Day One – On the road
As you drive into the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and the foothills turn to mountains the excitement for your weekend grows. Past the Banff National Park gates and the exits for Banff, you take the exit for the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A), notorious for wildlife sightings at dusk and dawn. The light comes up over the mountains and if luck is on your side you may see a deer, an elk, or even a fox.
Arriving in Lake Louise is everything you expected and more. After checking in to your hotel you wander down to the lake itself. The frozen lake is donned with early morning skaters out to enjoy the tranquility of the lake. You strap up your rental skates and head out yourself. Having never skated on a natural lake before you’re surprised by the ebbs and flows of the ice but quickly adapt. A gust of fresh air refreshes you and you’re ready for your next adventure. You and your partner walk along the path to the back of the lake for another lesser-known view of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Heading back towards the Chateau, the idea of a warm cup of hot chocolate quickens your step. Trailhead Bakery or Laggan’s Mountain Bakery and Deli in town provide the truly Canadian beverage and a hot lunch. You exit back onto the Trans-Canada (Highway 1) and follow signs for the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), the anticipation continues to grow for your next stops.
Note: Snow tires are mandatory on the Icefields Parkway from November 1 to April 1
Taking in the views that only one of the most scenic drives in the world can offer, you are astounded by the snow-covered peaks. Your first stop of the afternoon is at Bow Lake, the glacier-fed lake that feeds into the Bow Valley river system, and it reminds you of your own scale. You can imagine the colour of the blue that you’ve seen in photographs below the now frozen surface.
The variety of landscapes that the mountains provide are abundant. As you drive to your next stop at Mistaya Canyon, you can’t believe the difference 20 minutes has made to your surroundings. The short 500-metre walk to the canyon gives you both a sense of solitude and appreciation for the earth’s natural wonders. Testing your footing on the snow-coated ground, you never imagined you’d be able to overlook the canyon carved by the flow of the Mistaya River.
On your journey back towards Lake Louise, you look forward to your final destination, Peyto Lake. The lake, known for being shaped like a wolf or for being named after Bill Peyto, an early Banff National Park warden, doesn’t fall short. Your quick hike up to the viewpoint delivers you to a canvas of fresh snow over the lake, exaggerating its wolf-like shape.