Our time in Banff National Park was over but only because we were heading back up the road to Jasper National Park for 4 days before heading back to Vancouver. We had an early start as had some ground to cover before our anniversary treat of a helicopter ride!!
Part of the reason for the early start was because I really wanted to take a trip to Peyto Lake. I knew it would be brief and we wouldn’t be able to go on any walks or even down to the shore but despite all that I was super pleased with the decision to stop.
We were there early so it was quiet and when we got to the lake view point we were the only people there. It was a 10 minute walk from the car park and was a bit uphill but I believe there is also another accessible path from the other car park.
The lake was so blue and shaped a bit like a fox, it was beautiful as I’m sure you can see from the pictures!
As we headed back to the car park a bus load of people turned up, we are very thankful for our few minutes alone with that view!
After an hours drive through some awe inspiring scenery we arrived at the helicopter “terminal” – read that as field. I have a fear of flying in that I find it an uncomfortable experience but it was something we wanted to do, it’s not often you get the chance to fly over the Canadian Rockies. We checked in and were given our boarding passes (which was a little silly as we were only 100m from the helicopter and there were only 4 passengers there!)
Once they had weighed us and worked out who was sitting where we piled into the helicopter and set off for a 20 minute tour. Stu got a seat in the front and myself in the back with the other two passengers which was fine but a little squashed.
We flew high over the mountains getting a great view and even saw a frozen lake! The pilot was great and pointed out some interesting sights.
I’d recommend the tour but would mention it isn’t near the Columbia Icefield – which was our next destination.
The Columbia Icefield centre is located across the road from the glacier which we were booked to visit after we grabbed some lunch and had a wander around the centre.
When our time was called we piled into a coach and then one of their HUGE snow-bus-machine-things and up onto the glacier. It’s a receding glacier and we did feel that perhaps it’s not the most eco-friendly option driving onto a glacier but they seemed keen to preserve its majesty.
It was an awesome experience (if a little cold) and I would recommend it as long as you’re happy with the environmental impact it might be having. You can see pictures in the visitor centre of where the glacier used to be along with markers where you can walk up to the foot of it.
The driver did tell us about how a land rover once drove onto the glacier and sunk into the ice – as it’s now shrinking they expect the land rover to fall out in the next 60 years!
Our last stop of the day was the new Skywalk which is a floating bridge out over a valley which was….a little disappointing. You can only get their by coach shuttle and is 10 minutes up the road, straight after the glacier so even those not going to the Skywalk have to wait on the bus. This didn’t go down too well with a group on the bus.
Once you get to the bridge it’s really over and done within 10 minutes, you can get an audio guide but the main attraction is full of people. It may have been due to the time we were there (we also had to queue for 20 minutes to get a bus back to the car) but I wasn’t impressed with it. You get just as good views driving along the road but equally you have to sit on the bus anyway!!
We were pretty tired and had a long drive up to Jasper where we were staying as many of the campgrounds weren’t yet open. This wasn’t helped by a long distance run taking place meaning we had to drive slowly for a lot of the drive. Nevertheless it’s a BEAUTIFUL drive and we were excited for what the next few days held.
Plus we hadn’t seen a bear yet and we VERY much were looking forward to that!