Christian and I met up in Alberta, Canada the weekend before I flew back to Virginia. I flew into Calgary, where Christian met me at the airport. It was the first time we had seen each other in over a month because while I was in Denver, Christian was working in Canada. We spent the weekend in Banff National Park, actually staying in the town of Banff, the main commercial town of the park. It was established in the late 1800’s when the transcontinental railway was built through the Bow Valley. The Bow River runs through the town. Three railroad men discovered some natural hot springs near Banff, which then led Canada to establish the area as a federal reserve, set up hotels and promote the area as a spa resort to support the railroad.
The drive into the park was beautiful with blue skies, sunshine and rocky mountains (hence the name Canadian Rockies) covered with snow.
We arrived a little after lunch time and decided to visit the Banff Springs Hotel. The original hotel was built in 1888, as one of the resort hotels for the railroad. A new structure was eventually built to replace the older one and that was completed in 1928. It is a beautiful, grand hotel to visit and walk around the grounds and of course, tour the inside.
We decided to have afternoon tea there and we had gorgeous views.
After our tea, we walked along the main street of Banff, which was lined with shops and restaurants. The shops were either outdoor-related or touristy with a few regular clothing stores tossed in (ex. Gap). There was a Safeway (grocery store) where we picked up breakfast and lunch items for the next two days. The town reminded me a bit of Breckenridge, with the main street and lots of young adults. There are three ski resorts located a short driving distance away from Banff. I think many people stay in Banff and then ski at one of the resorts during the day.
Lake Louise is located 34 miles northwest of the town of Banff. The lake and hamlet are named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, one of the daughters of Queen Victoria.
The Chateau Lake Louise is located on the lake. We made a quick visit inside the hotel after walking around on the frozen lake and enjoying the ice sculptures. They had an enclosed area on the lake for people to ice skate and another area for ice hockey.
We didn’t stay too long at Lake Louise because we just stopped there after a long hike that I will tell you about later this week!