I’ve been flying for a little over a year. I remember in the first month of flying when I saw the Delta advertisement of Lake Moraine. It was on every seat monitor on the 757. I assumed the Lake was in Switzerland or somewhere foreign. Then after doing a google image search, I found out it was in Canada. On the same continent as me and I’ve never seen or heard of this beautiful majestic place. I listed it as #1 on my bucket list and researched how expensive it would be to go. In my initial research, I found that there aren’t many places to stay near Banff National Park, and if there were, they’re expensive. Most places are around $200 a night, and for a solo adventurer, that wasn’t realistic. Also, I realized I would need a car because of the distance between hotels/airbnbs and the park itself. I’m 24, and you have to be 25 to rent a car. In defeat, I put the trip on hold and decided it would be awhile until I made it.
The Spontaneous Idea to Take The Trip
Then came this awesome invitation to go on a yacht in Croatia, but because of my work schedule and how hard it is to get in and out of Split, Croatia, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. In response to feeling like I was missing out on a once in a lifetime offer, I decided to give Banff National Park a go again. I contacted my friend Mike, who I talked to before about checking Banff out. We met in Greece a couple years back and stayed connected via social media. He lives in Edmonton which is around 3 hours from Calgary and 5 hours from Banff.
Mike was totally down for the adventure. I messaged him on the 13th of August, and was on the plane heading to Edmonton on the 14th. I flew 2 Delta flights, Philadelph
ia to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to Edmonton. The flights were both around 2 to 2.5 hours long. I thought the travel time was perfect. After the first 2 hours of flying, you get off and walk around, grab food, then jump back on for another 2 hours. It’s a refreshing intermission. For anyone who is curious about the cost of flying, I researched how much a round trip flight from PHL to YEG (Edmonton) would be. It looks like you would pay in between $500-$600 for a roundtrip fare. Now mind you, you can fly straight to Calgary which is much closer to Banff than Edmonton. I just flew to Edmonton strictly to meet Mike. To clarify, if you do not have a friend in Edmonton, and you are obviously going straight to Calgary… the roundtrip tickets from PHL to Calgary are cheaper and in between $400 – $500. Although, Edmonton is a cool hipster town, and I would recommend checking it out for a day or two if you have the time.
The Car Ride to Banff
The trip started on the 14th. Mike picked me up from the Edmonton airport, dropped my bags off at his place, and then he took me down to Whyte Ave for a festival called Fringe. There were a ton of street performers, cool acts, interesting characters, live music, etc. On the 15th, Mike rented a car for 4 days, I think for $160 which is a great deal. We left Edmonton and began to road trip to Calgary where his friend Evan lives. Evan had a National Park parking pass that Mike wanted to swipe for the ride. Three hours later we stopped by Evan’s, said hello, grabbed the pass, and jumped back on the road. Once we drove into Calgary, the car window view was beautiful. The mountains, trees, and skyline were all mesmerizing.
First Impression of Lake Louise
After 3 more hours in the car, we finally arrived at Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Walking up to the lake, the feeling I had was enchantment. The water was an ivory blue with mountains and trees wrapping around it. I couldn’t find the right words to describe the panorama. I could only think of it being mystical or maybe whimsical. It was well worth the journey! There is this beautiful hotel right on the lake called Fairmont Chateau. Guess how much it is to stay there a night…….. if you guessed at least $700 a night well then you would be correct my friend! I think before I die, I’m going to stay there for 1 night. Yep, that’s now on my bucket list. Maybe I can find someone to split it with me.. or 3!
Kayaking on Lake Louise
Anyways, a cool activity they have on the lake is kayaking, $75 for 30 minutes or $85 for 60 minutes. We went for 60minutes. The great thing about Canada, is that their dollar is weaker than ours. 1 US dollar = 1.29 Canadian. 100 US dollars = 128.65 Canadian. This was a plus especially because my gift to Mike for him offering to host me for a week was two kayak trips and splitting the car rental. If you go to Lake Louise, I recommend you do the kayak excursion and also just do a walk around the lake. You can rock climb or hike too if you’re looking for a little more adventure.
Spent Our Nights In The Lake Invermere Area
After the visit, we jumped back into the car and headed to Invermere where Mike’s friend offered his cabin to us for the week. It was a 2 hour drive. If you’re looking at places to stay near Banff, I would suggest Invermere and do the 2 hour car ride to Banff. The car ride is so beautiful, you won’t mind the drive. Invermere is very beautiful as well, and you can find reasonable prices for sleeping accommodations. On airbnb, places range from $50 to $150, so you have a descent price range to work with. When we arrived at the cabin in Invermere, I realized that Mike had the hook up because this place was a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, game room, everything under the sun, palace. It was great, but had no wifi so I died a little inside.
Hot Springs Were Cool, Or Should I Say HOT!
On the 16th, we decided to hang out in Invermere and checked out the lake. It was awesome, I can’t imagine how much a home on the Invermere Lake costs. Later in the day we decided to take an hour trip to Lussier Hot Springs which Mike’s friend recommended to him. The drive was a little sketchy, and I was concerned Mike was going to drive us off the mountain but thankfully he wasn’t too reckless with his driving. We walked down to the path and saw these natural tubs alongside the river. I wasn’t expecting it to be hot, maybe just warm, but it was scorching hot! It felt amazing and I could only sit there for 5 minutes until I felt like my flesh was burning off. Pretty impressive that there is a natural hot spring just tucked away in the mountain like that. It was nice and relaxing, even with a ton of people there. Our ride back to Invermere from Lussier was pretty rad too. The moon was so big sitting right on top of a mountain peak. I tried to take a photo but the moon is so hard to shoot.
Lake Moraine, The Best for Last
On the 17th, we went back to Banff National Park and this time we went to Lake Moraine. We saved the best for last. We parked the car and started walking towards the lake. Mike saw the lake before me and stopped me in suspense in how I would react. A few steps closer and all I could see was turquoise blue. The most beautiful view I have ever seen. That’s saying alot. I was infatuated with the Greek Isles for years now but this was just a different kind of beauty. Very similiar to Lake Louise with the surrounding mountains and trees. There was a large rock formation we climbed up to see the entire lake. We sat and took in the view for awhile, then decided to climb down so Mike could feed a chipmunk and then jump into the freezing water. After all the excitement, we decided to kayak. This time it was $75 for the hour.
Hike to Consolation Lake
Later, we hiked to Consolation Lake. It was probably a 30 minute hike through the woods. We were a little nervous because there were signs saying to hike in a pack of 4 due to the risk of bears. We said it felt like we were going through Robin Hood’s woods, it really felt like no one was around us for miles. It was a beautiful walk leading up to a view that I wasn’t expecting. It was a small valley of large boulders surrounding a lake. These boulders were huge! I would love to witness them falling from the mountains but then again I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near that. It was different, and we had fun jumping boulder to boulder attempting to get closer to the lake.
After our visit to Moraine Lake and Consolation Lake, we didn’t do anymore adventure seeking. We jumped in the car, headed to Calgary, grabbed food and a drink, drove back to Edmonton which was the longest drive ever and I don’t know how Mike did it after such a long day. The next day I was on my way back to Philly! I left with a cold which I’m still battling but besides catching a cold, it was a great trip and I urge you all to go and check it out!