Thursday, August 4, 2016

Banff National Park

July 29 - 31, 2016:

We leave the Kicking Horse Campground at Yoho National Park at 8 AM as we want to get to Banff National Park early for a better chance at a campsite.  This is a holiday weekend in Canada and all campsites in Bannf are fully reserved.  We know they have overflow areas at a couple of the campgrounds and we should have a good chance of getting into them, but no quarantee .  We start by going to the “Two Jack Lake” overflow campground where we are told that we can’t come in, everyone there has to vacate by 10 AM, it’s only an overnight campsite when the main campground is full.  They direct us to “Tunnel Mt. Campground” a few miles away where they allow you to set up along a campground roadway with no hookups.  It’s fine with us, we are very relieved to have any campsite for the weekend.

This is Tunnel Mountain which was considered for a tunnel, but an easier route was found.  The Stoney Indians called it Sleeping Buffalo

Banff was originally a railroad siding on the Canadian Pacific Railway.  Banff was named by the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway after his birthplace in Banff, Scotland.  A couple of railroad workers found a hot mineral spring area which eventually became protected by the Canadian Government.  The hot spring area, called “Cave and Basin” then became the first Canadian National Park.  The mineral springs were considered therapeutic and pools and bath houses were constructed, which have since been removed.  The Canadian Pacific Railroad built a grand Hotel there, promoted tourism in the park and it became a popular vacation spot for the well to do.  The National Park has been enlarged over the years to incorporate the surrounding mountains, Rivers, Lakes and forests. 
The incredible Chateau Lake Louise on Lake Louise, also built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, is also part of Banff National Park which I describe in my earlier blog post on Yoho National park.  The Railway was instrumental in developing towns, farm land, and attractions all along its route. 

The spring water was steamy

In other places strange colors

And with weird white colored algae growing

Former pool area now closed

Originally, Banff was a favorite hangout of the Stoney Indian tribe who inhabited this area for thousands of years.  Indians tribes once covered Canada just as they did in the US and sadly suffered the same fate. 

Today, Banff is a vibrant town filled with tourists and much to do and see.  Actually a little too filled with tourists for me ?  

Sign at the downtown visitors center

Downtown Banff view

Five Canadian National Parks show on this map all within about a 200 mile radius

Interesting message in restaurant Washroom by
Alberta Health Services

A downtown view at dusk

We walk to the Banff Springs Hotel and then take a trail along the Bow River.  The Bow River flows very fast there with a series of rapids called “Bow Falls” which are very scenic.

The Banff Springs Hotel

View from the Bow Falls Trail

The Bow River Bridge is an attractive iron and stone bridge with very decorative Indian heads along the exterior.  Crossing the bridge from downtown Banff you see the Banff National Park Administration Building directly ahead.  It is a beautiful stone building with the Cascade Gardens behind it.  It appears that the gardens have been neglected for a long time, the cascade ponds and streams are now dry and the gardens are in poor condition.

Bow River Bridge

Banff National Park Administration Building and gardens

View from the Cascade Gardens

I'm posing on one of the bridges in the Garden

They are three excellent museums in Banff, we visited two of them, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum and the Banff National Parks Museum. The Buffalo Nations Museum features exhibits on the native Stoney Indians while the Banff National Park Museum houses an early 1900’s collection of wildlife mountings in an architecturally amazing building. 

The Banff National Park Museum built in 1895 

Norman Sanson was the curator and Meteorologist for 36 years

An incredible setting for an incredible collection

The building is fantastic

The Library room was equally great with several old
books available to sit and read

The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum also has great exhibits

Famous Blackfoot Chief Crowfoot

Beautiful Indian clothing and artifacts

The pipes were very special

It has been quite rainy, when visiting this area it is recommended to carry rain gear.  Almost every day, there will be a rainy period followed by sun.  Another odd thing in Banff, which seems to be a great idea, is that all traffic signals turn red allowing pedestrians to cross simultaneously, even across diagonally.  The lights then go back to a normal sequence for the car traffic.  Of course, this only works when everyone obeys the lights, as they seem to do in Canada.  

We escaped Banff on our last day to take a ride to the nearby city of Canmore.  It is nestled amongst the mountains even more so than Banff and very scenic.  It was Twinkles birthday so we had a nice lunch at Murrieta's Bar and Grille.  Canmore has a slightly less touristy downtown than Banff, but is very outdoors sport oriented and has much new development.

Downtown Canmore view

The Canmore Hotel was my kind of place

It is a historically protected building and for sale.  It is the 2nd
oldest continuously operated Hotel in Alberta

View outside the fabulous Elevation Place community Gym, Library,
Climbing Wall, Art Gallery, Cafe and Swimming Complex

A small section of the Climbing area

Lake Minnewanka, a short distance from Tunnel Mt. campground, is the longest lake in the Canadian Rockies at 13 miles long.  The Stoney Indian tribe called it “Lake of the spirits”.  We took a short walk along the shore of the Lake with threatening rain clouds.

Lake Minnewanka
I am finally getting the blog caught up, be sure to check out the previous posts on Jasper and Yoho National Park areas.

Next stop is the Stoney Dakota Hotel and Casino,
Twinkles and Slick

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