U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Canada
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old Yesterday, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
1,878 posts, read 3,460,037 times
Reputation: 1842

Advertisements

This was my 8th visit to Canada the last 5 years and the first to the Canadian Rockies Region and boy the trips don't get any better! I don't think I have never seen such BIG mountains that close up front as I have seen at Banff National Park. The Appalachians I am accustomed to seeing out here in the East have their charm but in terms of sheer size and height are no comparison to the Rockies. I spent a total of two days visiting Banff National Park and one day walking the streets of Downtown Calgary. Here are some highlights from the trip:

(Day 1)

1) TransCanada Highway 1 - Though a limited access freeway, it holds its own in terms of scenery. I like how vast the valley (the Bow Valley) it runs in juxtaposition with the massive peaks on each side. Castle Mountain was one particularly majestic peak that I remembered seeing along this highway.

2) Lake Louise - We were very lucky to have grabbed an available parking spot after countless other cars ahead of us were waved to turn away. Were we just simply lucky or as a restaurant waitress later suspected, did the parking staff see the Montana license plate on our rental vehicle and think American and gave preferential treatment to us over cars with Canadian license plates?

Anyways, Lake Louise was as beautiful and scenic as a postcard but the large crowds gathered at its shores and the pricey looking Fairmount Chateau hotel next to it does give it sort of an explicitly touristy feel. Being a city guy, I enjoyed seeing the crowds but it would probably have been better if they were lesser.

3) Icefields Parkway - narrower than TransCanada Highway but equally as scenic. We spotted a small bear on the side of the road - the only time we saw wildlife - but it scampered away before I could take a good picture of it.

4) Bow Summit/Peyto Lake - This was our second stop. This was much more pristine scenery than Lake Louise. It was a short hike up to the viewpoint (my parents and sister, urban people who are most definitely not used to hiking of any kind, were bitterly complaining that I had them walk so far up a hill) but it was worth it in my opinion. A lake can't get any more beautiful than bright green-blue colored Peyto Lake nestled inside a magnificent valley. The scene reminded me of the Pali Scenic Lookout in Oahu, Hawaii but in a continental climate.

5) Bow Lake - The source of Bow River, this was yet another splendid lake worth seeing. Shortly after stopping at Bow Lake, I took pictures of a glacier as well but forgot its name.

All along the way to and from, I snapped countless pictures.

(Day 2)

1) Banff itself - I found Banff very touristy but I suppose it has to be that way. We were fortunate to have found parking in quick time as well given how many people were there (Both Starbucks and Tim Hortons were packed to the brim!). It can resemble some sort of touristy village set at the foot of some ski area. Whitefish, Montana closely resembles it and we (un)fortunately have several similar towns here in New England as well. At least it is easy to walk around.

2) Cascade Gardens - beautiful perfectly sized garden set behind the Banff Admin building.

3) Cave and Basin - Some online reviewers said this was an overrated tourist trap but I found it very interesting and well worth seeing. Be sure to put a clothspin over your nose if you don't like the smell of sulfur (sulphur) as you go inside the cave.

4) Bow Valley Parkway - this was the only overrated feature at the BNF during our trip. There were too many trees blocking the mountains that you can hardly get a good viewpoint. Going on TransCanada Highway was much better.

5) Jackson Canyon - I found this to be very reminiscent of Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of NY State, which is a place out East that I highly recommend anyone to visit by all means. Niagara Falls is not too far away.

(Day 3)

As city folks, we could not leave the region without a thorough look at Calgary's downtown which we did on our third day. Calgary has a very nice skyline for a city its size. I wish all American cities that size had an equally good skyline but sadly that is not the case.

1) C-Train - nice and clean, it got crowded during the evening peak but coming from the East, we're used to crowds on public transit.

2) Chinatown - good food, not as big as other Chinatowns in Toronto or Vancouver but still holds up. I couldn't find an open Asian supermarket anywhere though.

3) Eau Claire Market - This was the only overrated landmark we visited in Calgary. It was a dark and dingy bazaar like shopping mall with hardly anyone inside. We walked out of there only after a few minutes.

4) 7th Avenue - With the C-Train light rail running along it, 7th Avenue looks like Main Street in Buffalo, NY and Howard Street in Baltimore, MD but with more vibrancy. There were a few blocks that looked run down but there were busy enough blocks to make up for that.

5) The Core - very vibrant and good sized shopping mall with a good number of department stores. We did a lot of shopping here. I also liked the pedestrian mall running through it. I always prefer urban shopping districts to characterless suburban malls/centres.

(Day 4)

Crowsnest Pass - On the way back to Montana, we decided to take a different route and ended up cutting through Crowsnest Pass. The pass including the eroded side of Turtle Mountain, was very scenic but upon stopping at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and learning about the awfully tragic history that occurred at the spot, I felt ashamed to have just stood at a highway turnout just moments before and snapping pictures like an unconcerned tourist. I did have a notion that the rockfall on the side of the highway was caused by some natural disaster but I didn't think it ended with such tragic results.

Other things worth mentioning:

1) Alberta and British Columbia drivers - I found people who drove in this region to be more courteous and polite. No one cuts other vehicles off unlike other parts of the U.S. and Canada back east and motorists actually slow down for road construction crews instead of whizzing by.

2) Unique Canadian currency - Once again I had luck purchasing a handful of Voyageur dollars, 50 Cent Pieces, and Canadian penny rolls. Once again it depended on luck and friendly bank tellers and managers. I visited a total of 15 banks during the trip, 10 in Calgary, 2 in Sparwood, B.C., and 3 in Fernie, B.C. Four banks outright refused to sell me pennies or other unique currency, four were friendly and would have if they had any, five didn't know what I was talking about, one reluctantly sold me two rolls they immediately found but refused to look for any more, and one not only sold me penny rolls, Voyageurs, and 50 Cent Pieces, but were actually happy that I was helping them get rid of them. So once again, anytime you're out looking for special money, be sure to try your luck and ask. American banks are much more open to selling unique coins.

Anyways, it has been a great trip and I hope to come again to Canada!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old Yesterday, 12:35 PM
 
Location: British Columbia ☀️ ♥ 🍁 ♥ ☀️
7,558 posts, read 6,754,072 times
Reputation: 14879
Glad to see you had a good trip. I'm with you about some places being too touristy but I guess there's not much can be done about that since the tourists are the locals' bread and butter. I agree with what the waitress said, I think the parking staff at Lake Louise did give you preferential treatment because of the Montana license plates.

Come back again soon!
.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old Today, 01:50 AM
 
Location: Alberta, Canada
2,239 posts, read 1,789,935 times
Reputation: 2728
Glad to hear that you had a great trip, and that you were able to get some coins (as I recall, you have been looking for Canadian coins).

As regards Eau Claire Market in Calgary, I agree; it is disappointing. I first visited there in 2001, when it was a vibrant, upscale downtown mall, with plenty of retailers selling all kinds of stuff (I particularly remember Riley and McCormack's western gear store, and a liquor store that had all kinds of imported beer, and a movie theatre), and plenty of restaurants, from the food court to the sit-down and order style. A subsequent visit in the mid-2000s showed that many restaurants and retailers had closed, including Riley and McCormack's; and another visit in 2012 or so indicated that the movie theatre was no longer there. I haven't been back since.

Should have given me a heads-up when you were passing through southern Alberta on your way to the Frank Slide and the Crowsnest Pass. I would have been happy to meet you for a beer in Fort Macleod, and to fill you in on a little local history. Oh well. Next time, eh?

Still, glad to hear all about your trip, and that you enjoyed it!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old Today, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
8,691 posts, read 11,204,590 times
Reputation: 10417
Glad you had a good time. Sounds like you hit all the sites. Probably the only real miss would be Moraine Lake, but unless you're there literally before the crack of dawn, you have to take the over priced shuttle.


Eau Claire is a big miss. The bars around the Sheraton, Prince's Island and the Calatrava pedestrian bridge would have been a better hit than the inside of the mall. Chinese cultural centre is impressive inside. It's a recreation of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and done exceptionally well.


Crowsnest is often overlooked, and Frank Slide is tragic and awe inspiring at the same time. Probably the only thing I would have added is to backtrack and cross the border over Big Chief and skip into Waterton NP.


Thanks for the good write up.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old Today, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
1,878 posts, read 3,460,037 times
Reputation: 1842
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyyc View Post
Glad you had a good time. Sounds like you hit all the sites. Probably the only real miss would be Moraine Lake, but unless you're there literally before the crack of dawn, you have to take the over priced shuttle.
Moraine Lake's parking lot was completely full and the access road blocked off by the time we got to the area. It would have been a splendid experience but after seeing four different lakes in or near Banff and two more in Glacier National Park in Montana, I was content.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyyc View Post
Eau Claire is a big miss. The bars around the Sheraton, Prince's Island and the Calatrava pedestrian bridge would have been a better hit than the inside of the mall. Chinese cultural centre is impressive inside. It's a recreation of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and done exceptionally well.
Yeah, I would have thought the space would have been good for a food market or something. The exterior of the Eau Claire Market looks so bland that I mistook it for a food market. BTW, I also visited Prince's Island and found it and the adjacent parks along the Bow River to be very fun and scenic. Calgary does a great job in keeping up its recreational areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyyc View Post
Crowsnest is often overlooked, and Frank Slide is tragic and awe inspiring at the same time. Probably the only thing I would have added is to backtrack and cross the border over Big Chief and skip into Waterton NP.
I know. Waterton NP would have been very fun as well but as we were limited on time, we could not see everything in the region. We already spent a day across the border in Glacier NP before heading up to Canada. There is always a next time though .
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Canada
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top