I was in Calgary for a work project when we finished early and decided to take a day trip to Banff National Park. When we arrived the absolute beauty of the town took my breath away. It was like something out of a fairytale set amongst a picturesque backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The streets were lined with chateau-style hotels, boutiques, and restaurants with a perfect view of Cascade Mountain. We had breakfast at a lovely restaurant overlooking the town and then took a drive to Lake Louise. The lake was frozen giving it a beautiful and magical feel. We hiked along the beach taking in the stunning landscape. We were thrilled to see quite a few beautiful long horn sheep near the lake and along the roads. We had parked our car to take photos of three female longhorns when we noticed this beautiful male on the hill above us. We must have made him nervous being too close to the females because he came down from the rocky hillside and started walking towards us. We hopped back into the car to distance ourselves and try to defuse the tension. He walked up to the front of our car and stood there looking at us, and we wondered should we honk the horn, should we back up? Before we could decide he lowered his head and head-butt the bumper of our car with enough force that we all felt the car move. He stood up, looked at us again and then turned to walk away, the females all following him. We laughed with relief, knowing that he could have done serious damage had he really wanted too and instead had let us off with a warning. We continued on our adventure and drove up to Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The hotel looked like a castle set amongst the beautiful forest. It opened June 1st of 1888 then in 1962 the original wooden hotel caught fire and was rebuilt into the impressive structure it is today. Featuring design elements found on the chateaus of the Lorrie Valley in France, the main part of the structure has steep copper roofs, dormers, and gables. It’s architectural elements also draw from Scottish Baronial Architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement. As we entered the Hotel we couldn’t help but admire the tall ceilings beautiful stone staircase and chandeliers. We wandered through the hotel admiring all of the beautiful details and found ourselves in the Rundle Room where they serve a luxurious afternoon tea. (Seating in the Rundle Room. Look at those chairs!)The afternoon tea service was absolutely beautiful with full jars of teas that are passed around for you to smell and touch before picking your flavor. The whole set up was just completely elegant. Mount Stephen Hall was set for an event. Again the details were absolutely inspiring. The floor to ceiling windows, stone walls, and beamed ceilings had so many beautiful elements to them I could have stayed and admired them all day. I had to look up a photo of a room. We didn’t stay the night at the hotel but I knew that the rooms must be amazing and of course they are. If you are a lucky guest at this hotel there are two pools, one outdoor heated pool that we were told is beautiful even when there is snow outside, and the indoor pool, which was stunning with its natural lighting. The entire hotel had fabulous natural lighting with large windows in every room we ventured into.
After our self-guided tour of the hotel, we were told that we should ride the Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The ride only took about 8 minutes and the views were stunning. At the top, we enjoyed the rooftop observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the valley and surrounding mountains. There was a lot to explore such as gift shops, restaurants, and hiking trails. We were only able to stay a while as we wanted to head back into the town before starting back to Calgary that day.
Our day trip was a wonderful taste of the adventure and beauty that Banff has to offer. I cannot wait to venture back and spend more time there exploring all the park has to offer.