Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beautiful Lake Louise - A Canadian Icon

When you first lay eyes on the milky turquoise waters of Lake Louise you think you have been transformed to a movie set or Walt Disney theme park attraction – it just does not look real.  

Lake Louise has become symbolic of the quintessential Canadian mountain theme.  The alpine lake is situated at the base of an impressive glacier-clad mountain peak making this scene all the more surreal.  The lake takes on a drastically different hue when the light and wind changes and never looked the same in the three days we were there laying witness to this wonderful sight of nature.

The lake was named for Queen Victoria’s’ daughter Louise Caroline Alberta and sits an impressive 5,680 feet above sea level.  The glacier towering over the lake is the Victoria Glacier (named for the
queen) which makes this a truly family affair.  Tourists began flocking to the area that had such remarkable natural beauty unseen by many.  Increased visitation and tourist activity was the impetus for protecting this sensitive ecosystem.  The lake was first protected as a forest park in 1892 and later incorporated into Banff National Park (NP) in 1902 (which was then called Rocky Mountains Park). 

Many visitors ask how the water got such a remarkable color and want to know if it was artificially
created with chemicals.  No, indeed!  (And just why are we sceptical that Mother Nature could not create something so spectacular without our help?) The color of the lake water, as well as other glacial lakes, comes from a high concentration of very fine sediment (also called "glacial flour") which is formed as glaciers grind their way across the mountainside. 

Let’s back up a minute.  What is a glacier and what is just snow pack?  Ah, good question and unless you remember your earth science from yonder years you may be asking the same question Betsy and I did when we first laid eyes on these magnificent ancient beasts a few weeks back.  Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses.  What makes them so unique and different from snow pack is their ability to move.  Due to their sheer mass, glaciers flow like very slow rivers and while some are as small as football fields others grow to be an impressive hundred kilometers long.  The sad fact is that the world's glaciers are melting at alarming rates due to warmer temperatures.  So you better hurry up and see them while you can before they become a swimming hole for those brave enough to take on the 40 degree water..

You know there has to be a Spirit picture and here she is photobombing my picture!  How many dogs
get to swim in famous Lake Louise?
One of the best views of Lake Louise and the surrounding area is by taking a ride up the Lake Louise gondola to a lofty 6,850-foot viewpoint.  The gondola is also a great way to see grizzly bears from a safe location as you gently glide over them during your 14-minute ride. At the top you can choose to hike on one of three trails, visit the Wildlife Interpretive Center, or just soak up the sun and eye-popping views.  We chose two out of the three and I'll give you a hint which one we did not choose - no hiking boots and pepper spray were needed.

Our friends (Jane and Bill) recommended that we head over to the lesser-known, yet just as beautiful, lake that is called Moraine.  So on our last day we woke to a cloudy and rainy morning but decided rain coats and a positive attitude were all we needed to conquer the dreariness (well and a hot cup of coffee).   Soon we were soothed by the crisp morning filled with peaceful woods and melodious birds. The clouds hung low and felt as though they could be touched with the slight raise of a hand.  The dim light diminished the emerald waters but a ray of sun caught the spectrum and turned the lake that remarkable blue color this area is known for.  No other tourists were there and we were alone to enjoy this magic morning (Well, Spirit was with us!)

Oh darn, we can't hike the 10-mile strenuous trail because of bears!
We really enjoyed our stay in Banff NP and the sights and scenes that I feel only exist in this area.  But, if you plan on visiting in the summer months (as we did) just know that it is very crowded.  Our hikes started early as parking was a major problem and hoards of people descended on the trails in the late morning. Hiking early allowed us to lounge around the campsite later and enjoy the warm sun or curl up with a good book in front of our "fireplace" on a rainy day.  Besides the campground is usually the quietest place to be in the afternoon when everyone is away.

Thanks to some RV friends that gave us the "fireplace" we were able to stay warm and cozy.


  1. I always loved the color of lake Louise as a kid!
    We had a cabin on lake Windermere -just outside of Banff. I loved being on the lake in the summer surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Your pictures brought back some fond memories!

  2. We loved Lake Louise, but fell in love with Moraine Lake, returning their a second time on our trip to enjoy a snack on the pile. Banff has a short summer season, so it unfortunately gets crowded, but if you want to be able to see the best of the sites, you have to be there in the summer. This is when being early birders helps as you can beat the crowds ... especially the tour groups ... by getting an early start.

    1. I only wish we had gone to Moraine earlier in our stay so we could have spent more time there. Sure is beautiful.

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