One of my fondest memories that captured the beauty of the Nature in the North American West are from a visit to Banff National Park and Lake Louise in Canada. The stark mountains, glaciers and crystal clear lakes are captivating sights and make it one of the best nature experiences you can find in North America!
Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, is the oldest national park in Canada, established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains. With a size of 6,641 km2 there is plenty of room to get away and enjoy nature the way it was, with bears and moose roaming through the park.
While the railroads were the first means for visitors to reach the park, I arrived by car from Calgary about 130km to the East and the drive into the park was a great introduction to the stunning landscape, surrounded by pine forests and stark mountains reaching up into the sky. I grew up in Germany and visited the Alps many times, yet there is something special about the remoteness and emptiness one feels in the Rocky Mountains – making it somehow feel wilder and more challenging!
Banff, my base for this trip, is a nice town on its own and you have stunning views from the nearby Sulphur Mountain over the valley, the river cutting through it and the backdrop of the majestic mountains. These views alone, easily achieved with a gondola ride to the top, would be enough to make the trip to Banff, yet there is so much more to see!
The biggest impression of the National Park and the image that I will always keep in my mind was from the early morning visit to Lake Louise. The lake was crystal clear and still, reflecting the snowcapped mountains like a mirror.
I just stood there for a while to take in the views and have this image of the beautiful landscape sink in! I took plenty of photos with the intention to take more after some hiking, yet as so many things in nature, it was a fleeting image, with wind rippling the surface of the lake in the afternoon. It does pay to get up early to experience nature – and take photos!
Fortunately, there are so many more beautiful sights in the park. I went on a day hike to Mirror Lake, Lake Anges and the Big Beehive, with stunning views of the mountains, forests and lakes. And despite of the millions of visitors who come to Banff every year, it never felt like that on the many trails – you can still imagine having the wilderness all to yourself!
If you want to experience wilderness and nature as it used to be – or if you give your children growing up in the city a chance to see nature, Banff National Park is a great place to do it – it’s easy to reach and I’m sure you’ll have your very own images of the park that you’ll never forget!