Banff, Alberta is a busy town set in Canada’s first National Park. With busy shops, restaurants, hotels and many tourist attractions it wouldn’t be a first pick for a ‘peaceful’ place.
a downtown view of shops in Banff
The sight of the Banff Springs, (Canadian Pacific Railroad Hotel) is impressive but not peaceful.
If you drive a little further, behind the Hotel and you will discover the beauty and stillness of the Bow River Falls. The sound of running water and the pristine beauty of the forests surrounding the river bring peace if you listen.
North of Calgary is the park-lands. As you head towards Edmonton the countryside turns into trees and rolling-hills. Among them are nestled numerous lakes with sandy beaches and campgrounds.
East of Calgary are the flat, barren plains with endless fields of grains to a dominating horizon. With one surprising exception. You are traveling along the overwhelming land when suddenly you drop into a canyon of awesome proportions. You are in Drumheller, the foremost authority on the fascinating dinosaurs. There you will find an huge, impressive interpretation center with fossils and information. Go out and explore the cliffs and discover artifacts yourself. Visit strange and unusual rock-formations and foliage that shouldn’t be there – but it is.
South of Calgary – my favorite. The famous Fort McLeod North West Mounted musical ride and exploring a genuine fort – the place where the famous RCMP first arrived. Just north of Fort McLeod is another huge interpretation center – Head Smash ’em In Buffalo Jump (seriously). This is where you can see native culture in its’ fullest – right back to a time when they didn’t have horses and stampeded buffalo over a gigantic cliff. You can eat buffalo burgers and other authentic native foods. You can join in – playing drums to dancing. One of my sons couldn’t get enough and became very proficient in native dancing. Then go a bit further west of Fort McLeod to another awesome sight – the Frank Slide, where settlers, not believing the natives, built a town below Shaky Mountain to their peril.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Then – somewhere in Crowsnest Pass– the Lost Lemon Mine. My story Alberta Wild Rose centers around that fascinating legend. For anyone interested, that gold is still out there but beware the curse. And I can’t forget Waterton/Glacier International Parks. This is a park – partly in Montana (Glacier) and partly in Alberta (Waterton) – and the only ‘International Park’ in the world.
Moraine Lake in Banff National park
West of Calgary – the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. From Banff to Lake Louise – you don’t need introductions. They are very famous places around the world. Both are National Parks. Lake Louise is classified one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Just outside Calgary I often took my children for a lunch wiener-roast over a campfire we tended ourselves by Elbow Falls. They loved it and it was always an enjoyable time for me as well with the soothing sounds of water falling.
The view inside the Chateau Lake Louise