a day in Banff
Banff national park is located just west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. We flew into Calgary and took a one hour drive to our hotel where we stayed for a couple of nights just outside of the park. It's about another hour drive into the park to get to all the good stuff. Banff can be a little intimidating because there is so much to do and the park is so vast. We hit some of the highlights and loved every part of it!
We stayed in a lovely little lodge called Creekside Villa, in Canmore, which was about an hour away from our destination, Lake Louise. The prices of hotels can get very high in the actual park, so I would recommend looking in Canmore for a place to stay, especially because it is such a cute little town. We loved our stay at Creekside Villa and would highly recommend it! Bonus: they also have a complimentary breakfast buffet!
Photos curtesy of Creekside Villa.
5:00am Wake up call
We went to Banff over Labor day weekend and knew we needed to get an early start on the day in order to beat some crowds. We wanted to catch the sunrise over Lake Louise, so we needed to head out the door pretty early.
5:30am Out the door
6:30am Arrive at Lake Louise
We definitely weren't the only ones with the idea of watching the sunrise over the Lake, but it was probably the least touristy time of our day, which was nice. Unfortunately, there wasn't a great sunrise the morning we went, however we got some serene time at this gorgeous lake and that made it totally worth it.
7:00am Get coffee (necessity) and cash
Right next to Lake Louise is the stunning Fairmont Chataeu that has very specific rules not to enter if you are not a guest... However, we needed cash for the tea house and coffee, so in we went.
7:30am Start the hike to Lake Agnes Tea House
This has been one of my favorite hikes to date. The scenery is one out of the movies and I love a good hike that has a specific destination activity. The hike takes you to a tea house at the top of a mountain that has amazing baked goods, teas, and overlooks. The hike and tea house is very popular. Another reason why we wanted to get an early start to our day. The tea house opens at 8am, so try to start hiking before to arrive around opening. You will also see some epic views of the sun sweeping across the mountains at this time. The hike one-way is 2.2 miles and has an elevation gain of 1,300 ft, which is considered moderate.
9:30am Arrive at Lake Agnes Tea House
It took us about two hours to complete the hike with lots of stops to take in the view. We were lucky enough to grab a table right away from someone who was leaving. We ordered tea biscuits and jam, a banana loaf, and some tea. The biscuits were to die for, so we ordered a second round and the tea was lovely. Every bit of food and tea is either dropped off by a helicopter at the beginning of the season or is hiked up the mountain every morning by the servers and the trash is hiked back down the end of the day. Can you imagine making this hike everyday just to get to work?! Me either. The tea house does not take cards, so make sure to bring some cash with your or stop at the Fairmont for an atm like we did.
11:00am Hike Back Down
12:30pm Rent a canoe from the Lake Louise Boat House
The boat house is right on the water and can vary in line lengths. We waited for about 10 min and were on the lake in no time. (They do take cards here)
Lake Louise is unlike any other. The water flowing from the glaciers into it makes it a special kind of blue that is absolutely breath taking.
2:00pm Drive back to the hotel
3:00pm Late lunch in Canmore/Shower/Rest
6:00pm Arrive at Lake Moraine (which is very close to Lake Louise) for "pictures"
I say "pictures" because that's what D said we were going to do. In reality, he had a photographer planted to take pictures of our ENGAGEMENT!
Now, most of you are not going to get engaged during your trip, but I would highly recommend going to see Lake Moraine! It is stunning and has an amazing overlook as you can see in the first picture.
8:00pm Dinner at the Fairmont overlooking Lake Louise
My parents surprised me after the engagement and we all had an amazing dinner at the Fairmont, which overlooks Lake Louise. I was a little frazzled at the time, so we didn't get any pictures, but I will say this was the best view from a restaurant I have ever seen. It is a bit pricey and totally worth it for the quality of food and view.
Let me know what you think of our day in Banff! What did we miss? What was your favorite thing that we did? Leave in the comments below!