Its about time I shared my thoughts and rather large amount of photos on my recent trip across the Canadian Rockies, I have honestly struggled to put into words how incredible this country is and what an amazing time I had, but here it goes, I will pre-warn you its going to be a long one…
At the end of the summer I spent a couple of weeks appreciating all things nature, Bear Grylls style, camping and travelling around one of the most beautiful places I have had the chance to visit, as I embarked on my second solo adventure. Starting in Vancouver and venturing through British Columbia, Alberta and back round to Vancouver. Taking the scenic route was definitely the main focus on this road trip, off the beaten track, stumbling upon the most incredible views. Every Mountain, lake, waterfall took my breath away, I was in complete awe of the natural wonders that Canada had to offer.
Starting off in such a vibrant city like Vancouver was crazy. The city is buzzing with people from all walks of life, but unlike most major cities I’ve visited, the city is surrounded with mountains towering all around you, its very surreal. The neighbourhoods are so diverse and quirky with so much to offer from cute coffee shops and bars to high-street shopping and cool markets. I ventured outside the city centre slightly to visit The VanDusen Botanical Gardens and the Capilino Suspension Bridge, (which I would highly recommend both if you have the time when visiting).
The tour started with us hitting the road on the sea to sky highway. We stopped off at Cyprus Park for the first (of many) incredible view spots, overlooking the whole of Vancouver…
… and then we were off to British Columbia. Starting in Whistler, we zip-wired our way through the whistler mountains, explored the olympic village, ironically got lost at The Lost Lake’ and experienced our first evening in the great Canadian outdoors – where I shocked myself with my camping abilities.
When I think of Whistler I think of a ski resort covered in a blanket of thick snow. Visiting in the summer definitely changed my opinion. I experienced the extreme zip lining course which is situated in the heart of whistler village. Zip-lining through the beautiful green trees up in the mountain tops. We also had a little forest walk to the lake pictured above, Lost Lake which was just perfectly serene and beautiful. Jumping off the pontoon to cool down after an active morning was the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in whistler. Theres a great nightlife in whistler village too – as long as you don’t leave a member of your group in a random bar (sorry Danny).
Next up we were heading off into the rockies, and Wells Grey National Park was first on our list! One of my favourite parts of a road trip is the pit stops and this road trip certainly didn’t disappoint. We had some incredible stop offs along the way starting off with Duffy lake pictured above. Every minute in the van I was constantly absorbing the incredible alpine views, it was utterly beautiful. We stopped of at Mount Robson, the highest point in the rockies, for a short hike up to Kinney Lake, where we all decided to jump in… not quite realising how cold these mountain lakes were, think it was safe to say we didn’t make that mistake again! Our first hike of the trip was also the most eventful of them all, with a near death experience occurring halfway in, a tree collapsing over the footpath, it sounds dramatic, because it was dramatic, all we could hear was a loud snapping sound and all of a sudden the tree collapsing behind us as we all ran for our lives… great bonding experience for the group though!
If you weren’t already aware, Canada is a huge, vast country and the drives were certainly sweet but definitely not short… We stopped off in a little town named Liloette before heading to Fort Berens Winery, which was a beautiful vineyard in the middle of nowhere, for an afternoon of wine tasting, we obviously all then had to buy a bottle or two… Liloette honestly felt like we had stepped back in time into this little, quaint town where everyone knows each other, I loved it.
Our first long drive was a very entertaining one at that… whilst driving to see the salmon jumping at Dawson falls, not only did we see our first black bear run out on us in the middle of the road but our trailer also fell off the van. All 12 of us were out of the van, teamwork at its finest, trying to push and lift the trailer back onto the van, in the middle of no where (really as dramatic as it sounds). After an incredibly adventurous day we retired to a cowboy ranch for a night full of great food (cooked by yours truly) and a lot of wine…. thanks to the ladies at Fort Berens!
Jasper was next on our list, and definitely one of my favourite parts of the trip. Jasper town is like a tiny model railway village. It’s a really quaint, old fashioned town that welcomed us with warm arms. I explored around the railway and did a little shopping before heading to our camp where we saw our first Elk… those guys are big buggers let me tell you that, wouldn’t want to share a tent with one of them! We visited Maligne Lake for a spot of canoeing and coffee. It was so windy which made canoeing a bit of a challenge, the whole group managed to climb into one canoe (optimum photo opportunity guys, come on). We also went out for food and some drinks in Jasper, I loved this night as we went to a quirky little bar, great pub food. It was great for the group to all just have a fun evening, no cooking or cleaning, playing pool and I tried my first ever Canadian delicacy…. POUTINÉ – essentially cheesy chips with gravy – something I thought I would hate but ended up loving and having at any given opportunity! **I have since tried making it at home but failed.**
Our next day was possibly my favourite day of all. We hiked the Athabaskan Glacier. I wasn’t mentally or psychically prepared for this challenge…. it was quite a walk but the most incredible experience. How many people can say they have drunk ice cold water from a glacier itself or even nibbled on an ice cube straight from a glacier?!
I remember driving round to Banff when we stopped off at Peyto lake. My mouth genuinely hit the ground. I feel like I just need to point out that this photo has not been edited in any way, it 100% looked like this in real life, it was definitely a pinch me moment.
We arrived in Banff celebrating one of girls birthday, the only way possible… ordering a whole load of pizzas before hitting Banff for a night out. Banff is a fantastic place, a little more modern than jasper, but still felt like a toy village. There’s so much going on, a massive shopping centre, loads of bars and places to eat not to mention all the fun activities you can get up to and explore in the day time.
We decided it would be fun to see Banff from a different point of view… riding these beautiful horses through the mountain forests was such an incredible moment on this trip and something I would highly recommend to anyone paying Banff a visit in the summer.
Our next day was just an Instagram dream… we set off super early to get to Morraine lake. This is honestly one of the most incredible views EVER. I put this lake up there with seeing the grand canyon for the first time. It just didn’t seem real, everything was so still and quiet, it looked just like a photo backdrop. I sat with the whole group just taking in the utter beauty of this lake and enjoyed the views of the 10 peak valley, the sunrise and stunning colours projecting from the lake. And as if Moraine Lake wasn’t enough beauty for one day, next up we hit the road again to the famous, Lake Louise. This was definitely on my bucket list and a main reason for booking this trip. I couldn’t wait to visit here and get my photo stood by the pristine, ice blue lake with the incredible mountains surrounding it. Obviously being the poser I am, had to take it a step too far and ended up on my arse, in the lake… the photo was so worth it though! After getting as many photos of the lake as my phone could take, we did the tea house hike, saw Lake Agnes and enjoyed the views and wild life where I made a few chipmunk pals…
The Hike in the scorching heat was really difficult, my knees were killing me, but it was so worth it with the incredible views and surroundings. The ice-cream at the bottom also really helped. That evening our tour leader took us to the Banff Hot Springs, which was exactly what was needed after a long day of hiking and walking.
Yoho National Park was next up on the list, we had an epic drive with the Jurassic Park soundtrack playing as we rocked up to Takaawow falls, it was just insane. The photos really don’t do this justice, I could have spent all day just looking at this waterfall and the beautiful surroundings. There are some great hiking opportunities wherever you go in BC, but I would definitely say Yoho has something beautiful to offer. After chasing the waterfalls and stopping for quick lunch break we were back on the road to see Emerald Lake. I completely fell in love with Emerald lake. It was a lot quieter than Lake Louise and the Lake was so calm and still so we decided to have another attempt of canoeing. I honestly didn’t want this day to end. Being out on the lake, canoeing and having the sun shining down on us was just perfect. I don’t think i have ever felt more relaxed.
After exploring the wonders that Yoho had to offer it was time to leave and headed to our penultimate location, a little town called Golden. This was a bit of a ghost town but equally I had such a fun time here, meeting locals and dancing around the camp. One thing Golden is known for is the Kicking Horse River and the awesome white water rafting opportunities. We split up into two teams and had our own chants, learnt all the manoeuvres, had an awesome BBQ lunch and this turned out to be one of my favourite days of the whole trip and an experience I will never forget.
It was time to hit the road again, and as we were leaving the Rockies, we drove through Glacier National Park, which is argued the most stunning of them all in the Canadian Rockies, however it was badly affected by the wild fires whilst I was there so we were unable to see anything!
We arrived at Penotaneake Resort, which was in the middle of no where, a really cute lake house and campsite. We pitched up our tents for the very last time and made a buffet fit for a king to celebrate our last night on trek. It was a perfect end to an incredible road trip before heading back to Vancouver. We were so lucky and managed to see 3 more black bears on the journey back, my photos weren’t great but I was delighted that we managed to see them as that was one of the main things I was excited for on this trip.
I was so fortunate that I had such a fab trek family (much like last years). We were all solo travellers and all got on so well which just makes the whole experience so much more special and enjoyable. We all had at least a day or two in Vancouver after the trip so most us planned to meet up over the weekend to finish off our trips and we ended our last trek day with a family meal out in Vancouver.
I honestly had the best time, I fell in love with Canada and can’t wait to go back as I only really scratched the surface. I found this trip inspiring in so many ways, i loved pushing myself further outside my comfort zone again and thoroughly enjoyed going back to basics and camping so much more than I thought I would. I can’t wait to plan more outdoorsy trips in the future.
Canada, you have stolen my heart.