It’s funny how heightened awareness works. Until last year, I had barely even heard of Banff National Park. It definitely wasn’t on my radar of places to visit.
Once we started sharing about our trip to Banff, we discovered how many friends and friends of friends had either been to Banff, were currently at Banff (crazy timing!), or had Banff on their bucket list.
A couple years ago,we had the opportunity to meet David and Andrea from Huntsville Traveler (now Plane Surfers), who went on to create Huntsville Adventurer. (Their Huntsville Adventurer page is one you don’t want to miss!)
We love their stuff and have been cheering them on whenever we can. Joel came across their blog post on Banff National Park. Ever since then, he would usually bring up Banff as an option when we talked about where we would go for our next trip.
Since we originally planned to visit Scotland this year for our 10th anniversary, it took me a little while to warm up to the idea of Banff. Reality hits when you have an 8-month-old, though! We decided to skip Europe for now and stay a little closer to home.
After talking through all our options, we decided to book our tickets to Calgary and jump in!
And what an amazing experience Banff became for us. The scenery is absolutely breath-taking. Banff might not have been on my radar before, but these views are ones I’ll never forget.
One of the words that came to my mind over and over as we explored this little piece of God’s creation was “immense”. The massive rocky cliffs jaunted high into the sky. Everywhere you looked, there were rocks that just towered in the distance.
Your heart will joyfully praise the Creator when you see a display like this!
This is what greeted us as we drove into the park.
We arrived in Banff mid-afternoon, and we made our way up to Lake Louise. The weather that afternoon was beautiful! All three of us thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely stroll around the lake. An hour at Lake Louise was the perfect introduction to Banff.
Josiah loved both the walk and the bus ride. Such a cutie!
The hotel was so beautiful. I think someday we might come back and spend a few days just relaxing here. Spring visioning retreat 2024!?
Josiah was more than ready to be done for the day, so we found a little mom-and-pop restaurant and settled in our AirBnB for the night. It was a camper at a campground, by the way. Unique experience for an AirBnB, but it would actually be really great if you didn’t have a pack-n-play to squeeze in.
The next morning called for a J&A Coffee Adventure. We had scouted out a stellar looking coffee shop in Canmore that we were super excited about. It didn’t disappoint! Eclipse Coffee Roasters served amazing lattes and had a great little space. We loved it and went back the next morning!
Lattes in hand, we went off to Moraine Lake! We thought we had an early start, but evidently not early enough. We squeezed into the very last Lake Louise parking spot and stood in line for Moraine Lake shuttle tickets.
It definitely took way longer than we expected to make our way up there, but it was 100% worth it.
We did get a chance to see Lake Louise in the gorgeous morning light while we waited for our Moraine Lake shuttle. That was a fun bonus!
In Joel’s words, “This is the single most beautiful view we’ve seen in all our travels.”
I personally think Lake Louise in the morning light is a contender, as well, but Moraine Lake can definitely hold its own.
Moraine Lake was a stunner. Absolutely beautiful! When we posted one of these pictures on Instagram, several people asked if the unique water color was real or photoshopped. Our travel pictures never have a heavy edit on them, and what you see is always totally real! The greenish-blue water color comes from minerals in the glaciers. I think it has to do with how the light reflects off those particular minerals suspended in the water.
Funny story. We stood on the lakeside, admiring the view. It was pretty, but maybe not quite all it was cracked up to be, in our opinion. As we stood there, we saw multiple people walking around on this huge pile of rocks.
Climb on the rock pile loaded down with a stroller, diaper bag, and an 8 month old? Sure, why not. The driver had waved over in that direction and said something about following the trail.
Follow it we did, up the pile of rocks. And this, my friends, was that single point of beauty that we will never, ever forget.
After Josiah enjoyed some sweet potatoes and applesauce on the shores of Moraine Lake, we grabbed a shuttle back to our car and headed further into the park.
The drive was gorgeous! Josiah fell asleep, so we quietly meandered our way past glaciers, picturesque mountain lakes, and peaceful meadows.
We would have absolutely loved to keep heading north toward the Icefields Parkway, but strategy is key when you’re traveling with a baby. After Bow Lake, we headed back to our AirBnB to prep for our family photo session with Tessa Perkins Photography!
On our way back to prep for our session, a quick stop at a french bakery in Canmore was in order. The chocolate mousse cake was delectable. We also turned Le fournil Bakery into one of our J&A Coffee Adventure spots, although the pastries were definitely the highlight.
We spent the rest of our afternoon at our photoshoot with Tessa Perkins Photography! Every fall during our travels, we find an amazing local photographer and get on the other side of the camera. We let Tessa choose the location for us, and it couldn’t have been more amazing!!
Our first location was Lake Minnewanka. Stunning! We got there a little early to explore. It’s a wonderfully quiet, peaceful spot. We finished up our session at Two Jack Lake, which was also a breath-taking location!
The next morning, we grabbed a mocha from Eclipse Coffee Roasters and took one last drive into the park.
Not many people were out yet, especially in the less-traveled parts of the park. We discovered the most serene lakeside spot! The jutting mountains absolutely glowed in the morning sun.
Before making our way back to Calgary for a weekend stop, we spent some time checking out the town of Banff. It reminded us of a mix between Golden, CO and Gatlinburg, TN. Beautiful, touristy, and fun to explore.
Our photographer from Prince Edward Island recommended stopping by Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel. Stunning!! Being Covenant College alumi, which is a former hotel nicknamed “castle in the sky”, Banff Springs Hotel gave us all the feels. We admired the stone building nestled among the mountain views, toured the historic lobby, and enjoyed some peaceful indoor moments.
Next up, we took a quick hike on a nearby trail to Bow Falls. It was an easy walk with a baby in tow, and the views were beautiful.
On our return hike to town, we came across the Cascade of Time Gardens. It wasn’t on our original “to-see” list, but it was definitely one of the highlights! As a bonus, the grounds are free to wander!
On our drive out, we passed a huge meadow being set up for a wedding. All the heart eyes here. I almost swooned when I thought about photographing a wedding with a backdrop like that.
Our last stop in the area was to take a peek at the hoodoos. We didn’t take the time to hike very far down with the baby, but the view was worth the stop!
With Josiah sleeping in the backseat, we headed back to Calgary for the weekend. We wanted to spend Sunday worshipping at a church we found in Calgary before making the trek down to Montana on Monday!
Glacier National Park in Montana was ah-mazing, It’s next up in our Wanderlust series and will be hitting the blog soon!
In the meantime, take a peek at our adventures in Verona, Italy or Kaua’i , Hawaii!
Huntsville Adventurer’s blog post on Banff, Cananda
Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
Drive to Bow Lake, Banff National Park
Eclipse Coffee Roasters, Canmore Alberta
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (UNESCO site), Banff, Canada
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Such a gorgeous part of the world.