Banff to Revy
I took a road trip from Banff to Revelstoke this summer and fell in love with the area. We had a campsite booked at Two Jack Lake for a night on either end with three nights in between and no agenda.
The whether was questionable arriving in Banff from Calgary our first evening, but cleared after a quick thunder storm.
With such a gorgeous site we couldn’t pass up a dip in the lake before the sun went down. This was also the only night of the trip we were allowed to have a campfire, so we made use of that. We took our time in the morning before heading to Lake Louise to rent some helmets and catch a shuttle to Moraine Lake for a summit I’d had my eyes on for nearly a year.
We set out to complete Tower of Babel (in the centre of the photo). It’s not a long scramble, but I had very little experience on this type of terrain so I knew it would be a challenge. I was excited to try something new and push myself both physically and mentally.
We made our way up the chute and though I was slow going I had so much more fun with this compared to regular hiking. I loved looking ahead and trying to pick the best route, seeing where my feet would be stable and where to hold on with my hands. It was also nice that the stakes were low enough that it didn’t really matter if I got it wrong.
I think it took us close to three hours to summit. We stopped for a rest to enjoy the views, eat lunch, and snap some photos of the lake and surrounding peaks.
We met a couple others on our descent and tried to be extra careful not to send rocks rolling down on them as they approached us. It took about an hour to get back to the trail, leaving us with another hour before our return shuttle to Lake Louise.
We relaxed on a log with our feet soaking in the frigid water before exploring the lake a bit and taking some more photos.
Back in town we stopped for ice cream before getting on the highway to head towards Revelstoke. Our hope was to find a campsite in Glacier National Park of Canada and continue to Revy in the morning. Just a couple kilometres onto the highway, however, we joined a long, double lane, standstill of cars. Turns out that an accident just east of Golden had closed the road for at least 3 more hours. We took an opportunity to turn around and headed back to the tourism centre in Lake Louise to see what our options were.
We knew there wouldn’t be much for campsites available in Banff National Park so we thought we might head down towards Radium instead. Our idea was foiled, however, as we learned that highway was closed because of wild fires. We were told of one first-come first-serve campground in Banff that miiight have a couple sites open, so we drove over to test our luck. We were likely just minutes shy of grabbing the last spot, but we weren’t overly disappointed as it was quite possible the ugliest campground in Banff - it was just a big area cleared of trees with rows and rows of gravel tent pads with zero privacy. We decided to follow the parkway back west towards Lake Louise and stop at a day camping area to cook dinner and wait out the roadblock.
After supper we returned to the Lake Louise junction to see that though the highway was reported open, the cars remained at a standstill. We chose to use the opportunity to visit the lake and find some cell service to sort out where we would stay that night. Realizing it would likely be after midnight before getting to a campsite, we figured it was time to cut our losses and book a hotel. I knew of a place in Golden with good rates, but with the road closed from that end as well, the town was all booked up. We ended up getting one of the last rooms in Revelstoke before joining the line up of cars on the highway.
The drive to Revelstoke was the worst of my life. It took us over two hours to travel the 28km from Lake Louise to Field, but that was better than what came once traffic funnelled down to single lane. If you’ve ever driven Roger’s Pass during the day you can imagine trying to navigate it on a packed night when everyone is in a hurry to make up for lost time. It wasn’t fun to say the least. The worst were the times when I’d see a sign warning that there were no road lines ahead just as I got blinded by an oncoming semi’s headlights. I literally just prayed that I wouldn’t drive off a cliff as I tried to keep track of the tail lights ahead of me. We finally pulled into the motel in Revelstoke around 2am and I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
It was so nice to wake up in a warm bed and follow it with a clean shower. We met up with my friend Nik at a nearby coffee shop for breakfast and got some info on where to head next.
We followed Highway 23 south with our first stop at Blanket Creek Provincial Park. We explored the trails to some waterfalls and had fun creating photos in the misty weather.
Continuing south towards the hot springs we hoped to spend the night at, we reached the Shelter Bay ferry crossing. The traffic gods were against us once again as the long weekend rush meant we had to wait for two ferries, which only come once an hour, before we would make it onboard.
We parked in line on the highway, ate lunch on the hood of the car, and then wandered over to the lakefront to hang out on the rocks as we waited our turn.
As disastrous as the wild fires in surrounding areas were at that time, a selfish part of me loved the moody vibes the smoke created over the lake.
The logging road to the hot springs was as bad as expected. We drove slow in my little Ford Focus, taking an hour to travel the 10 km to the campground. We snagged one of the last available sites, set up camp and made dinner, and then headed for a soak as darkness set in.
I didn’t take many pictures of this area because I didn’t want to spoil its perfection. It was like a little secret getaway that only a few dozen people knew about. There were a couple maintained pools with a handful of people in each, but my favourite part was the natural, even more secluded pools along the river. We woke up early to explore these and it was the most perfect morning.
By late morning we were back on the logging road. We made our way across the lake without any wait and returned north to Bigby Falls Recreation Area.
The sun shining into the forest that day inspired me to no end. I had the best time chasing it through the trees with my camera.
After exploring for a bit I turned my phone on to find a text from Nik inviting us to go cliff jumping north of town. We quickly set up our tent and headed out to meet him and another friend.
I hate jumping off high things but crave to be perceived as cool and adventurous so here I am after a lot of time hyping myself up. I was much happier photographing the guys from the edge or hanging out in the water.
We sat on the cliffs watching the sunset as we ate dinner and told stories before returning to Bigby for the night.
In the morning we joined Nik and a couple of his friends again to enjoy some sunshine on the water.
All too soon it was time to get back on the highway and return to Banff for our final night at Two Jack Lake.
We enjoyed our last chilly sleep in the mountains - even making a new elk friend - before our long weekend road trip came to an end.