Thursday, September 14, 2017

48 Hours in Banff National Park

Moraine Lake

I really wanted to go to Banff this year. So I made it happen.

Here's a break down of how much it cost for us. I went with Cody and Euzel, so know some expenses were split 3 ways.

We rented a car for 4 days: $211
Tunnel Mountain Campground Fees x2 nights: $68.49
Gas to drive 1500+ miles: around $150
For the necessities total: $429.49 (divide that by 3 = $143.16 per person)

Factor in some money for meals and food (since we camped, we made 2 breakfasts and 1 dinner at camp to keep cost down), you can visit Banff for around $200 the way we did it! You can cut the cost down even more, if you take your own car (we didn't want to put the mileage on our own so we rented), and if you cook every meal at camp, and not go to restaurants (which we ate out 3 times). Banff is doable on any budget! (We also didn't spend any money on gondola rides or tours since we had my boyfriend's dog with us. The trails and the national park itself are dog friendly though! Just not the shuttle buses and gondolas). There's a lot you can do and see still with a dog!

This was the list of things I wanted to see and do that I came up with prior to visiting Banff:
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Peyto Lake
  • Moraine Lake
  • Lake Louise
  • Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House
  • Mistaya Canyon
  • Vermillion Lakes
I plugged everything into Google Maps to see where they were located then routed our trip so that we weren't driving back and forth. Vermillion Lakes and Johnston Canyon are the 2 closest places to Banff, all the other spots are an hour + north up Icefields Parkway.

Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Dates camped: September 2-4, 2017
Miles driven: 1500 miles
Drive Time: 12 hours one way

So here's how our weekend went...
Friday September 1, 2017
We left Seattle at 8:40 PM and drove through the night. We decided to drive across the state of Washington, through Spokane, and cross into Canada from Idaho to avoid traffic.
Johnston Canyon
 Johnston Canyon
Mt Rundle from Vermillion Lakes
Vermillion Lakes
Saturday September 2, 2017
We crossed the Idaho/Canada border at 4:00 AM and got into Banff a little before 10 AM. Took us almost 12 hours to drive from Seattle to Banff.

We grabbed breakfast at Tooloulou's (definitely worth the wait), and they let us have Cody's dog sit with us on the patio! Then we walked around the city of Banff for a lil (super cute town!), visited the visitor center in town to get some info, and then headed off to hike Tunnel Mountain before we checked into our campground. After we set up camp, we headed to Johnston Canyon and Vermillion Lakes. We hiked around and got some pictures, then headed back to camp, made dinner, showered, and called it a night.

Sunday September 3, 2017
We made breakfast at camp before we headed out to a full day's itinerary. We hit up Lake Louise first, then hiked to the Lake Agnes Tea House from there (The trailhead to the teahouse starts at Lake Louise). After our hike we drove an hour north, up Icicle Fields Parkway, to Mistaya Canyon. After Mistaya, we hit up Peyto and Bow Lake, then headed back to Moraine Lake. Moraine Lake is close to Lake Louise, but it was too crowded when we were at Lake Louise so we skipped it and said if we had time we would go back. After Moraine, we headed back into Banff and grabbed dinner at Saltlik Banff for a fancy last dinner. After dinner, we headed back to camp and called it a night.
Bow Lake off Iciclefields Parkway
                                                                  Instagram worthy photos of Peyto Lake...
Peyto Lake really was this blue!
The glacier run off on the left
Monday September 4, 2017
We had to get an early start because we needed to return our car rental by 7:30 PM in Seattle. So we packed up and left Banff by 8:00 AM. We decided to cross the border in Idaho again, drove through a ton of smoke, and got back to Seattle by 6:15 PM.
Lake Agnes
 Lake Agnes Teahouse
 Teahouse treats! Remember though, cash only!
 Lake Louise, looks so peaceful right?
 Lake Louise
Oh the crowds of Lake Louise...

Where we stayed: Tunnel Mountain Village 1
I picked this campground because it had showers. The showers were also free! The camp fee also included a fire permit, but there was a fire ban at the time, so I got an email saying they'd refund me some money for the fire permit.

Where we ate: Tooloulou's was awesome for breakfast, and they serve all 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). They had a huge benedict menu which I am a fan of! Cuisine type per Yelp is considered Cajun/Creole. We also ate at Saltlik which was a steakhouse. It's rated as 3 dollar signs on Yelp, but I didn't think it was that expensive. We also got groceries at IGA, which is a grocery shop in Banff. I would say they were a little pricey, but cheaper than dining out every meal! We also picked up food at Tim Horton's for lunch one day. It was nothing to write home about, Tim Horton's is Canada's fast food lol.

Transportation: We drove, so that was cheap for us. But we also met an older couple who took the train into Banff from Vancouver, Canada! Which sounded awesome. I think most people fly into Calgary, rent a car, or bus in, the 1 hour from that town. Places in Banff National Park are not close together, so take that into consideration. From Banff to Peyto Lake is an hour away.

Where we hiked: We hiked Tunnel Mountain, which is less than 3 miles round trip and 950 ft elevation gain. Easy hike in the town of Banff with amazing views! We also did the trail to Lake Agnes Teahouse, which was 4.5 miles round trip and 1200 ft elevation gain. I really liked this hike because it's a functioning teahouse and you can buy some food and tea, coffee, or lemonade, then hike back down! (Cash only though, US or CAN!) All the canyons and lakes we stopped at were either short nature walks, or you can just drive up to them.

Overall, even though we drove a total of 24 hours, and stayed in Banff for 48 hours, it was totally worth it to me. Banff National Park is so picturesque everywhere you look! I wish I had more time there, but I will definitely be back! The park is crowded with a ton of tourists but even with all the people, it was still amazing.

Until next time, Banff!
Tunnel Mountain views
Walking around in the town of Banff
Our camp spot at Tunnel Mountain Village 1
The crowds at Moraine Lake
I can pretend there's no one around me at Moraine Lake...

Banff Road Trip Squad! 

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