Proudly Presents Another

   Great Canadian Rockies  Pilgrimage

April 17or18 to 24 or 25, 2020

(The Spring School Vacation Week)

(The Spring School Vacation Week)

      Banff National Park

      Alberta, Canada

 

Points of interest
Points of interest

Summer on the Icefields Parkway
Winter on the Icefields Parkway
 

NOTE: Bow Summit and the Peyto Lake trails and viewpoint will be closed for rehabilitation for part of 2019. We invite you to explore some of the many other breathtaking places on the Icefields Parkway.

Looking for a view from the edge? Check out these roadside attractions:

Herbert Lake A photographer’s favourite. The still waters of Herbert Lake provide a perfect panoramic reflection of the stunning Main Range peaks, including Mount Temple. The picnic area provides an ideal place for a picnic stop. Google Street View
 
Crowfoot Glacier When this glacier was named a century ago, it looked like a three-toed crowsfoot. Since then, one toe has melted, and the middle toe is slowly disappearing. Google Street View
 
Athabasca Glacier A magical area that can be seen from the road, explored with a commercial guide or visited on a special bus tour. Do not walk on the glacier; crevasses and other hazards can be deadly. Google Street View
 
Need to stretch your legs? Try one of these short strolls:

Bow Lake and Bow Glacier The source of the Bow River, Bow Lake is one of the more scenic and accessible lakes for fishing. Google Street View
 
Bow Summit and Peyto Lake (Closed for part of 2019.) A short uphill walk from the parking area leads to a view of the glacial-fed, brilliantly turquoise Peyto Lake. Google Street View
 
Sunwapta Falls A torrent of plunging water not far from the highway, Sunwapta Falls are just one of the many waterfalls in Jasper created by hanging valleys. Google Street View
 
Athabasca Falls Feel the spray of the Athabasca River as it thunders into the canyon below. Stay behind railings and on designated trails. The rock beyond is slippery and dangerous. Google Street View
Looking for adventure? Step into the wild with one of these classic day hikes:

Helen Lake 6.0 km one way; 455 m elevation gain; 4 to 5 hr round trip Trailhead: across from Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint. A breathtaking lake in a valley abounding with alpine wildlife and grand vistas.
 
Parker Ridge5.4 km return; 250 m elevation gain/loss; 3 hr round trip Trailhead: 9 km south of the Icefield Centre. After a series of switchbacks you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views of the Saskatchewan Glacier.
 
Wilcox Pass 2.4 km (1 hr) return to first viewpoint, 8 km (2-3 hrs) return to the pass. Trailhead: 3 km south of Icefield Centre at Wilcox Campground. Rise quickly above treeline to the expansive meadows of this glacier-carved landscape.
 
Valley of the Five Lakes 4.5 km loop; 66 m elevation gain/loss; 2 hours Trailhead: 9 km south from Jasper on Highway 93. Five small, brilliantly blue-green lakes are the highlights of this outing, considered a local family favourite.
Looking for backcountry information? Refer to Jasper National Park Backountry camping or Banff National Park Backcountry camping

Time for lunch? Visit a scenic picnic site:

Bow Lake Enjoy your lunch at one of the most breathtaking lakes in the Rockies. A vibrant blue colour set against a magnificent mountain backdrop.
 
Coleman Creek Sit next to the edge of the water and listen to the relaxing gurgle of the river. Look for mountain goats on the cliffs.

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Banff National Park

National Park

Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park and was established in 1885. Located in the Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometres west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometres of mountainous terrain, with many glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway exte…

·         Established: 1885

·         Area: 2,564 sq miles

·         Managed by: Parks Canada

Rocky Mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, a picture-perfect mountain town and village, abundant wildlife and scenic drives come together in Banff National Park - Canada’s first national park and the flagship of the nation’s park system. Over three million visitors a year make the pilgrimage to the park for a variety of activities including hiking, biking, skiing and camping in some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain scenery. Banff is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

Ice skating
Outdoor ice skating is a popular activity in the park. Parks Canada does NOT monitor natural ice surfaces for safety or mark potential hazards.

Many environmental factors affect the thickness of the ice. If you choose to skate on natural ice, you do so at your own risk. The recommended ice thickness is 15 cm for walking or skating alone and 20 cm for skating parties or games.

Popular ice skating areas

Vermilion Lakes

Accessible from the Vermilion Lakes Drive, these lakes are near the town of Banff, just west of Mt. Norquay Road. Warm springs keep some parts of these lakes open; do not assume an even thickness. At Third Vermilion Lake, avoid the area east of the dock.

Johnson Lake

Located east of the town of Banff, off the Lake Minnewanka Road, Johnson Lake is a popular skating area. This lake can have a varying thickness of ice as with all natural ice surfaces. Ice may be thinner at the west end of Johnson Lake near the foot bridge where a stream exits the reservoir. 

Snowshoeing

Prime snowshoeing is available late-December through early April, but be aware that avalanche season in the mountains extends from November to June. Designated winter trails follow portions of summer hiking trails but not all sign-posted destinations are safe for winter travel. Use the winter trail guides below to choose a safe and fun destination.Pease keep in mind

Not all signed trails are safe for winter travel

Even a short walk can take you into avalanche terrain. Trails with a known hazard have been identified in our winter trails guides with an avalanche symbol. When travelling beyond marked trails, or past an avalanche danger sign on some trails, assume you are in avalanche country – your group should be prepared with the appropriate knowledge, skills and equipment.
Check the current avalanche forecast. Did you leave your trip plan with someone? For more information on backcountry travel and how to stay safe in the mountains, visit Parksmountainsafety.ca.
Pets are welcome on most trails but must be leashed at all times

To a wild animal, your dog is a canine – a predator. An animal may behave aggressively or flee, endangering itself or your pet.
Dogs are not permitted on the Cascade Valley, Spray River, Goat Creek, and Redearth Creek trails.
Non-skiers and dogs must stay on the far outer edge of the track set and groomed ski trails

Walking or snowshoeing on the track set portion of cross country ski trails endangers skiers who later use the track.
Never feed or follow wildlife

If you see tracks, do not follow them toward the animal.
If you see an animal, give it lots of space and observe from a distance with binoculars or a telephoto lens.
We recommend carrying bear spray until mid-December and after mid-March.
Check the weather and trail report before departing

Be aware that cell phone coverage is not reliable in the park. 
Trail reports are updated regularly as conditions change. Trails are rated for their overall condition and difficulty.
Review the weather, trail conditions, and current closures before your trip and enjoy!

Cross-country skiing
Breathe cool, spruce-scented air while the winter light casts long, blue shadows. Banff’s ski season is one of the longest in North America, running mid-November through April.  

Scenic trackset and skate skiing options are available in the Banff, Lake Louise, and Castle Junction areas. Early and late season conditions are best in Lake Louise, with optimal skiing throughout the park from late-December to early April. Check the trail report for grooming and conditions, updated Friday through Sunday weekly.


Safety and Etiquette
Are you skiing beyond groomed trails?

Not all signed trails are safe for winter travel.
Even a short walk can take you into avalanche terrain. Trails with a known hazard have been identified in our winter trails guides with an avalanche symbol. 
When travelling beyond marked trails, or past an avalanche danger sign on some trails, assume you are in avalanche country – your group should be prepared with the appropriate knowledge, skills and equipment.
Check the current avalanche forecast. Did you leave your trip plan with someone? For more information on backcountry travel and how to stay safe in the mountains, visit Parksmountainsafety.ca.
Pets are welcome on some trails but must be leashed at all times

To a wild animal, your dog is a canine – a predator. An animal may behave aggressively or flee, endangering itself or your pet. 
Dogs are not allowed on the following groomed cross country ski trails: Cascade Valley, Spray River, Goat Creek, Redearth Creek and Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court.
Yield the right of way to those descending

If you fall, move off track as quickly as possible.
When taking a break, step to the side of the trail.
Do not skate-ski on the track set portion of a classic ski trail.
Never feed or follow wildlife

If you see tracks, do not follow them toward the animal.
If you see an animal, give it lots of space and observe from a distance with binoculars or a telephoto lens.
Leave no trace. Pack out everything you pack in.
We recommend carrying bear spray until mid-December and after mid-March.
Check the weather and trail report before departing

Be aware that cell phone coverage is not reliable in the park. 
Trail reports are updated regularly as conditions change. Trails are rated for their overall condition and difficulty.
Review the weather, trail conditions, and current closures before your trip and enjoy!
 

Where to watch wildlife and take pictures
The chance of seeing wildlife is one of the most exciting things about visiting the mountain national parks. It is important to treat wild animals with respect. Approaching too closely threatens their survival. Once wildlife become accustomed to being around people, they are in danger of losing the very thing that makes them special – their wildness.

Banff National Park is the perfect place for photographers and wildlife watching. Just about any location can offers these special opportunities. Here's a list of some places to start out: 10 Things You Have to See in Banff National Park

Early and late in the day is usually the best time for photography and wildlife watching.

Tips for Roadside Bear Viewing

Rules & regulations
Please treat the landscape and its inhabitants with respect; stay on established trails to avoid trampling vegetation and always give wildlife plenty of space. Photographers who travel the park in search of good photo opportunities have a special responsibility to wildlife and fellow visitors. If you don’t have a telephoto lens (at least 300-400 mm), show the animal in its natural surroundings.

Do not surround, crowd or follow an animal.
Never put people (especially children) at risk by posing them with wildlife.
Do not stalk or pursue wildlife.
Never follow an animal into the bush.
Do not try to entice wildlife by feeding or by simulating animal calls (i.e. elk bugling).


Traffic and parking
Use roadside pull-offs and parking areas to help avoid traffic congestion around wildlife.

If you MUST stop on the road:

Pull vehicles well onto the shoulder;
Avoid stopping along roadways during periods of high traffic volume;
Do not stop at or near hill crests, corners or sharp curves and intersections;
Do not trample vegetated areas.
Safety
All wild animals experience stress when crowded by humans. This is hard on the animal and dangerous. Wildlife behaviour is unpredictable, especially when females are with young and males are defending territory during the mating season.

The following distances are applicable in most instances. However, it is your responsibility to watch for defensive warning signals and react accordingly by pulling back or leaving the area entirely. Note: The best way to safely photograph wildlife is from a vehicle or observation area. In general, stay back:

100 metres from bears (unless you are inside a vehicle);
30 metres from all other large species;
200 metres from coyote, fox or wolf dens.


If you spot the following defensive warning signals, pull back even more or leave the area:

Bears make a ‘woofing’ noise, growl and snap their jaws;
Bull elk and moose put their heads down and paw at the ground;
Cow elk flatten their ears, stare directly at you and raise their rump hair.
If you cause an animal to move, you are too close.