockies, especially considering the amount of animals we saw. Our first stop was to check out Waterton Lake and the famous Prince of Wales Hotel. I loved wandering the driftwood covered shore of the lake and taking in my first views of the Rockies.
From here, we made our way to Cameron Falls and saw a fawn on our way. After admiring the falls, we decided to head to Red Rock Canyon. On our drive there, we saw four bears, two of which were cubs. It was busy at the Canyon, so we took a quick little hike around the area before moving on.
We headed for the Bison Paddock Loop, and while I was excited for bison, the main attraction here was a prairie dog who was just sitting there posing for us. The bison were all resting far away from the road, though I didn’t mind. Last September I saw plenty of bison while driving through Yellowstone National Park. Our time in the park was brief, but in our short amount of time, I thought we saw a fair amount.
Banff National Park
If I had to pick a favorite park in the Rockies, it would be Banff. There was just something about that initial drive in that got me hooked. But, the beauty continued the more time we spent there. One of our first stops was a hike in Johnston Canyon. It was less of a hike and more of a walk on a path, but it was beautiful. There were metal pathways affixed to the walls, which made me a bit nervous, but it was worth it for the views. We arrived at the Lower Falls and it was so crowded that there was a line to get in, so we skipped right to the Upper Falls; it was worth the extra mileage.
We spent the rest of our time in the park, hopping from site to site. We had a dinner picnic at Lake Louise and then headed to Moraine Lake for sunset. It was one of my favorite places in the entire Canadian Rockies. Another favorite was Peyto Lake. We stopped there early one morning on our way to Jasper.
Every lake in the Rockies has its own color, but this milky turquoise stuck out in my mind. I could have spent a few hours soaking in the nature here, but we had places to go. Throughout our time in Banff, we really just drove around stopping at different sites we wanted to along the way, which is the way to do it. That or hiking, of course.
Jasper National Park
After Banff, we made our way to Jasper National Park for more impressive views, massive mountains, and beautiful lakes. My first taste of the park was Athabasca Glacier, which is part of the largest ice field in the Rockies. Brendan and I took an Ice Explorer vehicle onto the glacier, which was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Afterwards, we made our way to the Glacier Skywalk, a glass walkway over the alpine. While I was nervous about it, it was amazing to be able to see the mountains in a completely different way.
Then, we visited Maligne Cayon, and I wasn’t expecting it to make me feel as small as I did. Sure, we were observing it from above, but it was deep and I could imagine it swallowing me whole. The walk along the canyon provided incredible views, especially of an impressive waterfall carving its way through the rock.
After Maligne Canyon, we made our way to Medicine Lake and then Maligne Lake. Both were beautiful, though very different from the lakes we saw in Banff. They weren’t crazy colors, but they were still beautiful, especially since they reflected the beauty of the surrounding natural beauty.
We couldn’t find a place to stay our first night in the park, so we camped out at Pyramid Lake, and that was probably the best decision. Not only did we have total peace and quiet, but we also got to watch the sun rise over Pyramid Mountain with almost no one else around. It made me appreciate my time in the park even more.
We only had two days in Jasper and they were short days. This is definitely a place I’d want to visit again and spend significant time in. But, I do feel like we used our time in the park wisely and got in as much of the sites as we could.
Yoho National Park
We crossed the border into British Colombia one day so that we could visit Yoho National Park. Here, we had lunch at Emerald Lake Lodge and wandered the area admiring the lake. Never had I seen water this color, although I could say that about almost every lake in the Canadian Rockies.
On the overcast afternoon, the Lodge was the ideal escape. The decor took me back in time a bit, and the food was delicious and very vegetarian-friendly. Brendan and I split the cheese plate and then he had fish tacos, while I had the zucchini soup special and a maple beer.
After a very leisurely lunch, we drove towards Takakkaw Falls, which are among the highest in Canada. They were impressive and we were able to get quite close. The park was busy due to the summer and we had to pack in a lot on the day we visited Yoho, so we didn’t get to see or do much else. Again, it’s a place I know I’ll return to one day.
Honestly, no matter where I went in the Canadian Rockies, I was impressed. We didn’t see quite as many animals as I had hoped we would and the parks were very busy, as it was the summer, but it didn’t matter. The beauty of nature constantly around us made me grateful for the fact that I get to be a part of this amazing world and experience so much of it.
Pin this for later!
We were guests of the Emerald Lake Lodge and Brewster Travel Canada, but that in no way affected my experience. As always, all views and opinions are my own.