Although I was very excited to see and explore Vancouver, for me I couldn’t wait to get up to Canmore, Alberta, and drive the Icefields Parkway (which is one of, if not the most, scenic routes in the world) ending up in Jasper. My dad used to always say “put me on a beach and I’ll find a mountain”, and I’m definitely my father’s daughter – I love the mountains. The Canadian Rockies called to me and I felt like I found a home from home.
Canmore, Alberta is a small town about 15-20 mins from the more famous Banff where we found a chalet on AirBnB to host all 7 of us for two nights. I actually came across a post about it on Pinterest (which of course I can’t find now!), saying that it would be cheaper to stay there and quieter than Banff. We rented a car and drove 9.5 hours (11 with stops) from Vancouver up through the Rockies to Canmore. Huge props to my brother-in-law Conor for doing all the driving in our soccer mom car. Also we probably wouldn’t have seen half as much had we done the trip on our own, I’m so glad we had Conor with us.
I hadn’t given much thought to the drive up other than the length of the drive, the views were spectacular. Between snow storms and beautiful lakes, each turn and twist in the road was mesmerizing. I think I took more photos from the car than I did on the rest of the trip.
Everything is Local
Something I mentioned in my Vancouver post is that Canadians are so proud of local produce. On our first night we went to the nearest restaurant as we were starving after the long drive and I ordered a ginger ale, and Boyler ordered the local stout. To my surprise the waitress suggested if I wanted I could try the local ginger beer instead of the ginger ale I had ordered, I was so intrigued as it’s certainly not something that’s happened. Turns out the local brewery Grizzly Paw (around the corner from where we stayed) also did soft drinks too which can be found across the region (I saw them in Jasper too & should’ve picked some up!). It was spicy and very refreshing, Boyler enjoyed his stout too.
The next morning I wandered down to the local coffee house Rave, which was also a roastery. The aroma when you walk in made my mouth water. They had a full selection of coffee beans to buy by country, there must have been about 14 different bags on offer. Talk about choice! I got our coffees to go and vowed I’d be back the next morning before we hit the road to Jasper to get some beans and another wonderful coffee.
We set off to see the famous Lake Louise but unfortunately we didn’t have the weather on our side. It was still beautiful and almost completely frozen in the middle of May. A lot of people had been saying they had crazy snow and a lot of the attractions and hikes were still closed so we made the most of it.
After Lake Louise we stopped in Banff to get lunch, then the lads headed off on a hike to Vermilion Lakes and us ladies went shopping to get some souvenirs and in search of a birthday cake for my father-in-law (whose birthday it was that day). Nearly every second shop we came across in Banff was a souvenir or gift shop. Afterwards we met up and headed to hike the Grassi Lakes Trail which was recommended as an easy family hike – let me tell you I don’t wanna know how tough the hard ones are! It was so worth it, look at these views!
So it was a quick visit (2 nights, one full day) but I absolutely fell in love with Canmore and it’s surroundings. Although we were on the edge of the town, I would definitely recommend staying in Canmore – it’s quiet but I’d imagine it picks up during the summer, small town vibe but it’s probably actually bigger than Banff the way it’s laid out. It’s also about an hour from Calgary also making it easier for those who don’t wanna do so much driving.
Are you the outdoor type? Are the Rockies on your bucket list?