Sunday, June 21, 2009

National Parks Banff, Yoho, Kootenays Rockies Best Road Trips Canada!

I'm back from a few weeks' travel 'out west' -- from Toronto to B.C. and Alberta. Though I have toured the Canadian Rockies many times over the years, it had been quite a few since I had last gotten vertigo trying to see the top of a sheer cliff or had occasion to panic on the steep grades and curves of the mountain highways.

But a road trip through the National Parks -- Banff, Yoho, Kootenay -- all in the Canadian Rockies has to be one of the best trips to take in Canada!

Here in no particular order are some pictures taken my my guide and driver, Sheila. I'll post a link to her blog below.

At the Natural Bridge Kicking Horse River Yoho National Park

This is a really lovely spot to get up close to the Kicking Horse River as it wears away the canyon walls. Parks daily admission was $19.60 CAD for the car and pax. Find a parks office near any entry point town -- in this case, we bought it at Field BC as we arrived via Golden. When you are there, pick up a copy of the Parks guide to see attractions, maps, etc. (free).

Wapta Falls Yoho National Park West Entrance

On Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway), just inside the west boundary of Yoho Park, a sign marks the entrance to Wapta Falls. At this point you are about 22 kms (13.6 miles) west of Field, BC. The park guidebook said to allow about 45 minutes one way, and it took us about that, maybe a little less. Younger couples obviously more fit than we made the trail trek much faster.

From the top of Wapta Falls where you can see me in the above picture taking a picture, there are steps down the hilllside to get the view from the bottom of the falls. I was too hot and tired to consider hiking down and up again, then 45 minutes back to the car. But if you go, be my guest and send me a pic!

Sulphur (Sulfur) Spring Crowsnest Pass Alberta BC Border

The above pic is me with my backpack and my cousin Judi (red). When we were kids (elementary school), we spent a lot of time in the summer holidays exploring this area. Judi has lived near here all her life, and knows all the secret trails and stories. This suphur springs kills all vegetation. We had to walk down the railway tracks to get to the path to get here. Haven't walked on train tracks for a long time! Felt kind of naughty :-)

Me and the Giant Truck @ Sparwood BC

Before I left on the road trip, a Twitterpal said that I should stop here for lunch:
@newfiehun @karenzabawa Don't forget to stop at Middletown Cafe in Sparwood (beside the GIANT dumptruck!)
And really, we had the BEST panini ever for a great lunch -- ate outside on a nice shady table and admired the truck and the gardens. The truck is indeed huge -- you can just see me by the front tire.

Creston BC Motel -- Luggage in the trunk for another day on the road

After a day we got into a routine of brekkies, internet (all motels but one had wireless) (some faster than others), and packing the cooler. Motels throughout our trip had small fridges with freezers and coffee makers, and many had microwaves. This is perfect for a light breakfast to tide you over.

I always pack packets of instant oatmeal and a spoon, and meal replacement bars. We'd packed boiled eggs, and fruit and granola bars, and stopped for cold beers at the end of the day.

Lots of good places to eat all through the Kootenays and national parks towns, but some better than others. One chef at a resto in Radium Hot Springs felt so bad that he'd under-grilled my chicken not once but twice that he comped us a fabulous dessert. And other than the chicken episode (which was fabulous, too, once grilled long enough) it was the best dinner ever!

Karen and Sheila Lake Louise Alberta

BFF and for too many years to count. If I'm not traveling solo, then Sheila is my top choice. (Maggie, wearing white fur, is cute, too, but not good on long plane flights.) Sheila can drive anything, anywhere, and is good when the going gets tough* (*when I throw a hissy fit :-)

I'll put more pictures and details on my site once I get the content organized.

The photographer of all the images in this post is Sheila. See her pictures of a similar road trip on her RV blog from last September.