The Canadian Rockies Pt 4: Banff Springs

Finally – the last leg of our Canadian adventure! From Jasper, we headed to Banff Springs via Athabasca Falls and Moraine Lake – stops we had missed earlier in the trip.

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At Moraine Lake… more beautiful water and mountains!

We arrived at the Fairmont Banff Springs in the late afternoon, pretty tired from the drive back down the Icefields Parkway. This hotel was by far my favorite – a 100+ year old castle with a wonderful mix of European influences. Wikipedia says it’s a “Scottish baronial style,” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for what it’s worth.

Joe and I decided to take it easy for the rest of the evening, having dinner at the Bow Valley Grill within the hotel and enjoying the perfect views of the mountains outside.

The next morning, we were ready for another big hike and headed to Johnston Canyon to begin. The Banff website says this is the busiest trail in the Canadian Rockies. I definitely believe it. If you can deal with the hordes, though, it’s definitely a very well-done, worthwhile trail/catwalk to see the Lower Falls, and then hike up to the Upper Falls.

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We decided to dart away from the crowds and continue on past the Upper Falls to the Inkpots – a set of five glacier-fed pools a few more miles away. It was a mildly challenging forest hike with uphills, downhills, and some nice views along the way. After the hustle and bustle of the canyon crowds, we appreciated the peace and quiet on this trail!

After our [longer than expected] hike, we were ravenous. We stopped in downtown Banff to find some food… and ended up at a small but delicious Japanese restaurant called Chaya. Though it’s very small and servers are not the friendliest, the ramen and rice definitely hit the spot. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for last souvenirs and relaxing around the hotel… bliss! Joe and I rented a golf cart to explore the famous Stanley Thompson golf course, which was a wonderful treat.

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We celebrated our last evening together with an amazing meal at the top-rated (by Open Table) restaurant in town, The Bison. It was very good! The meat and cheese appetizer platter was enough to feed a family of four. I enjoyed every bite. 😀

We left for Calgary the next morning after last photos and a final walk around the hotel/castle. It was finally time to go home… even though I didn’t want to leave! It was truly an unforgettable vacation from start to finish. O Canada!!!  I’m your newest fan.

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