- Banff National Park,
- British Columbia,
- Kootenay National Park,
- North America
In June we are driving 33 hours from Indianapolis, IN to camp in Banff National Park. We hope to fish, hike, kayak, eat, and explore the Park and surrounding areas. Along the way we will visit the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The the way back we plan to stop in the Black Hills to visit Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park.
See + Do
Upper Hot Springs, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1K2, Canada
Tel: 403 762 1515
Even before their "discovery" in 1884, the hot springs at the foot of Sulphur Mountain were considered sacred (and darn comfortable) by natives. Its sulfur-scented waters get as hot as 116 degrees coming out of the bedrock, but the spring-fed outdoor pool at the spa is kept at a milder 104 and 105 degrees. The Banff Upper Hot Springs, as they're officially known, now features a spa, large dressing rooms, restaurant, gift shop, and, most endearing, a grand bathhouse restored to its original, 1932 appearance. Entry fee is around U.S. $7.
Open daily 9 am to 11 pm.
See + Do
Kootenay National Park, Alberta, Canada
Tel: 250 347 9615
Located just west of the Alberta border, this 543-square-mile park contains the Radium Hot Springs mineral pool (5420 Highway 93; 250-347-9485) and Stanley Glacier's hiking trails. Due to bridge repairs (expected to be complete by the end of summer 2007), the roaring waters of the ice-carved Marble Canyon are off-limits, but the nearby Paint Pots—a stunning trio of red, orange, and yellow ponds colored by oxide-rich springs—are currently accessible just off the highway. Most visitors take in this park's sweeping landscapes through their car windows as they drive along Highway 93, so even when tourists inundate the surrounding areas (all summer), the foot-traveled parts of Kootenay remain relatively serene and undisturbed.
See + Do
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Tel: 780 852 6176
Encompassing the alpine meadows of Mount Edith Cavell, the surging Sunwapta Falls, the awe-inspiring Athabasca Glacier (which is easily accessible from the Icefields Parkway, but is melting more every year), and the waters of Miette Hot Springs, this Rocky Mountain park is almost as large as Connecticut. About four hours north of Banff, it's one of North America's most-visited backpacking areas, thanks to its network of well-maintained hiking trails. Other local activities include white-water rafting, canoeing, skiing, horseback riding, and golf at the excellent Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (Old Lodge Road; 780-852-3301; www.fairmont.com/jasper). Many hotels and resorts are clustered in the town of Jasper, but lodges and campgrounds are scattered throughout the rest of the park as well.
See + Do
Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada
Banff, Alberta T1L 1H5, Canada
Tel: 403 762 6100
The Banff Centre helps to solidify Banff's claim as the capital of Canadian mountain culture. The Banff Mountain Film Festival (usually held in early November) pioneered the mountain film genre, whether for hard-core mountaineers or armchair wannabes. It offers seminars on such diverse subjects as the "ancient roots" of skiing, the people of China's Altai Mountains, and adventure filmmaking. From May to September, the Centre hosts its own Summer Arts Festival, with more than 200 musical performances, art exhibitions, and theater shows spread out over the tourist season. Since its founding in 1933, the Centre has also served as a training ground and performance space for dance, music, opera, and other art forms. Check out the schedule online; you might be surprised at what interests you.
See + Do
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Tel: 403 762 1550
With 1.6 million acres of mountain wilderness, more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, and the bustling town of Banff at its center, Banff National Park is the major draw to this region. You could spend months here and never quite experience everything. Of course there's the skiing in winter. And in summer, crystal-blue Lake Louise, a great spot for canoeing, hiking, or simply taking in the views. If getting around on foot or skis isn't your thing, there's always the Bow Valley Parkway—which runs from Banff to Lake Louise. The abundance of bears, elk, and deer, paired with a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit, makes for a safe and relaxing drive-through wildlife watch.