Day 1 – July 3, 2019
We left NYC bright and early on July 3rd. We had a layover in Toronto so we relaxed in the airport lounge there and did some work. After a 4 hour flight from Toronto, we landed in Calgary! We picked up our rental car and started our 3 hour drive to Golden. Along the way we stopped in Canmore to pick up some bear spray, (yes, that is imperative when hiking in Banff) and some snacks and groceries. We also stopped for dinner in Canmore and ordered some poutine and a bison burger and it was deeeeelish!
We decided to stop at Lake Louise on the drive to Golden since it was an off hour and there was room to park. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy, but we knew we’d be heading back to see it again.
As we continued on our drive to Golden, we passed a black bear walking along the highway; what a perfect welcome! 😂
Day 2 – July 4, 2019
We built a rough itinerary for this trip, but quickly realized that we were at the whims of the crazy climate in Banff. We woke up early on Independence Day to light rain so we decided to hit some of the easier stops that required less hiking.
Our first stop was the northernmost destination on our itinerary. A short hike led us to the viewpoint over the lake that is fed directly from a glacier.
A few miles south of Peyto Lake sits Bow Lake. It was too wet for the short hike at the lake so we picked up some coffee and Cody’s favorite Canadian snack, Coffee Crisp (a big coffee-flavored kit kat).
We stopped at Spiral Tunnels on our way to Emerald Lake because we wanted to see some tunnels! Much to our dismay, this was just a lookout to the old railroads that looped in circles through tunnels dug into the mountain to fight the steep downward grade of the dangerous railroad tracks.
Even though it was cloudy and rainy, this lake was absolutely beautiful! There is a small cabin on the lake with delicious snacks and a store nearby with the cutest souvenirs! When we come back at some point in the future, we’d love to go back and see the lake on a more clear day.
Our next stop in Yoho National Park was natural bridge, a rock formation that was once a waterfall, until the water dug through the rock, creating a tunnel that shoots out the water.
The rest of the day was pretty low key. We attempted to go curling for a fun indoor activity, but unfortunately the rink was closed. We then went to the grocery store and decided to get some food to cook for the evening in our AirBnB. We also picked up a local beer called Whitetooth. We relaxed, watched a movie, did some wedding planning, cooked dinner, and went to bed very early 😇.
Day 3 – July 5, 2019
The next day we woke up early to hit many stops on our drive from Golden towards Banff.
Takkakaw Falls is one of Canada’s highest waterfalls nestled in Yoho National Park. The massive waterfall stands at 833 ft.
After seeing the waterfall, we went into town for lunch at this amazing place called Bear Street Tavern. We got a pizza with prosciutto and truffle oil and dipped it into a combination of hot sauce and honey, the restaurant’s signature dish!
This was a perfect, light hike to do (given the weather). The ~2 mile hike along the river led to two major falls (‘Lower Falls’ and ‘Upper Falls’ – very creative, Canada). Despite some lines for the photos, it was a nice 1.5 hour walk with quite a view.
On our way back into town we came across a grizzly bear!!! 😧
The Vermillion Room
A month or so before our trip, we made a reservation at this restaurant. The restaurant is in the Banff Fairmont Springs hotel which is a beautiful hotel overlooking amazing views. We got to dinner a bit early to walk around the old hotel. Dinner was absolutely delicious!
Day 4 – July 6, 2019
Lucky for us, the weather really cleared up for our last full day! 🙌🏼
Agnes Tea House
And, for the rest of the day, we explored downtown Banff. After we checked out the curling rink, strolled in and out of some touristy shops, and scoped out our ice cream place for dessert later in the evening.
We grabbed appetizer at The Park Distillery. And, after apps, we then went to Chuck’s Steakhouse.
Day 5 – July 7, 2019
We woke up early to check out of our AirBnB and head to the airport. On our way to the airport, we made sure to get our Tim Horton’s on our way out of Banff!
Overall, the trip was great but unfortunately the weather wasn’t ideal for all of the hiking we had planned. We would love to go back some day, especially with a group of friends that also loves to hike. We want to do Big and Little Beehive, the Plaine of Six Glaciers…etc.! Luckily, the flight isn’t too far so hopefully we will make it there again! 🇨🇦