I recently made a week long trip to Calgary, Alberta with Matthew and it blew me away. I had no idea how much I would love the city or how incredible Banff National Park was. The city was clean, the cleanest city I’ve ever been to in fact. The food was fresh and affordable. It was much chillier than I was anticipating (I’m a chronic over-packer and never pack for the right weather regardless of how much research I do). In the middle of June, I wore jeans and a tee-shirt everywhere. On one of the first days, I slipped into H&M and bought another pair of jeans for $8.00, which have now become my favorite, and a $5.00 wool cape to throw on over everything. This was one of the best decisions I made the entire trip:)
The most memorable day of our trip was our adventure to Banff National Park. We did a little research and found that renting a vehicle for the day would be quite expensive until we stumbled upon TURO. TURO operates a peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace. It allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles via an online and mobile interface. It’s like Airbnb, but for cars! We found this BMW X1 for only $33.00 USD/day.
We packed up the car, bought our $19.95/person pass for the park, stopped at a Safeway for fresh deli sandwiches and snacks, then made our way into the park!
First stop, Johnston Canyon. The scenery was breathtaking. The hike to the main waterfall included these pathways built on the side of cliffs. At first sight, I looked at Matthew and said “Uhh…. not sure about this.” But the steal beams are dug into the cliff side with concrete support blocks keeping them in place, so I decided to give it a try. Concrete never cracks right?
It was worth it. On our journey back from the waterfall, we actually ran into Shia LaBeouf. I know. It sounds insane and it was. He was there with three other adventure buffs filming. It was super low key and we didn’t say anything to each other, besides making eye contact where we silently exchanged a brief conversation. Shia’s expression: “Please don’t talk to me or ask me for a photo or make a scene.” My expression then said, “No worries bro. Still waiting for the Even Stevens reunion. Have a great life!” Or something like that. I later found out he was hitch hiking across North America from this article.
After my heart stopped racing from seeing someone famous (it gets me every time), we traveled to Castle Mountain. My favorite part of traveling with Matthew is the freedom to say, “I love this bridge!” and he pulls over, reaches for the camera and starts snapping photos. The colors, the wind, the sound of the water rushing below the bridge – it created a beautiful memory I will never forget. Castle Mountain is one of the most photographed mountain ranges in Canada. It is a necessity to stop here for heavenly views.
Next stop and my personal favorite of the entire trip, Moraine Lake. This is a glacier fed lake, adding to the blue color. The color is due to the refraction of light off the rock flour deposited in the lake on a continual basis. We pulled up to this lake and the crisp water reminded me of my favorite blue Gatorade. Light blue and incredible. Snow began to fall, adding to the scenic views. There was a great restaurant/cafe next to the lake we ran too for shelter and hot coffee. We slipped back outside, warm drinks in hand, to brave the snow falling from above to walk the bank of the lake. Moraine Lake is very close to the famous Lake Louise. The crowd there was a little too much for us. If you want to avoid crowds of people to explore and hike, I would recommend Moraine Lake over Lake Louise. Sorry Louise, it’s nothing personal.
Last stop was the mountain town of Banff. After a long day of hiking, exploring, and braving the elements (sunshine, rain, sleet, snow – all in the same 6 hours) we were hungry! Earlier that morning, we drove through town to buy our park passes and spotted the most adorable restaurant on the main strip. So naturally we had to try it! The Grizzly House did not disappoint. It was our first time trying authentic fondue. All I have to say is wow – my stomach left full and five pounds heavier. If you find yourself in Banff – I would highly recommend this local restaurant for the ultimate mountain dining experience.
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Banff! There is no time like right now to travel. Traveling the world can seem scary with everything our world is experiencing. But we can’t live in fear. Traveling can inspire, rejuvenate, awaken, and bring so much clarity to life.
Where have you always wanted to travel?
I hope Banff National Park is now on the list!