After saying goodbye to Vancouver, we continued on to the Rockies on a bus tour through Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise. We figured it was an easy way for us to see as much of the Rockies as we could with the little time we had, plus we’ve always enjoyed learning more about different sites through the commentaries. In fact all the little factoids in this post mostly come from what we learned from the knowledgeable tour guide! The company we went with was great, I would recommend it to anyone :)
What I loved about the Rockies… in one blog post? Let’s try.
1) The mountains, of course!
Even though we spent many hours on the bus, I didn’t sleep as much as I usually do, because every turn is a breathtaking site of the mountains, just didn’t want to miss anything. There were many photos I took from the bus window, here are a few of my favourites:
And this is Pyramid Mountain in Jasper, so named for its shape. And it has a reddish colour because of the heavier concentration of iron in its rocks. We visited early in the morning so there was also some fog hovering over the lake, quite magical looking.
Here we climbed up a large pile of rocks to view Moraine Lake.
And from Sulphur Mountain in Banff comes the hot spring! It did not smell like sulphur, I was actually a bit surprised. But then if a hot spring smells like sulphur why would people want to sit in it…? Anyway. It was a historical bath house, and the interior really looks like a sanitarium from the movies (like this one)! People did look to hot springs for cures of illnesses. Not sure if it cured anything but, whether it was the minerals in the water or simply sitting in warm water looking at the mountain, I did feel like I have more of a spring in my step afterwards :)
2) Magical turquoise water
Apparently tourists have asked what chemicals are put in the waters in these regions to make the water this attractive colour. Magical rock powders, of course! :D We learned that the turquoise came from water from the glacier. When the glacial ice grind against the bedrocks, very fine “rock flour” results. This rock flour reflects only the blues and the greens in light, so we see turquoise.
This is Peyto Lake, the most turquoise of them all (to my eyes, on that particular day).
And here’s Moraine Lake. It was once on the Canadian $20 bill, so this view was referred to by our tour guide as the $20 view.
Greeted by the robot of Lake Louise :D
We were taking a stroll at sunset at bow river in Banff. The water really is turquoise! It’s almost surreal.
3) The canyons
Canyons are immensely interesting because of the different rock formations and exposed rock layers due to erosion. I wish I know more about geology so I could appreciate them more, but they’re beautiful to look at nonetheless.
This is Maligne Canyon, so named because a French explorer found it difficult to cross. I can see why.
And this is Johnston Canyon. It’s a bit of a longer hike to walk down into it, but the journey itself is beautiful, the water crystal clear with a tinge of blue, and the rocks, and all the different plants growing on the rocks…
This is at Athabasca Falls. Very powerful surges of water.
One of the things that I looked forward to doing the most was exploring the ice field! It was like stepping onto a frozen lake, in a mountain!
An ice field is created by an overflowing glacier. Even the ice is a bit blue here. There was a defined area where it would be safe to walk without falling through thinner areas of ice. To the left of Mike in the picture was a stream. We were encouraged to take a drink from it. It was not as cold as I thought, and pretty sweet.
Our tour guide let us know that we were now in the tundra region. So we’ve traveled from temperate rain forest in Vancouver to tundra in just a few days. So very cool.
Many more places to explore, definitely will return to the Rockies again.
Next stop — the Badlands! Until then, hope everyone is having a not-bad week!