Perfect Day Trip from Lake Louise – Columbia Icefield

Back in 2010 I had finally got enough reward miles for my first frequent flyer ticket anywhere in the USA and Canada.

Naturally I booked one of the most expensive tickets that I could get my hands on, and ended up on a short trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Between the stunning vistas of Lake Louise and the gorgeous hikes near Banff National Park, I could easily see why this park is one my Canadian friends are most proud of.

While in Lake Louise, I decided to take a day trip further north, almost to the entrance of nearby Jasper National Park to explore the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier. After plunking down a serious chunk of change for the day trip I boarded the coach in the early morning to see what the icefield was all about.

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Banff National Park – You May Want to Wait Until June to Hike

My original intent when visiting Banff National Park was to spend most of the trip hiking and taking massive quantities of photos.

In the end, I completed the latter two. The hiking, however, was not to my liking, and could definitely have been avoided. This was not because of a lack of trails or bad views. On the contrary, there are dozens of awesome trails with some stellar views of the park no matter where you stay. The trails were not to my liking for one reason and one reason only: I couldn't do any!

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One Big Shock at Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

Two years ago I wasn't aware of the existence of a Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It wasn't until seeing the Banff Film Festival on tour in Pittsburgh, PA in the summer of 2009 that I learned of Canada's premier national park.

The film festival, which focuses on adventure sports in beautiful locations around the world, has become a world wide sensation; drawing visitors from around the world to the tiny town of Banff in the Rocky Mountains to submit their films to be aired in the festival and following world tour. From the brief introduction from the tour, I knew this was one place I had to visit.

So when I accumulated enough miles for a frequent flier plane ticket good in the USA and Canada, I posed a question to the blogosphere and twitter universe: Where should I go that is far away from Ohio and photogenic? A near-unanimous response came back from the Canadian crowd: Banff National Park!

Due to the overwhelmingly large number of votes for Banff, I booked a plane ticket to Calgary and corresponding bus from Brewster Tours off to Banff, with 3 nights in the “village” of Lake Louise and 2 nights in the town of Banff as a brief mental break from thesis writing.

My original intent was to hike around Lake Louise and Moraine Lake while in the Northern part of the park and continue hiking around the town of Banff to the South. When I got to Lake Louise, something unexpected happened and turned out to be one big surprise – the lake was frozen over.

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