We have traveled a decent amount in our lifetime, sometimes work related, or sometimes we simply come across a picture that inspires us and go. Banff was the latter, and to date our favorite trip. When you bring up The Rockies, the conversation typically turns to talking about Colorado. To be fair, the Colorado Rockies are amazing, we spent a few winter trips there and had our share of great sites, however, trying to compare them to the Canadian Rockies is like saying the CFL and NFL are the same thing. With the Canadian Rockies, ironically, being the equivalent to the NFL. There are so many different landscapes in British Columbia, it's like taking a few trips in one. In the same day you can hike through waist deep snow, snowboard, see Volkswagen sized grizzly bears, or take a leisurely canoe ride down the river in 80 degree weather wearing board-shorts and a bikini. The hardest part of experiencing BC is believing what you are seeing. Like most trips, pictures don't do it justice, but that is never more true than here.
The first stop of our trip was a small ski town called Canmore. This place was great and with a late season snow fall, you could still feel the excitement from skiers taking advantage of the unexpected fresh snow. One of the best parts of the town is how it consisted of people from all over the world, adding to the unique friendliness of the locality, and not to mention the great food and cold local brews.
After Canmore we made our way into Banff, where we made sure to hit the famous photos that originally led us there. While the sites were stunning and worth the stop, it also had that Disney World feel with way too many selfie sticks and buses bringing herds of tourists. We took some shots and soaked in the views for about an hour then jumped into our Jeep Wrangler and headed into the wilderness, and the true start of our adventure.
We made our way out of the crowds and hit the road that cut through Kootenay National Park and into the unknown. This is the single best drive we have made. Beautiful weather, longhorn sheep, grizzly bears, black bears, and an empty road that was surreal. The drive itself made the trip worthwhile. Roughly two hours later with countless stops for pictures or just to stop and soak in the surroundings, we made it to the other side of the National Park and into the small town of Spillimacheen.
This is where our Air BnB Cabin awaited us. We had no idea what to expect but loved it as soon as we pulled up. It was basically a mini house on the footstep of a large mountain and a 5 min walk away from the river that we canoed down along with some amazing hiking and running trails. This was also at the foot of a drive we did every single day to the top of the mountain. We would either go first thing in the morning or right before dark where we would see wildlife every time. We saw a small grizzly bear scale a 20ft cliff like it was nothing, 20+ Elk, and countless deer everywhere you looked. Along the trails were rolls of chicken wire to wrap you vehicle so the porcupines couldn't get underneath your car and chew on anything rubber. It was untouched by people and there were horses, goats, cattle, and sheep everywhere you went due to the free range agreement among farmers who also worked together to make sure the stock didn't wander too far. We ended each day in our hammock taking in the evening view.
If there is one adventure trip you can make, put this on the top of your list. We flew Orlando to Calgary for under $400, stayed in cheap Air BnB places, and spent very little without even trying to travel on a budget. We hiked so many miles and every single one was different. In one day we went up snowy paths, then hiked through a hot and humid mossy forrest, then took a canoe down a river for 8 miles. After a week in the mountains we made our way back to Calgary. It was a perfect way to end a trip and really cool city filled with nice people and good food. We washed a trips worth of dirt and grit off of our gear, cleaned up, and spent the night out back in civilization. After most of our trips we reminisce and decide where to go next. With a big world and less time, normally our conversation makes it's way to, "where next?" , however, with this trip we were immediately talking about doing it again. There may be several trips and countries between when we step foot in Banff and Kootenay again, but without a doubt, we will be back.