2 picture perfect days in Banff National Park!
Why did I choose Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada?
While living in New York, we had always wanted to visit Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. However, with our mind set to move to San Francisco, California one day, we waited till we were on the west coast to visit Banff National Park. After a year in California, we finally made it there on Labor Day weekend. The blue lakes and endless mountains was what caught our eyes and it definitely did not disappoint.
Easy, everyone speaks English
Check currency exchange site
My Travel Time
Early September (Labor Day weekend)
Labor Day weekend is celebrated by both Canada and the United States, it was pretty busy at this time of year, but this is the timing that worked best for us as we knew we wanted to go there during the summer. If you want to see the blue lake as its fullest (the snow/ice on the mountains have melted and is in the lake), June – September would be an excellent time to go.
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Click here to check when the sun rises and sets
My Flight Details
Airline: Air Canada, SFO – YYC (~2-3 hr flight)
Price: ~300-400 USD w/o checked baggage
Transportation: We rented a car from the airport with Hertz and it was only 142 USD for 48 hours. We never had to pay for parking.
My Hotel Details
Lake Louise Inn: This hotel is ~30 minutes from a couple of the sights we wanted to visit (Lake Moraine and Lake Louise). We knew we wanted to stay at Lake Louise so that we didn’t have to wake up as early to watch sunrise at Lake Moraine. The rooms are a little old, but still clean. There are restaurants in the common area and jacuzzis/pool available as well. For 2 nights, it was 400-500 USD.
Wyndham Garden Hotel: We stayed here for one night since our flight was at 7 am and this was less than 10 minutes to the Calgary Airport (YYC). It was super clean, on the modern side, and had a free airport shuttle. For a night stay, it was ~80 USD.
~2 hrs of driving from YYC to Lake Louise Inn and
~Note: Our flight landed at 11 pm – 12 am the previous night in Calgary, picked up our car and drove to Lake Louse Inn. We arrived a little past 3 am.
~3 hrs of driving
Moraine Lake: This is the one of the two lakes you probably see all over the internet. Moraine Lake is an incredibly beautiful lake with the Canadian rockies right behind it. We watched the sunrise here before it started pouring. Although we woke up at a little past 4 am for the sunrise, this is definitely on my top 3 sunrises I have watched in my life. Many visitors rent out a kayak to enjoy their time at Moraine Lake (100 CAD for one kayak rental). If you want to park at the Moraine Lake parking lot for sunrise, it’s best to get there before 6am. Park rangers block the entrance once parking is full. A shuttle is also available if you don’t mind following a schedule.
Legends Restaurant @ Lake Louise Inn: Quick lunch at the hotel. We both ordered Chicken Caesar Wrap with poutine/sweet potato fries. The chicken in the wrap is fried.
Peyto Lake: This is another well known lake. This lake is just as blue as Moraine Lake and is shaped like a wolf. The famous view point of this lake is a 10 minute hike/walk from the parking lot. Most people hang out on the deck or near by, but if you want a little bit more space to yourself, walk down from the deck as there’s a trail marked by red ribbons. The parking lot was crowded but it was easy to find a spot right outside the lot, which wasn’t too far of a walk away.
Emerald Lake: Unlike the two lakes before, this lake definitely had the least amount of visitors. The color of this lake less blue and more emerald as stated by its name. There are mountains surrounding this lake and kayaks are also available for rental (70 CAD for one kayak rental). There’s a nice trail along the lake.
Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta Cafe @ Lake Louise Inn: We had dinner at our hotel and we built our own pasta. It was incredibly filling and the most convenient for us to eat there after an early morning.
~3.5 hrs of driving
Moraine Lake: We came here again because we were so wow-ed by the sunrise the day before and felt like we had to leave early because of the pouring rain. Weather is unpredictable! For our second sunrise, it was way too foggy and we couldn’t see the mountains or any colors in the sky. However, the foggy morning gave the lake another vibe which was also pretty and serene.
Lake Louise: The parking lot here is crazy and packed at around 10 am, so this is a lake you would also have to arrive early at. The lake color is a light blue and its right next to the famous Lake Louise Fairmont Hotel!
Legends Restaurant @ Lake Louise Inn: We had a late breakfast/early lunch at the hotel. We decided on the breakfast buffet so we would be able to hold up through our next hike and till dinner at Calgary.
Johnston Canyon: There are waterfalls throughout this hike and it isn’t too difficult. There is a paved trail and tons of signs.
Banff: We went to downtown Banff and walked through the cute little streets. There are tons of souvenir shops and restaurants. We got Beavertails (delicious fried dough) and a quick bite at McD’s.
The Coup: We went to a vegetarian restaurant in Calgary for dinner. Dustin had the ramen and Vietnamese coffee and I had a curry hot pot and a berry lemonade. Food was delicious after having the rest of our meals at the same hotel in Lake Louise. Paid parking is available right across the street as well.
*Public bathrooms are available at the sights listed above