Canadian Rockies: Another Adventure begins in Banff National ParksteemCreated with Sketch.

in #travel2 years ago (edited)

Hey Steemies!

This trip was definitely too short for my liking but we got to see many amazing places nonetheless with not a minute wasted! With the Easter long weekend ahead, we wanted to get out of the city and do some exploring in our favorite landscape. I have been to the mountains at different time of the year trying to figure out when is my favorite season to visit but had never been in the spring yet. Banff gets pretty busy in the summer and winter, we tend to avoid it for the most part because us locals tend to get priced out of our own landscape and this small town gets busier than our big cities turning it into chaotic pain in the behind instead of the quiet mountain getaway we are looking for. I remember last summer, we wanted to visit and within 15 minutes of being in town, we got out of dodge as fast as we could because it was messing with our zen. Perhaps this time it would be quieter?

castle mountain3.jpg
Shot 1/250 sec. f/8 34 mm, ISO 100

We booked pretty late with just a few days before the trip, most accommodations in town were booked solid already but we were lucky to still be able to find a place at the Castle Mountain Chalet Resort's cozy cabins and suites. We have driven by and admired it on so many occasions, it's out of the town of Banff and closer to Lake Louise but still well into the National Park, @silvergingerman always dreamed of staying there anyway. We normally go camping because it's cheaper and more availability but it's too cold to sleep outside and campgrounds aren't open yet. With a long drive ahead, about 5 hours from Edmonton (why we tend to go to Jasper more often it's much closer for us) we don't generally get to the park before dark so we made sure to leave in the morning so we could see the landscape all the way there given our destination is in the middle of the park.

DSC_6124.JPG

https://castlemountain.com

caste mountain chalet.jpg

Our Cozy new home away from home was the lovely 1 bedroom suite above that came fully equipped with a functional kitchen, gas fire place and a personal balcony with a breakfast table to enjoy the gorgeous landscape and the morning songbirds along with the main shared balcony to get up there with one of the most gorgeous views. The suite also included a jet tub & separate shower in a roomy bathroom supplied with locally handmade natural ingredients & eco friendly soaps and shampoo, it smelled so great and was so gentle on the skin that we decided to visit and raid the local shop the next day, perfect for your own little personal spa vacay. Additional products or scents (the vanilla coconut line being my favorite) are also available at the general store at the resort for the same price as the main shop if you are not going to town. I highly recommend their products, they are a treat especially for sensitive skin and also have smells appropriate for men available.

rocky mountain soaps.jpg

https://www.rockymountainsoap.com/

It was very clean in the suites and a well manicured landscape with a community fire pit and coin operated laundry facilities. The one major set back for this place to be honest, it is right next to a railroad and trains were frequently speeding thru blasting the horn at all hours of the night, like in 45 minute frequencies, this made it extremely hard to get the quality sleep we were anticipating and it really took away from the quiet cabin resort experience, thankfully, it was just a two night stay...we will survive.

castle mountain chalet2.jpg

The first picture above was the view from the shared balcony that also serves as the access to the suite, the second is the view of the front balcony and the majestic Castle Mountain in it's glory. There is a quiet river access within just a short walk ( less than a kilometer) with a falcon nest on top of the bridge if you are patient enough to wait for the birds to be there, I promise you it is being used, we captured a mother and her youngs on a previous trip and we saw them flying around the river on a few occasion during this trip. The trail head for Rockbound Lake is withing walking distance, the famous Johnston Canyon is only 5 km away and the town of Lake Louise is just another 20 minutes drive along the gorgeous Bow Valley Parkway. The train may have been an annoyance but this view sorta made up for it at least for the weekend and it's in a great location for outdoor activities. We didn't let the lack of sleep ruin our special getaway but I'm not sure we would stay there again now that we know.

falcon.jpg
These 2 images are from a previous trip, we didn't have time to sit around
waiting for birds to cooperate long enough to take pictures but we did see
them flying around us.

banff national park2.jpg
Shot 1/250 sec. f/8 31 mm, ISO 125. This picture and the next were taken
from the main highway soon before the Junction to Castle mountain, there
is a scenic stop. Correction from my last post where I stated it was located
on the parkway.

Castle mountain4.jpg
Shot 1/640 sec. f/5.6 95 mm, ISO 200

magpie1.jpg
Shot 1/500 sec. f/6.3 200 mm, ISO 1600

When we arrived, we still had a few hours of daylight left but sometimes the mountains are a little shy and the weather a little moody, this was certainly the case, hopefully this would only be for the first night. After we were all booked in and all our luggage unloaded, we went for a bit of a drive along the Bow Valley Parkway Towards the town of Banff just for a scenic view hoping to get a decent picture or two and perhaps get some wildlife. The mountain peaks we could see thru the fog appeared to still have snow but the road was clear and the valleys and fields were free of snow for the most part with only a little left in the shaded areas. We tried to get on trails near the river but since it is mating/nesting season for many of the birds, trail access were blocked to the marsh areas to allow the animals some space and reduce stress and damage from visitors as it can affect their breeding patterns and the number of eggs.

bow valley parkway.jpg
Shot 1/125 sec. f/5.6 18 mm, ISO 320

bow valley parkway2.jpg
Shot 1/125 sec. f/5.6 34 mm, ISO 320

We encountered a bit of wildlife in fields where it wasn't safe to stop and get pictures, just before sunset animals become more active and many elk and deer can be spotted in the fields along the road if you pay attention. Unlike the main highway, there is no fence along the parkway or natural bridges to keep the wildlife from crossing the road so drive with caution. We finally saw a small family of deer close enough and we had to stop to let them cross, since the road was pretty quiet, we took advantage of the situation and snapped a few shots while we were held back for a few minutes.

deer9.jpg
Shot 1/250 sec. f/5.6 300 mm, ISO 500

deer10.jpg
Shot 1/250 sec. f/5.6 300 mm, ISO 450

At first we saw a mother and one of her young, perhaps around a year old eating, she soon crossed the road to join another of her young that we later noticed up on the hill but the first one was a little reluctant to cross with mom in our presence so we waited until it felt comfortable enough to join her because they are unpredictable and will run across moving vehicles and we didn't want it to be separated from the mother or end up injured or stressed.

deer11.jpg
Shot 1/320 sec. f/5.6 300 mm, ISO 400

deer12.jpg
Shot 1/250 sec. f/5.3 240 mm, ISO 800

Once the little family was reunited, we continued on our way and enjoyed the foggy landscape. Part of the road was closed due to avalanche control higher up on the mountain, we had to turn around and make our way back. It was getting close to sundown and we were both a little tired anyway, best to retire for the night. We wanted to get an early start on the next day and be up before sunrise to maximize our time here and be well rested for the long hiking day ahead of us... Joke was on us, we didn't get any sleep with the train! You win some and then you lose some, it is what it is.

park art.jpg
Shot 1/160 sec. f/5.3 65 mm, ISO 800

All images taken with Nikon D7000 and Sigma 18-200mm lens.

Cheers! X🐞X

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Nice trip! I always wanted to stay at the Castle Mountain Chalet, good to know about the train.
I have always gone end of Nov to middle of Dec and Banff is pretty much empty, and the price is good too.

I go in the fall most of the time, for the same reasons, empty and cheap but I have never been in the spring. I wanted to see mountains full of snow with nice temperatures (in the posts to come), trying to have my cake and eat it too and experience them at all seasons. They do look pretty in the spring.

That is on my list, go before too much snow flies...tough to give the
skiing opportunity tho.....lol

lol yeah, I don't ski but I'm pretty sure many of the hills were still open but on their last days, mostly just hike or do one or 2 of the tourist attractions per trip... preferably when it's not -40 but to see the mountains with the full snowy peaks kinda limits it to winter months or spring before it all melts. Spring isn't the best for hiking but the view is amazing, many of the alpine trails were closed but there was still enough to keep us busy for a few days. Town was busy because it was a long weekend but sunday it completely died down and it was great. If you go during the week in spring it's probably even quieter and cheaper.

It really is a spectacular part of the world... something I hope to be able to visit, someday. Definitely a "bucket list destination!" Looks like a lovely place to stay, too.

Great shot of that magpie, BTW!

It is one of the most beautiful place to be, I'm fortunate to be close enough to visit at least once a year. I hope you get to see it for yourself one day, so many activities to do in the area both natural and commercial/resort town.

Yes that magpie! Thanks! I'm generally not much for photographing them since they are a dime a dozen here but in full flight, I could't help myself :) Thanks for stopping by!

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Good, you stopped in order to let them cross the road. I heard that there are many and some were died crossing the road. In particular during the winter season when the roads have some salt. When I was in Algonquin Park a couple of weeks ago I have seen neither mooses nor deers on the way

Awwe, poor animals, I wish people were in less of a rush and more careful. I feel bad when I step on a bug! They like to lick the salt on the road. We always stop for them, we were even watching the road for toads! lol. It's their home we visit after all.

No way! No deer! That's disappointing, it's always more fun with at least one or 2 sightings(Jasper is really good for lots of wildlife sightings compared to Banff). I never seen a moose in Banff or Jasper yet, I used to see them all the time in New-Brunswick but they seem to hide here. We saw a couple of deer and an elk wandering right in the middle of downtown Banff, it was kinda neat, didn't have a chance to get my camera out tho.

I thought in Jasper and Banff there were mooses too. Hope to see some of them before leaving Canada (elks as well). Meanwhile, I am glad because I have seen black squirrels (we do not have in Europe).

They do have moose but not in great numbers, they are good at hiding. I have seen them on couple of occasion at Elk Island National Park near Edmonton but too far in the woods to get a clear picture. There is many many Elks here especially in Jasper National Park. Will you be visiting western Canada before leaving?

To be honest I am not sure. My visa will expire in less than three months. This is the agreement between my country and Canada. Six months is nothing for a large country like Canada.

I need a vacation!

You do, you sound busy with 2 jobs and your side hustle! Maybe with all those recyclable moneys can fund you! I know great quiet beautiful places and hikes and vacay on the cheap in the Rockies if you have camping gear and a few days off in case you need tips.

WOW what amazing shots of this beautiful area, and looks like you had a great time, and the place you stayed looks nice my camping days are over me and my wife like the comfort of a nice place these day s

Thanks! It's spectacular, much more to come, this is just the beginning! In the busy tourist season I go to off the grid places where the only choice is camping with no amneties , cell reception or internet but I'm sure as I get older that will change! I'm even surprised at 35 I still like it! Nothing beats comfort tho, but it would certainly limit our time spend in the national parks and unesco heritage sites, accommodations are really expensive especially during high season. By camping we get to go more often.

I look forward to seeing more :) I do love the idea of a vacation with no connectivity I must admit, I am a little past 35, at 35 I still loved it, by 55 the fun of it was wearing off lOL

LMAO yeah I suppose at 55 and up sleeping on the ground after 15-20 km of hiking and climbing per day probably isn't optimal or all that fun anymore!

No connectivity is so liberating, even healing. Amazing how electrical interference affects our bodies but we get so used to it and don't even notice until we get out of it. Once you get away from all that environment it's like unloading a huge burden and a detox , the body regains it's natural patterns and functions, plus it's nice to forget time even exists.

I did most of my hiking before cell towers were everywhere but still found it so refreshing fir sure it must be even more so these days

"Cozy Cabins and Suites" sounds like a perfect place to stay, especially while it's still chilly. Being next to a train track is definitely something that takes some getting used to. When I ferst went to college, I lived in a dorm next to an airport...

I bet you could have a lot of fun with a drone out there!

Oh my, next to an airport! That is loud, I feel for you! It was still a nice place and the location is perfect don't get me wrong but also very pricey I expect to be able to sleep in it at $250 CAD per night. Believe it or not we got in the last cheap weekend before the price hike for the busy season!

Drone would be fun but are against the law in National and Provincial Parks here in Alberta. I would like to go on a chopper tour one day but very $$, too rich for my blood at the moment.

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