After visiting Drumheller it was time to hit the road and continue our journey to The Rocky Mountains. Something we’d really been looking forward to. As everything was almost fully booked and quite expensive in and around Banff, we found a nice studio via Air BnB in Deadman’s Flat.
Deadman’s Flat & Canmore
We were told that groceries are more expensive in the Rockies, so we stocked up most of our food in Calgary. After the groceries shopping it was time to leave Calgary and make our way to Deadman’s Flat. When you’re just outside of Calgary you can see the mountains already at the horizon. The road keeps getting more beautiful when coming closer to the mountains. The drive takes you through the suburbs of Calgary, rolling hills and eventually the tips of the mountains.
Deadman’s Flat is a small village just below Canmore and just outside the official Rocky Mountains. This doesn’t make it less beautiful though! After checking in into our converted garage/studio we went to Canmore’s visitor center to get some information regarding hikes and other things to see and do in the area. As the visitor center was relocated not long ago, it was a little difficult to find. Signs were (we found) misleading and unclear. This made us drive through Canmore more then we intended to, realizing Canmore is a very nice and cozy village to be with all kinds of little shops and restaurants. Sometimes getting lost isn’t so bad. 😉
Before coming to Canada we knew we wanted to do some decent hikes. The Grassi Lake hike would be our first hike. This trail leads up to 3 beautiful, small, turquoise lakes. There are two ways to get to the lakes. The ‘easy’ way and the ‘moderate’ way. As it was our first hike we figured we’d take the easy way up, just to see what they call easy in Canada. This turned out to be a wide, boring gravel road going completely uphill. As going uphill is not really my thing (Paula), I found it more difficult than expected. So I was really happy when we finally made it to the lakes. The scenery was breathtaking and all the colors were so vivid! We spend some time walking around, enjoying the view, having lunch and taking lots of photo’s before heading back to the parking lot. As the ‘easy’ way was pretty busy and boring, we figured that we’d take the ‘moderate’ way back. This turned out to be very nice hike with some great viewpoints and some exciting hiking parts with rocks, water and steep stairs along the way. Our first hike was a success!
Along the hike we saw many people carrying bear spray (special pepper spray for bears). At the visitors center we were advised to get bear spray and were giving a leaflet what to do when you encounter a bear. We hadn’t seen any bears yet, but meeting them during hikes isn’t unusual. So after our Grassi Lake hike we decided to get some bear spray for ourselves as well. You never know when you might need it!
Banff and surroundings
Our days in this part of the Rocky Mountains were fully planned. We wanted to make to most of our time here and explore as much as possible, without travelling too fast. The next day we planned to see Banff and it’s surroundings. This was about a 45 minutes drive from Deadman’s Flat. We first started at Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack, two beautiful lakes just outside the village of Banff. After that we continued to the village itself, Bow falls and Cave & Basin National Historic Site. As we found the Banff Gondala ridiculous expensive ($64 per person), we didn’t feel like taking this attraction. When driving trough Banff we found the town very busy, especially compared to Canmore. You can see and feel that Banff is completely focused on tourists. Even though it looked like a lovely town, we were very happy to go back to our more quite Canmore. As we didn’t feel like cooking we went for a nice meal at a cozy, local restaurant in Canmore.
Kananaskis County & Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
At the visitors center they told us that the area of Kananaskis is also very beautiful to visit. So as decent travelers do, you listen to the local people and see what they are talking about. We were advised to go to Rawson Lake. This is supposed to be a amazing lake between the mountains and the chance to see wildlife should be quite high in this area.
When stopping at the Peter Lougheed visitor center a park ranger told us there was quite a lot of snow on the path/hike towards Rawson Lake. A return hike would cost us at least 4 hours with these conditions. Because we wanted to see more of the area we decided not to do this hike and see the Upper and Lower Lakes instead. There was also a bear with cups spotted in the area. Unfortunately we didn’t see them. Along the way towards the Upper and Lower lakes we drove through other nearby parks and made some stops at Barrier Dam, Wedge Pond and Interlakes. Even though we didn’t do the hike we wanted, this day was very fulfilling and lovely. The scenery was gorgeous and one of the best we’ve seen in Canada.
During these couple of days we’ve already seen so many beautifull things, we can’t even believe it! And the best part is yet to come. In the next blog we’ll tell you more about the last few days exploring the south of the Rocky Mountains. So, stay tuned!