Having taken the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Banff (see here), we took the road option for the return journey via the Trans-Canada Highway. The road hugs the side of the rail tracks for quite a bit of the route and winds through some spectacular scenery along the way.
Unlike the train journey we were free to stop off and explore some of the sights at our leisure. First stop out of Banff was Lake Louise – world famous for the picture perfect calendar and postcard shots of the pristine lake surrounded by the magnificent Rockies.
However unless you choose to stay in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise you’ll find it quite hard to get easy access to the lake. Lake Louise Village is actually situated a couple of kilometres or so down the road from the lake itself and we didn’t have time to park and walk from there. We continued on by road up to the lake area but found parking impossible (you probably need to arrive first thing in the morning to get a spot). There is no way of seeing even a glimpse of the lake from the road. Packed with tourists, it was something of a disappointment. I did manage to get a couple of shots of the hotel from the car as we drove along!
However we had more luck further along the highway. Crossing over the border to British Columbia, we came across the turn off for Emerald Lake, which had been highly recommended to us. As we drove up to the parking area we fully expected it to be full. Although reasonably crowded we were able to get a spot only a couple of hundred metres or so from the lakeside. A bridge led out onto the trail at the head of the lake. Part of the Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is the largest of the 61 lakes in this region. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful – the turquoise/green waters reflecting the dense foliage of the trees, the mountains in the background and the air surprisingly pure despite the post wildfire smoky haze in the distance.
The first path led up to a luxury lodge – one could hardly imagine a more perfect setting on the shores of the exquisitely emerald waters of the eponymous lake. Apparently the distinctive hue is caused by the effect of powdered limestone being swept into the waters as the snow melts and it is particularly stunning in July though it didn’t look too bad in August! The lake is frozen from November to June owing to its high altitude.
A 5.2 kilometre trail (the first half suitable for wheelchairs) wends its way right round the lake though we were on a tight schedule and couldn’t stay too long. Again, as we found in all the parks we visited in Canada, there was plenty of information about the flora and fauna, the climate and sensible precautions to take in the event of bear encounters or snow season (avoiding avalanches for example).
Although we had to get going I did have time to have a quick look inside the well stocked gift shop and enjoy a last long lingering gaze across the beautiful lake.
Copyright © 2019 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved