(Reminder: this post is being published well after our visit, we are currently in Portland Oregon until Sept 4th)
We spent four nights in Calgary (using Mike’s fourth night free benefit from his Citi card) at the airport Hyatt Place. After the “legendary” it was so nice to be in a well appointed hotel.
We looked at staying downtown but parking was an issue and since the real reason we were in Calgary was to visit Banff National Park, this location was great as it was close to the ring road around Calgary.
We left very early for the hour and a half drive to Banff in the hopes we would beat the summer crowds. The drive was great once we got out of rush hour traffic and there were beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies.
We reached the village of Banff about 8 am well ahead of the crowds. We bought a picnic lunch and had a walkabout the little town.
We then returned to the highway headed towards Lake Louise. This is the place one always hears and sees about when folks talk about Banff.
When we got close to the exit for Lake Louise, there were signs saying the parking lot was full and to use the overflow lot and take the shuttle bus. Based on our experience at Yellowstone we were hopeful we would find a parking spot by simply driving through the lot once or twice, so we continued on into the lake Louise area.
Unlike Yellowstone, at Banff or at least at Lake Louise they simply close the lots when they get full and apparently do not take a count of cars going in and out. So we were stuck in traffic for at least an hour. Argggh!
Since it was almost lunchtime we decided to take the old highway back towards Banff Village and have a picnic lunch and to see some of the beautiful sites along that road.
The first spot was a turnoff near the railway where the title picture was taken. This was the spot where the iconic poster advertising the train and park was set.
Of course real life isn’t quite as romantic but it is beautiful!
After our picnic, we continued on to the lakes along the road.
About 2:30 we headed back towards Lake Louise thinking the crowds might be reduced and that the parking lot would be we open. However, the signs were still up on the highway to use the remote lot so we turned in but were stopped and told that they were now out of shuttle tickets. Arghhh!
We made one last attempt to drive ourselves into Lake Louise hoping against hope that the parking lots would be open. But as before they were barricaded off and we were turned away even though we could see empty parking spaces.At this point frustration reigned and so we headed back towards Calgary.
While our day had not gone as planned and we had not seen what is supposedly the centerpiece of Banff National Park we had enjoyed our day and seen some beautiful sites.
We planned on visiting Jasper National Park later in our trip and since the two parks are adjacent we agreed we would give Lake Louise one more chance later in the week.
Stay tuned to see how that plan works out!