If you have never been to the Canadian Rockies, there is no other way to say it but you’re missing out! There is something magnificent and powerful and pure about the entire experience. An experience that deserves to be on your top ten places to visit list.
When I was in my very early twenties my dad and step-mom moved to Alberta and the first time I visited them we took a drive to Banff. From that day on the mountains have called to me (there’s no other way to explain it).
If you have stood at the base of the Canadian Rockies and looked up you will understand. My grandmother likens it to standing on the shores of Lake Superior. Both are purely Canadian experiences and ones that will stay with you forever… calling to you, making you compare every other mountain and every other body of water you see but knowing in your heart nothing will ever really compare.
I have jumped on every single opportunity to return to the mountains, despite expensive plane tickets, car rentals and hotel bills that would compare to any European or sunny destination vacation. But you watch for the sales, wait for the work trips that bring you there and then you extend your time as much as you possibly can to savour every single minute.
This time I wanted to bring the kids. I wanted to take them to the top of a mountain. The kind you can only ever find in Canada.
Some questioned my judgement… a weekend in the Rockies with three kids and we didn’t plan on skiing – what else is there to do?
My answer: TONS!
We stayed right in Banff where the mountains surround you. Our first stop was the Banff Gondola which takes you to the top of Sulpher Mountain in about 6 minutes. The last time I rode the gondola was five years ago… a romantic getaway with my husband. This time I was mesmerized by my children’s amazement as they went higher up the mountain and looked down at the valley below.
At the top of the mountain there are picture perfect moments. I made sure I caught every single one of them.
Then I was floored when my husband and our two eldest children (8 and 4 years old) hiked up 1 km of what looked like a thousand stairs to Sanson’s Peak. Sweet Pea and I drank hot chocolate in the cafe on the top of the mountain and soaked in the view while waiting for the adventurers. I was so proud when they returned rosy cheeked and in awe of the sheer magnitude of the Rockies.
Later that morning we drove to Lake Louise. We walked on the frozen lake, went tobogganing at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and played amongst the ice sculptures (including the ice castle right on the frozen lake) on the Fairmont grounds.
The next day we strolled through the shoppes of Banff and visited the hot springs. Soaking in the hot natural mineral water enjoying the mountain view while the snow falls was a highlight for Sugar Plum.
We were there for a weekend and didn’t even scratch the surface of everything you can do. Dog sledding, ice walking, hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding. Oh and I hear they have pretty good skiing too!
The Travel Alberta slogan has got it 100% right – Remember to Breathe.
The views and the magnitude of the Rockies are breath-taking and when you actually catch your breath and remember to breathe nothing compares to breathing in deep mountain air.