O’ the Lakes and the Flowers

Banff  129Banff  090The lakes around Banff National Park are irresistible. So one of our first destinations while in the Banff area was the famous Lake Louise.Banff  130

The lake is about an hour drive from Banff and many people visit both in the same trip.   But Lake Louise and the area around the lake is also a destination in and of itself.Banff  093

Banff  092Banff  091We set out late in the afternoon to see Lake Louise and another well-known lake, Moraine Lake. Our purpose was to scope out the possibility of kayaking the lakes, which are both located in absolutely stunning settings.

Lake Louise was jam packed with people although as it got a bit later the crowds thinned a bit. But it’s a beautiful jewel of a lake.

And we found out that we’d have to walk our kayaks down a short trail and put in by the walkway. Not ideal.   Probably an intentional way to avoid competition with their rental canoe outfit, where they charge $55 per hour (!!!).

And yet I briefly entertained the idea of taking Angel out with us on a canoe – that might make it worth the steep price. But I decided that a glacial lake was not the best place to test whether Angel would remain still while sitting in a canoe. But for anyone who has a pup that will stay still in a canoe, they do allow dogs.

After spending a little time by Lake Louise, we continued to Moraine Lake, about fifteen minutes away. It was late afternoon, but we still encountered a bit of a delay for parking due to the fact that Moraine Lake has a much smaller parking area.

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Big bear and his little friend

Big bear and his little friend

Moraine Lake is just as beautiful as Lake Louise but just a bit less touristy.  And their canoe rentals are “only” $50 per hour.

Moraine Lake is yet another brilliantly colored lake surrounded by mountains with glaciers. The lake was once featured on the back of the $20 Canadian bill.  It’s hard to say which of the two lakes is the more beautiful. So I won’t 🙂

We found that access to a put in for kayaks at Moraine Lake was much easier, just a short walk from a dropoff area. And the reason that we easily found the perfect spot was that a young couple were putting their boats in the water.Banff  098

While chatting with them we found out that they are traveling around the world, tent camping. Roberto and Bella are a young couple who’ve had many adventures and publish an adventure travel magazine called the Expeditioners. Hector took photos of the couple on the lake and sent them copies.

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Banff  103Then one morning it was our turn, we took our kayaks, Caribe and Fuego to Moraine Lake.

Brenda on Moraine Lake

Brenda on Moraine Lake

Banff  104We left relatively early to beat the rush.   Hector wanted to take a photo of me similar to one he’d seen on the cover of a book and so he climbed up a rock pile that’s next to the lake for his shots. I was practically alone on the lake as the photos show.

A little while after he joined me a few canoes came out on the water. They had the luxury of boarding from a dock, but we had to walk in the water to board – it was freezing!  The lake is quite small so it’s a super easy paddle. But once we reached the far end, we only saw a few canoes.

Banff  107Banff  108And the real reason for getting out in the water was to experience being in the middle of the lake surrounded by the gorgeous mountains and glaciers.Banff  123

We discovered a waterfall and some cascades near the far end that were not visible from the other side.   So we stayed out there for a while just marveling at the beauty of the place.Banff  115Banff  113Banff  121Banff  110

Banff  111There is a trail around one side of the lake and Hector spotted a couple having some snacks by the water. So he paddled over to them and asked them to take our photo. Turns out they were from Switzerland and said this area reminded them of their country. And they took a nice photo of us.Banff  116Banff  118


Banff  119Banff  124We left Moraine Lake thinking we might take the kayaks down again over at Lake Louise and go for another paddle.   But by the time we got to there it was really crowded and so we just took a little walk around the lake.

Banff  095Banff  125But we were so enchanted by Lake Louise that we returned a third time, this time with plans to take the gondola to the top of the Lake Louise ski area and go for a hike. It was quite cloudy that day, but the rain hadn’t started, so on the advice of the staff, we took the chair lift instead of the gondola for a better view.Banff  094

Banff  096The Lake Louise Ski Resort is located in the midst of prime grizzly bear habitat, and the ride on the gondola and chairlift ride to the top are known for bear sightings.Banff  183Banff  150

What is interesting is that there is an electrified fence that goes around the ski area base and the parking lot and another around the area at the top of the gondola to prevent grizzlies from getting into the inhabited area. It’s a massive fence.Banff  136

The ride to the top is very scenic, with little creeks and wildflowers along the way. And, of course, the view behind us was magnificient.Banff  182Banff  139Banff  140

Banff  127Banff  142Banff  148Banff  146Banff  141Banff  133Banff  162Banff  147Banff  145We didn’t see any bear on the way up, grizzly nor black. But saw lots of mounted bear and other animals at the interpretive center, with very informative exhibits on the various wildlife found in the area.Banff  151

Banff  137Banff  149Next we had a quick picnic lunch, then set off for our hike. In order to hike from the top you have to exit the electrified fence. With signs that say that you should travel in groups of at least four and take bear spray. We were two and had no bear spray.Banff  181

Banff  152We were looking around to see if someone else was going to hike when we did to make a the recommended foursome, but no luck.  But Hector convinced me to go, and we took one of the shorter trails known for the best view but also because it looked like it was going to rain soon.Banff  143

Banff  134Banff  135We quickly saw two hikers coming down from the trail and I felt better. In fact we saw three groups of hikers and all were couples, not groups of four or more.Banff  176

We were actually in the midst of the ski area, with ski trails around us. They take down that massive fence at the end of the summer season.  Wow!Banff  138Banff  154

There were fields full of wildflowers all the way to the top with lots of pine trees surrounding them.Banff  153Banff  131

We reached the overlook and the weather was getting stormier, but the view was amazing. Mountains, glaciers, beautiful Lake Louise in the foreground and, at the head of the lake, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This iconic hotel was originally built over 100 years ago as a summer cabin, and rebuilt in 1911 after several fires destroyed the original structures.Banff  132Banff  157

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Banff  156Unfortunately the clouds made the treed areas look very dark in the photos, I’m sure a blue sky would be incredible. And we did get a moment or two of sun.Banff  160

But it was still a fairytale view.Banff  170

And we didn’t find bear but we found a cute little pika 🙂

Banff  180We got back to the lift area just as it began to rain but we still took the chairlift down and not the gondola. It was just a soft summer rain and a beautiful ride down, but again, no bears.  Banff  174

Banff  173Banff  177We highly recommend the Lake Louise gondola or chairlift and the trails at the top. On a good weather day, it’s very possible to hike a couple of the trails. But don’t forget the bear spray.

~ BrendaBanff  155Banff  106

19 thoughts on “O’ the Lakes and the Flowers

  1. OMG, what stunning scenery and Hector out did himself with these photos (if that’s possible). Al and I have fallen in love with Pikas. They are just the cutest and so fast. Great captures of the speedy little things 🙂

    • I agree he outdid himself – the conditions were tough for the landscape photos – gray skies with thick clouds. We’ve loved pikas since we first saw them in Colorado. And they are definitely tough to photograph. We also love their little squeaks.

    • It really was a gorgeous place. Funny, Hector and I were saying how much we love the pika’s ears too – they are adorable.

  2. SPECTACULAR!!!!!! Those lakes are stunning! I wonder whether our kids remember our trip… Will forward them your post and let you know. Godspeed.

  3. I often wonder how Hector’s photography can get any better, and then it does! Even with the cloudy skies he takes superb shots. The places you have gone with such spectacular scenery certainly doesn’t hurt either. We also love those pika ears and I never tire of wildflowers or stunning lakes. Great photos of the two of you and those of you Brenda, out on the lake alone are wonderful. 🙂

    • Thanks, LuAnn. Hector really is dedicated to his photography and I agree that it continues to get better (not biased of course). It definitely helps that we are visiting such stunning places. We enjoyed Moraine Lake very much, it was such a privilege to be in the midst of that beauty.

    • Thank you! It was so funny, with Hector yelling at me to move here and there from the rock pile (you’ll see it when you go there). And yes, the places is always gorgeous. Can’t wait to see your photos of the same place with bright blue skies 🙂

  4. Oh my goodness! The glacier is almost gone! I have visited Lake Louise 3 times, the first being in the 70s when the toe of the glacier nearly touched the lake. My last visit was in the 90s when the glacier had receded by about half. To see it almost gone is so heartbreaking. I had no idea a glacier could recede so quickly. In the summer of the 90s, all those mountains had snow on them. They looked like chocolate layer cakes with frosting on top. I’d better move Canada up the list before that glacier has totally disappeared. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous and remind me of good times.

    • Welcome to our blog! We keep hearing about how much the glaciers have receded from people that have visited these places in the past. You were lucky to have seen some of them when they were much larger. We just left Glacier National Park and will be writing a bit about the situation there. And, yes, it’s a good goal to visit these places soon before the glaciers retreat much further. My husband, Hector is the photographer. We’re so glad the photos bring back good memories.

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