Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Banff, Alberta --- Banff National Park

Expansive View of Bow River Valley --- Banff National Park

Roger here....  Sorry for the delay in posting.  We have been without working internet for several days. 


 The short (one-hour) drive from Lake Louise to the Tunnel Mountain (full-hookup) park just outside of the town of Banff was uneventful.  The town of Banff is actually inside Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  We did need to wait in a parking lot for a couple of hours due to the fact that our arrival would have been before check-in.  No big deal other than worrying about finding a place to park in busy Lake Louise. 

 The Tunnel Mountain Trailer Park was really nice (until the last three days of our visit --- more on that later).  The terraced pull-through sites were large, surrounded by pine trees, and fairly private.  The photo above was taken at the park on a sunny day.

Unfortunately, most of the days during our week here looked like this.  It was frustrating to be in such a beautiful place, but not able to totally enjoy it.  Better weather would have made our visit nicer, but we still enjoyed our time there.

There was no warning of grizzlies here, but there were wolf warnings all over the place.  When we checked in we were informed that if our campsite was not totally clean (including propane grills), that the items would be confiscated and that we would be fined up to $2500 with a required court appearance.  The ranger told us that a pack of wolves had been active in the campground.  We did not see any grizzlies at Lake Louise, and we did not see any wolves at Tunnel Mountain.  However,.....

.... look at the nice picture that we took on one of the park roads.

Now, look at this view along the same road that was taken by CBC News a week before we arrived.  Yikes!

Photo citation: wolves at Tunnel Mountain campground, CBC news.
Due to the fact that we were required to put our grill back in a bay after each meal (unless we were sitting next to it), I grilled three evenings worth of meat at one time during a break in the ever-present rain.  I had no intention of sitting in the rain while the grill cooled.  The pre-grilled, nuked hamburgers and chicken were still tasty. 

Bandido loves climbing up onto picnic tables (better to watch the squirrels).
 Please do not think that it rained all the time.  It did not.  The problem was that we were never sure when the rains would reappear.  We had some pleasant times sitting outside in the seventy degree weather, and the dogs and cat loved it.

Tequila's elevated dog bed was placed on a slant. I am not sure whether she enjoyed sliding down or was irritated.

Charlie's Favorite Campground
Charlie loved watching and stalking (unsuccessfully) a taunting squirrel.

Dianne and I enjoyed laying in our recliners, reading, crossword and sudoku puzzles, and watching the rare blue sky.

Uh oh!  NO.  Not avis d'ebullition de l'eau en vigueur! 

Three days before we left while Dianne was preparing dinner, the water pressure nose-dived.  I spent about 45 minutes messing with our connections to no avail, when a friendly neighbor came over to tell me that construction workers had severed a water main.  We still had a small amount of pressure, so I trickled some water into our fresh-water tank (a mistake).  Two hours later, a park ranger delivered the boil water notice to us informing us that any water in our lines and our fresh water tanks might be contaminated.   Well, crap!  We boiled drinking water in an electric tea pot for the next three days.  We could still use the water in our fresh water tank for flushing and showering, but the tank might have been contaminated.  Since fully sanitizing the tank requires a half-day of chlorinating, filling, draining, refilling and draining the tank, we decided to not drink from the tank until we could adequately sanitize it back home.  This was the first of several days of not-so-great luck that I will tell you about in the next post.  

Enough about the campground.  We did enjoy our week in Banff, although it was often wet.


On one misty morning we drove into town to see the iconic Banff Springs Hotel.  Like the Fairmont Hotels at Jasper and at Lake Louise, this hotel was built to accommodate railroad passengers many years ago.  When we arrived at the viewpoint, the mist turned to rain.  

This has to be the inspiration for Hogwarts --- or vice versa.

We drove through town to get closer to the hotel, but did not bother to look for a parking place in the rain.  

We did; however, drive down to a nearby parking lot next to Bow River Falls.  I know.  I promised no more pictures of Bow River, but this is a waterfall.  Waterfalls do not count.  We both felt sorry for the newlyweds posing in the rain.


We picked a day that was predicted to be sunny to drive the Bow River Parkway.  The parkway was once the major thoroughfare through the national park between Banff and Lake Louise.  It is known for abundant wildlife sitings.  We saw nothing.  We are very glad that we spent time at Jasper National Park where the wildlife was still abundant.  We did stop at a place where moose used to be abundant, only to discover that they no longer exist in Banff National Park (due to a warmer climate).  

Our "sunny" day turned out to look like this.  :-(.

On a positive note, we were able to score a parking place at the Johnston Canyon Trailhead.  We were in the right place at the right time.

I thought the hike along the canyon along elevated catwalks was fun.  It was crowded.  Bandido was not thrilled.  But, I thought it was fun.

The river (not the Bow River) deep in the canyon was deafening.  

At the end of the trail a bridge crossed the canyon and the trail entered a natural tunnel.  After patiently waiting in line in the tunnel I was rewarded with a very wet close-up view of the waterfalls as it tumbled into a whirlpool.


I thought it would be fun to go horseback riding in the mountains. I have gone on short day trips before.  Dianne was hesitant, but was being a good sport.  We picked a day that was supposed to be sunny.

As you can see, we would not be seeing the mountains on that day.  It certainly was not sunny.

In the photo below, Dianne (in the white raincoat) was waiting next to the coke machine.  She witnessed a misbehaving horse, which did not help her confidence.  I told every employee I saw that Dianne needed their gentlest horse.
Look at all that mud.

The people at the stable were great.  They knew what they were doing and gave very specific riding instructions.  It was during that time that I discovered Dianne had never ridden before.  I could tell that she was terrified and felt very guilty that I talked her into this.  I had no idea that she would be this uncomfortable.  I was not able to convince her to abandon the ride.  So, off we went on a one-hour ride.  The ride might have been better on a sunny day, but sloshing through deep mud in the mist was really not that much fun.  

No time to take pictures during the ride --- too busy controlling my horse
My horse (Possum) was a little hard to handle.  She required a firm hand to prevent her from stopping to eat grass and leaves from the trees.  She also tried to bite other horses a couple of times.  I was VERY glad that Possum was my horse.  Fortunately, Dianne's horse (Marlin) was much easier to handle.  Dianne did great.  She did not enjoy the trip through the six-inch-deep mud and the dismal weather, but she survived.  We won't do that again.  My bad!  (Not proud of it, but I have an irrational fear of heights which crosses over to ladders, tall bikes, and tall horses.  Had I been on a short pony I wouldn't have been such a baby, but this was out west where the horses are "manly." -- D.)

On to a MUCH better day...


The weather report on this day called for an all-day rain with possible thunderstorms.  Didn't happen.  It was sunny and warm.  We decided to take the dogs on a walk that departed from our campground while the sun was out.  It turned out to be our best hike in the Banff area.  The expansive views on the way to the hoodoo formations were spectacular.

We still cannot get over the color of the glacial-fed river.

I know that I promised that I would not post further pictures of the Bow River, but the previous pictures were taken at Lake Louise at water level.  These were taken in Banff from a higher elevation, so they do not count.  Nonetheless, the views were exhilarating, as was the hike.

In the pictures below, the Banff Springs Hotel can be found at the base of the mountain.  

Definitely Hogwarts!

I instantly recognized the bright green grass below as the Banff Springs Hotel Golf Course --- a course that my parents and brother played when we were there in 1970.  (Personally, I hate golf; too frustrating for a concrete-sequential personality.  I walked around the town of Banff on that day.)  However, do enjoy the beauty of a manicured golf course.

The hoodoos that were visible at the end of the hike were nice.  They do not compare to other hoodoos we have seen (notably at Bryce Canyon in Utah), but they were nice.  The true stars of the hike, however, were the jaw-dropping vistas.

Bandido and Tequila loved joining us on this hike, but they were thirsty.  Dianne and I rested for a few minutes while the dogs lapped up a drink of water.

A intriguing feature in Canadian National Parks are the "Red Chair" vistas.  These red Adirondack chairs are scattered throughout the parks at scenic points.  I love this picture of Dianne and her girl.

Bandido and I enjoyed a few minutes of quality time, as well.

The Hoodoo Hike was a wonderful end to our days in Banff.  

Our next post will illustrate that although the joys of RVing are life-changing (in a positive way), sometimes a little stress comes into play.  To our friends... don't worry, the stressful time has ended and we are back on track with only a slight change of plans.


It was not safe for Charlie to be outside at Lake Louise, but here at the campground in Banff we had better visibility of the area so he could finally go outside.   Here are a few pictures of Charlie enjoying his favorite campground in Banff National Park: 

King of the Jungle

I might be old, but I've still got it!

I see you, Mr. Squirrel!

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