Canadian Rockies, Day Two: Kootenay Nat’l Park & Town of Banff

On our second day of our Canadian Rockies adventure (did you miss Day 1?) we woke up to a cool morning as we departed Radium Hot Springs for the entrance to the first park: Kootenay National Park (official) (Wikipedia). The weather so far wasn’t unlike what Seattle had experienced this summer: warm, dry days and cool, refreshing nights. After a tasty breakfast at the motel, we hit the road for the park entrance – it was less than a kilometer away.

Radium Hot Springs Morning
A cool mountain morning.

The actual entrance to the park was unique in that it went through a canyon – Sinclair Canyon, to be exact – on its way to a valley where you could see cool alpine rivers and sweeping views of the valley and its bordering mountains.

Kootenay Entrance - Alberta, Canada
Gorge on the road leading into Kootenay National Park, AB

After the gorge we stopped at the actual Radium Hot Springs Pools. Spoiler alert: the springs aren’t actually visible nor are you able to really swim in what one thinks of when they think of a hot spring – they’re literal swimming pools. The springs are used to feed a couple different swimming pools. Bummer.

A sweeping view just inside Kootenay National Park
An alpine river running through the valley.

This was probably one of two really good, clear days out of our entire trip. The wildfires that ravaged parts of British Columbia and Alberta did a number on the visibility later in the week (it cleared the day after we left…naturally). For the duration of our trip (and probably quite some time before and after, there was a very broad fire ban covering all of the National Parks within the region.

Fire Ban
A 3D rendering of Kootenay National Park

We wound up Highway 93 towards the Town of Banff stopping along the way at anything that looked like it’d be something worth stopping. The roads within the parks are signed well and help you locate things to see. There were waterfalls, paint pots, scenic overlooks, lodges and even just plain campsites to stop and take a gander at.

waterfall
Waterfall in Kootenay National Park

There was simply no shortage of things to stop and marvel at.

Mountain and lake along Trans-Canada Hwy 1 near Banff

We arrived in Banff, AB in mid afternoon. It’s a cute small town – if you’ve been to Whistler, BC it sort of reminds me of that, at least the downtown portion. It’s a completely and utterly overrun with tourists both on foot and in cars, however a few blocks away from the downtown area – with its restaurants, souvenir shops, bars and other stores designed to part a visitor from their money – it’s just  a regular town. There were really pretty views all over from within the town.

Cascade Gardens in Banff.
Large resort tucked up on a mountainside.

After we settled into our bed & breakfast, which was a short ten-minute walk downtown, we grabbed something to eat, and then walked across the Bow River towards some the aptly-named Bow River Falls.

Spectacular sunset on the way downtown

The Town has a nice groomed path along the Bow River with steps and paved trails and such – which also make it prime real estate for tourists that probably never set foot off pavement; a serene riverside walk is unlikely. The falls and the river were pretty cool. There are some river tours and such, and if you walk even further out of town there’s a gondola you can take up to the top of a nearby mountain (free shuttle!).

Waterfall on the Bow River in the Town of Banff, AB.

After got back we ended up at Banff Ave Brewing Co and enjoyed some frosty adult beverages and some snacks. This was probably the easiest drinking and very delicious beer I’ve had in recent memory:

Banff Ave Blonde Ale – SO YUMMY.

I wish I could find an easy way to get it by the caseload here in Seattle. If anyone would like to acquire a case or five and bring it down here….I’d be much obliged.

After the beverages we retired to our stuffy and hot B&B without a window fan for a restless night’s sleep. It was very warm during the day (90s) and super cool at night – but without a fan to exchange the air it was very stuff. The hostess at the B&B had earlier recommended a few places for us to visit tomorrow – when we’ll head for our next two nights at Lake Louise, AB – which was a change of plans as another B&B had mistakenly booked us for the wrong date – so we had no accommodations. Find out where we ended up for Day 3 and 4!

Note – While many of the pictures shown here came from my phone, I also brought my Nikon D7100 DSLR along. The photos I took with the Nikon are much higher resolution and better quality than an iPhone. Those photos link to my photo site, where you can find photographs from this trip as well as many others over the years. 

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