Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Banff National Park

Today we went out for a little drive in Banff National Park.  Banff is Canada’s first national park established in 1885.  From just southeast of the town of Banff to Lake Louise, the major road through the park is TransCanada 1.  It’s like our interstates--a limited access, 4-lane divided highway.

This section of TransCanada 1 is newly constructed and is a fine piece of highway workmanship.  Because it is within Banff National Park, wildlife is a major consideration for motorists.  A tall fence has been erected on both sides of the highway to keep critters from wandering onto the road and at regular intervals, overpasses have been built and planted with grass and trees to allow wildlife to move from one side of the highway to the other without endangering themselves or motorists.

Wildlife crossing bridge

Just past Lake Louise, TransCanada 1 veers off to the west through Yoho National Park and Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) continues north to Jasper National Park.  Except for a few short side roads to campgrounds, picnic areas, and trailheads, there are no other roads in Banff National Park.  That is except for Bow Valley Parkway.

Bow Valley Parkway runs roughly parallel to TransCanada 1 from the town of Banff to Lake Louise.  For those of you familiar with the Smokies, Bow Valley Parkway is the equivalent of Cade’s Cove Road.  It is the best place to see wildlife.

We drove this 30-mile stretch of road today in the hopes of seeing some of the parks big wildlife.  We stopped at every pull-out and view point.  We got some fantastic views, but we only saw a ground squirrel in the way of wildlife.

We walked around the town of Banff for a while this afternoon.  It’s a tourist town for sure, but much more upscale than most.  We were in search of WiFi and learned it was available in several of the coffee shops, McDonalds, the food court at the mall, and, of course, at the library.

We came back to our campground by way of TransCanada 1.  That’s where we finally saw the wildlife for today--2 deer and a lone elk.

We moved to a different campground this morning.  We are now parked with 9 other Class Cs (all rentals) and 2 pick-up truck campers (also rentals) at Mosquito Creek campground.  They say this campground is open, but it’s all snowed in.  A very large parking area at the entrance has been grated and we’re all parked around the parameter of that area.  Mosquito Creek is flowing just over the snowbank at the edge of the campground and we are surrounded by tall sandstone monoliths whose walls seem to jut straight up from the earth.  This “campground” might not be much at this time of year, but the scenic factor is off the chart.

Tomorrow, we’re going to drive over to Yoho National Park to see what it has to offer, but we will do that as a day trip.  We are not moving camps tomorrow.  We’ll be here for another night before moving up to Hinton.

GAS REPORT:  As we expected, Alberta has cheaper fuel prices--not much, but a little and every little bit helps.  At the Husky station in Lake Louise Village we paid $5.41 US dollars per gallon.  Diesel was going for $5.08 US dollars per gallon

The photos today were all taken along Bow Valley Parkway with a couple thrown in of our campground.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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