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.
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.
The day of adventure brings you back to your hotel for a well-deserved dinner and cocktail at Alpine Social or the Station Restaurant. Ending your night in the hot tub overlooking the mountain vistas you plan out tomorrow’s adventures and relive today’s favourite moments.
Day Two – A Day of Relaxation
You spent the morning sleeping in and savouring a warm cup of coffee while peering out your window to a fresh dusting of snow. You can’t remember the last time you slept so soundly and didn’t feel the need to rush off.
Yesterday’s adventures have left you feeling fulfilled and now ready for a day of relaxation. Your much needed appointment at the spa is not something you want to miss out on. Wrapping yourself in a cozy robe you catch up on reading your novel in the lounge. When you’re called in for your couples massage you can’t help but breathe out the final stresses you vowed to leave behind when you reached the mountains.
Returning from your massage you still aren’t quite ready to venture outside, and decide to spend time in the saunas and pools to put the finishing touch on your day of repose.
Before your dinner at Saltlik, the Block Kitchen + Bar, or Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar, you transfer to your Banff hotel, where you and your partner share the excitement for a long-awaited date night. Spending the time to get spruced up, you emerge ready to spend quality time one-on-one. You’ve chosen the perfect dinner that combines both of your culinary favourites with a menu that boasts new dishes and drinks to try.
Following dinner, you make your way to the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity to take in an evening show. The pure theatrical power from the performance left you so moved and inspired you felt it to your core. Not quite sure how tomorrow could possibly top today, but you look forward to the possibilities.
Day Three – One Last Surprise
Just when you thought there weren’t any surprises left, your partner wakes you before daylight. At first unsure, you follow along and end up curled up in a blanket together, watching the most beautiful sunrise come over Mount Rundle from Vermilion Lakes viewpoint. The snow glistening in the early morning light leaves you feeling that the magic of this moment will live with you forever.
On your way back to town you stop for brunch at the Juniper Bistro. Warming yourself up fire-side with a cup of coffee in hand lets you soak in the accomplishment of waking for an early morning. Over breakfast, you look forward to the day ahead of shopping for unique Canadian-crafted gifts and souvenirs. Wandering the shops of Banff is only complete with a mid-afternoon snack, luckily Beavertail serves up fresh, hot, doughy treats.
Full of treats and delight you prepare for your trip back home. Luckily the feeling of the mountains doesn’t fade quickly. You’ll be left revelling in your adventures for weeks to come and surely be planning a trip back to relive your favourite moments and discover new ones too.