We had 2 options for the drive from Banff to Lake Louise today - the TransCanada highway or the Bow Valley Parkway. We chose the parkway as there was more chance of seeing wildlife along the way. It was only a short drive - about an hour.
I'm glad we chose the parkway. The speed limit was only 50 or 60 kms an hour and the views were spectacular. We used the Gypsy GPS guide which is like having your own personal tour guide. He told us information along the way and suggested various points of interest to stop at.
It was quite chilly but fine with glimpses of blue sky. The scenery was absolutely spectacular. We were surrounded by mountains - some of them sharp rocky outcrops and some snow capped. We also seemed to be following a river which I believe was the Bow River. We first came across the Bow River in Calgary and have been following it since.
A few of the suggested stops were closed for maintenance but we stopped every time we could and have numerous photos of mountains. Although we looked very hard, we didn't see any bears. I would love to see a Canadian grizzly. They are much smaller than Alaskan ones as they don't have any salmon to eat. They live on berries, eating about 1 million berries a day. We did see a couple of elk through the trees but it was too dense for photos.
Once off the parkway we headed up the hill to Lake Louise. We were able to check in earlier than the usual 4pm check in time so we dropped our bags and headed out to the lake. It was cold out there and there was very fine snow falling. We walked all the way around to the back of the lake. It was a magnificent view. The lake is a beautiful green colour and is surrounded by mountains. Right at the back is the Victoria Glacier which feeds the lake. As we found out in Alaska, the green colour of the water is caused by 'rock flour' or glacial silt. It is very pretty. The snow stopped for a while but started again much heavier when we were at the back of the lake. It didn't last too long.
After warming up inside, we decided to head down to the village. I was expecting it to be like Banff - plenty of shops and restaurants - but was quite shocked to find there is one little area with a supermarket, a few shops, a post office and a visitors centre which was closed as it was after 5pm. There wasn't even a pub. We had seen an ad for a restaurant in the old heritage train station and had seen the sign so we headed there. It was the old station with a few train carriages outside. It wasn't even 6pm but we decided to go in anyway. We weren't the only ones there. Inside it was all wood. The floor creaked and the chairs were massive heavy high backed wooden chairs. It used to be the station house and the train tracks are just outside. We saw 3 very long freight trains go past. The food was delicious.
The fog and clouds lifted and we could see clear blue sky out the window. We asked the waiter if we could see an Aurora down here. He said you can but all the weather conditions have to be just right. He said you can often see the white light moving across the sky but it has to be just right to get the green and pink lights. As least we know that what we saw in Alaska was an Aurora. It just wasn't a coloured one.
We have a day of sightseeing tomorrow. There are a couple more lakes to visit, waterfalls and the gondola.