I had been looking to do something a little out of the ordinary for my next trip.
I had been to Mexico, Florida, Dominican Republic, New York City, and a handful of California cities. It was time to go North. After Thousands of searches on Expedia, Trip Adviser and google images I settled on Banff. The colourful mountain town in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The pictures promised snow-capped mountains, rugged hiking trails, white waters, a vibrant downtown, great restaurants and beautiful if slightly overpriced hotels. I decided to opt for a camping option and started looking for the best camping tent reviews I could find online. I ended up grabbing the MSR Hubba Hubba Tent which is great for backpacking!
I flew into Calgary on a Thursday evening just as the sun was setting over the Rocky Mountains, an hour’s drive towards the west. By the time, I went through customs and picked up my bags it was dark out. I picked up my rental and opted to stay at the closest Double Tree to the airport. I hadn’t been sure when I made my reservations, but now it was dark, was sleepy and wanted to enjoy the drive into the mountains in daylight so I could appreciate the scenery.
I set westward on the #1 TransCanada Highway while it was still dark. As a reward, I drove the 63 miles (110 km by Canadian signage) to Banff as the sun rose behind me filling the sky with pink hues. Despite the green highway sign saying that Banff was only another 27 km I detoured into the inviting-looking town of Canmore. The little town is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
I drove the streets lined with old brick bungalows and into the busy little downtown. Sitting on the patio of a Restaurant called The Summit Cafe I sipped coffee and orange juice as the rising sun warmed my face and I savoured the mountain views. I congratulated myself on my decision to wait out the night in Calgary and make this drive during the day. I left my car parked in front of the cafe and walked around the sunny little town. I crossed a bridge and walked along a river trail for a few moments before I remembered this area was abundant with bears. On my way back to my car I passed a lovely little art gallery called Fallen Leaves. Ironically I fell in love with a bear painting and it broke my heart to leave it and the One thousand dollar price tag behind.
I missed the first turn off for the town of Banff, but the highway has about five more and so it was not long before I was in the busy, bustling, lively town of Banff. Cars were bumper to bumper down Banff Avenue. The Avenue is lined with colourful restaurants and hotels.
The sidewalks were lined with people walking one way or another. A tour bus stopped in front of me and 80 Japanese tourists disembarked and immediately began snapping photographs of the town and the surrounding mountains. It took me approximately one hour, not counting breakfast, to drive from Calgary to Banff. It took another hour to drive the three miles from the highway turn-off to my hotel, The Fox Inn and Suites. I was about five hours too early to check-in but the receptionist assured me I could leave my car in the parking lot behind the building with no issue.
I left my bags in the car for the moment and was happy to set out on foot. I had a town to explore!
Found this amazing timelapse video of the area, hope it makes you want to visit the place!