Wow! We have always wanted to Visit the Rocky Mountains. It has been at the top of our list for years but things never seemed to work out. As Canada's Adventure Couple, we find that we spend more time traveling the world representing Canada rather than spending time exploring our own country.
Rocky Mountain Adventure – Part 1; An Overview
That is why when Jeniffer Wright from General Motors offered us the chance to go out west to drive the new 2010 Chevy Equinox for the Rocky Mountain Adventure Drive, we didn't hesitate for a second to say yes!
What an amazing experience. Alberta is home to simply the most beautiful mountain range we have ever seen on the planet. Driving north from Calgary towards the Rocky Mountain range was breathtaking.
We could only come up with one word over and over. Another writer on the drive Chris, used the word Dramatic to describe the drive while we were eating dinner the first night and he was right. Once those rocky mountains appeared we just couldn't get the word “dramatic” out of our heads.
Calgary is surprisingly flat, but as you drive out of the city it isn't long until the Rocky Mountains appear. There aren't any small rolling hills leading up to the mountains, you are instantly introduced to giant jagged rocky peaks.
En Route was saw the 3 Sisters, Castle Mountain and Chinaman’s Peak a.k.a Ha Ling Peak among others. These peaks are all so dramatic that they need names and the legends of each one dates back centuries.
Traveling in Style
We have to say, we aren't used to traveling in such style, but we absolutely loved being behind the wheel of our Red 2010 Equinox. The leather interior, Satellite Radio and OnStar Hands free calling made everything so easy. It was too cool when we both phoned our parents to say hello from the TransCanada Highway.
I think that the best way to see Canada is on a road trip. Things are pretty spread out and our highways offer many lookout points and rest stops. It was difficult driving from destination to destination because we just kept having to stop every few kilometers to take yet another breathtaking photograph.
We started our adventure in Calgary. After a great evening out the night before, we were introduced to our trucks the next morning. Garry showed us the features and gave us our itinerary and we were sent off to explore Alberta!
Dave and I chose 3 adventures during our stay. Rock Climbing in Canmore, Canoeing Lake Louise and Walking with a guide on the Columbia Ice Fields in Jasper National Park. I will go into detail in the next few posts, but today I just want to talk to you all about Alberta. What a province.
Our first stop was Canmore. I have heard a lot about Canmore, but didn't know what to expect. We didn't realize that Canmore was so close to Calgary.
It is only a little over a 100km drive in the middle of Kananaskis Country. Kananaskis has over 4000 sq. km of foothills and mountains to explore and 50% of it is designated as national parks and protected areas.
It is a picturesque town filled with chalet style architecture. There is a lot of construction going on as this place has grown considerably since it hosted the nordic skiing events in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Surrounded by mountains, its relativity to Calgary and being only 10 minutes from Banff National Park make it an ideal place for nature lover's to settle down and enjoy everything that the great outdoors has to offer.
We picked up our awesome guide James Madden (whose life deserves an entire post of its own) of Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and we were off to Wasootch to do some climbing. It was beautiful and the one thing that really struck us was the silence.
There just isn't any noise pollution. I don't remember the last time I was in such a quiet place. The weather was perfect for climbing and taking photographs of our gorgeous views. As James said to us “how do you like the view from my office?”
Banff National Park
After an incredible day at the Crag, we were back in our truck driving to Lake Louise. We entered Banff National Park and paid our $19.60 fee for the vehicle.
GM was kind enough to pay for our expenses so we certainly didn't mind, but I have to admit,they do need a better system to enter the park. We weren't even there on peak season and we were in line for quite awhile waiting to approach a pay station.
There was a lot of construction on the hwy and we missed our turn off for 1A. Our big mistake since we had OnStar at our fingertips. We really should have set up our route.
It is hard breaking the “Old School” habits. I had my map on my lap planning our next turn, and we could have easily just pressed a button and asked for information. Oh well. Live and Learn. Maybe we will be invited to another one of these events and we will really take advantage of the Navigation system. (hint hint:-))
Lake Louise is absolutely beautiful. A turquoise Glacier fed lake framed by mountains with the giant Victoria Glacier lumbering in the backdrop. Absolutely Awe Inspiring. I did find the Chateu Lake Louise to be a bit of an eye sore.
A quaint village would suit this setting better and that is why I was grateful that Garry and Lisa our co-ordinators from Odyssey International booked us 40 km up the road at Num Ti Jah Lodge on another Glacier Lake – Bow Lake surrounded by mountains with the Crowfoot Glacier towering overhead. This was exactly where we wanted to be.
The lodge was amazing. Founded by Jimmy Simspon in 1898, you really feel that time has stood still here. It has evolved over the past century, but if you want to get away from it all, this is the place to be. A cozy fireplace, simple rooms, no TV's or Cell coverage and the Elkhorn dining room.
It is named for, you guessed it. The many elk, bears, moose, wolverine and deer trophy's hanging on the walls. It is a little uncomfortable having all of these hunted animals hanging around you as you eat, but to know that they were killed during the early 1900's makes it a little easier to take. It didn't help that both Dave and I ordered the Elk for dinner!
This was also a perfect setting for our Interview for the Real Banff set up by The Banff Squirrel. Sitting on Muskoka Chairs with the great Rocky Mountains behind us, we were thrilled to be able to share our experiences in Alberta with the people of Banff/Lake Louise and can't wait to see how it turns out!
It was bright and early the next morning to drive to Jasper National Park to see the glacier. This may seem hard to believe, but the scenery became better and better with each turn. It is too bad our day was so busy because we could have taken hours just stopping at every scenic lookout to view the incredible snow capped peaks.
It was colder today starting at well below zero, but we luckily had a lot of warm weather clothes with us. Hey, we were driving in an SUV so it could handle our excess luggage. We had so much room in the truck that we didn't even notice the bags! Something we are definitely not used to in our Cavalier.
Columbia Ice Fields
We had to be warm for our stop the Columbia Ice Fields to walk on the Athabasca Glacier. A pretty cool experience and our first time actually walking on a glacier. We will tell you all about it in a few days.
So it was a whirlwind 3 days in Alberta, but it was definitely and amazing adventure.
We would recommend at least 2 weeks in Alberta, but the way that the great people of General Motors set up our trip, we got to see the best that Alberta had to offer in our short time there.
Stay tuned for more posts on our trip and a review of the Equinox. We can't wait to talk to you about our climbing, canoeing and Glacier Walk.
All Photo's Copyright Dave Bouskill Photography