We left jasper and headed down the Icefields Parkway toward Banff. The entire length was filled with views of the massive Rocky Mountains and aqua blue lakes and streams. Just after leaving the park we caught sight of a black bear for an instant. We pulled off at Athabascan Falls, a much wider river than Maligne Canyon, and walked the trails to view the water crashing downward through narrow channels.
The next stop was the Icefield Visitor Center and a sight of the Athabascan Glacier. You could take a huge tractor right onto the glacier, hike on it with guides, or hike to the base from a parking lot near the glacier. We didn’t do that, but we did eat at the cafeteria. (Don’t bother!)
We arrived at the north end of Banff National Park and stopped at the Lake Louise Campground, and headed immediately to Lake Louise. The sun had been in and out of clouds all day, but as we approached, it clouded over completely. The lake is an incredibly intense aqua color, but it does require good lighting for the best viewing. It was quite crowded, but we enjoyed wandering through the lodge.
The next morning we had breakfast in town and headed out to Moraine Lake. The sun cooperated and the lake was gorgeous, with bands of gray–blue, aqua, and deep marine blue, depending on where the shadows fell. We decided to try Lake Louise one more time before we left the area. We were rewarded with a view of bright red canoes paddling across the awesome green-blue lake.
We packed up and headed to south to Banff Townsite in the lower end of the National Park. Banff is much larger than Lake Louise and we enjoyed walking and driving the city streets and neighborhoods. The most incredible sight, however, was the Banff Springs Lodge. Built in the late 1800s to attract tourists to the Canadian Rockies, it has been added on to and developed into a massive structure, well worth the visit.