Kelowna to Banff

We left Kelowna this morning at 8.00am in low cloud and light rain, travelling through Lake Country, with the road meandering beside several lakes – Kalamanka, Swan and Okanagan.  We travelled through an area called Shuswap and we could see the Monashee Mountain Range in the distance. By this time it had stopped raining and the sun had come out. We crossed the Shuswap River and travelled along the Mara Lake, which were beautiful in the morning light, both mirroring the ever-present mountains.

We travelled beside the Canadian Pacific Railway for some time and stopped at Craigellaichie at “The Last Spike” which was a historical marker and dedication to the people who built the Canadian Pacific Railway and was the spot where the last spike was struck.

We continued our journey along the Eagle River on the 4 lane Trans Canada Highway and saw a Canada Pacific Train before stopping at Three Valley Gap for a cuppa beside a lovely man made lake.

We crossed the Columbia River at Revelstoke and continued through the National Park, climbing up to Roger’s Pass (1300m above sea level) and stopped at the summit of Roger’s Pass for photos.  We then travelled through lots of snow sheds over the road, which were built to protect the vehicles from avalanches.

We were surprised to find Kinbasket Lake nearly empty because of the late start to spring, which meant that not much of the snow has melted yet.

We came out of the Columbia Mountains into, what is referred to as, the Rocky Mountain Trench, which is a huge valley between the Columbia Mountains and the Rocky Mountains and then stopped for a late lunch at Tim Horton’s , a roadside cafe, just before the little town of Golden.  We ate our lunch with the Kicking Horse Ski Resort in the background.

When we returned to the coach it was time to change our watches forward an hour to the new time zone of Alberta.

We were now in the Rocky Mountains and the scenery was dramatic and ever-changing, from bare shale, limestone and dollarmite mountains to densely forested slopes.  We all got into the spirit of the Rockies by singing along with the John Denver CD, Rocky Mountain High

Next stop was the Spiral Tunnels, where we could see the Mt Ogden entrance and exit to the tunnels and a model explaining how the figure 8 tunnels were built through the mountain, reducing the grade from 4.5% to a much safer 2.2% – the spiral tunnel is 3206 feet in length.

At last we entered the Banff National Park, where there are many animal overpasses so that the animals can cross the highway safely.  We travelled into the Bow Valley and could see the Bow River and finally arrived at Banff at about 5.30pm, Alberta time, driving through the town to the beautiful, castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs, where we are staying for two nights.

Banff has an elevation of 1463m and is the community with the second highest elevation in Canada after Lake Louise.

We walked into our hotel room on the 5th floor to be greeted by a magnificent view of the Bow River and snow capped mountains.  We got freshened up and had hors d’oeuvres with some of our fellow travellers in the lounge on our floor, before heading downstairs to the Bow Valley Grill for a scrumptious three-course dinner.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day today, once again taking many photos, which will not be able to do the scenery justice.  As we were driving along, the people on one side of the bus would be trying to get a photo of a snow capped mountain or a beautifully coloured lake, so the people on the other side of the bus would be calling out “Ready, ready, tree, tree, gap, go, go, tree” all in fits of laughter trying to help the others to get the perfect shot!

Although it was another long day, again the time went quickly because of our frequent stops and lots of interesting and beautiful things to see, as well as the factual and sometimes funny stories that Inge tells us along the way.

2 Responses to “Kelowna to Banff”

  1. Janet says:

    That reminds me of Adrian and Dad trying to get the perfect photos in Scotland. Sounds like fun 🙂

  2. Maria says:

    Gorgeous photos and stunning scenery – wish we were there 🙂

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