This past summer my mom, younger sister and myself took a vacation to Calgary, Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana. We wanted to see both Banff National Park and Glacier National Park and figured out that Calgary was a great location to fly into to be able to see both.
We had a late flight so we stayed in Calgary near the airport and highway. We had a 4 hour drive from Calgary to West Glacier Park entrance so we left the hotel early to get there. The drive from Calgary to Montana is an easy drive. When we arrived at the border to enter Montana we were informed that a wildfire started the day before so we would be unable to take the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park and could only go as far as Logan Pass. Driving into Glacier National Park is amazing! Once we got parking at Logan Pass we took the Hidden Lake Nature Trail which is a short hike and is partially on a raised boardwalk. The views are amazing, we stopped many times to take in the sights! Logan Pass is a must when traveling to Glacier. We stayed outside of the park at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kalispell which is about 40 minutes away from West Glacier entrance. Traveler tip:· Before you book a trip out to Glacier and Banff National Park, research the time of year you want to go. August is fire season, we took a risk and unfortunately there were multiple forest fires. · You can either park at the visitor center and take a bus or drive up to Logan Pass and park. Parking is slim, we took a chance and drove up to Logan Pass and found a spot after 10/15 minutes of driving around.
Our morning started off with horseback riding at Swan Mountain Outfitters. If you are staying in the area, book horseback riding! It was so much fun and relaxing, we ended up having a private tour, learned so much and saw a deer! After the trail ride, we started the drive to Canmore, Alberta where we were staying. The drive from Swan Mountain Outfitters to Canmore was about 6 hours. The drive took us through Kootenai National Park, there was an active wildfire in that area as well so we could not make any stops.
The drive from Canmore to Banff National Park/Lake Louise was about an hour and wildfires were a recurring theme to the trip. The air was thick with smoke. We decided to drive over to Lake Louise first, be aware that parking fills up fast! Unfortunately due to the smoke, we could barely see Lake Louise, but even so, it is a beautiful place to see. The Fairmont looks out to the lake which is beautiful. There are plenty of trails to take in the area and range in level of difficulty, bear spray is recommended. After Lake Louise, we did the Icefield Parkway drive, but again, due to the smoke it was hard to see which was very disappointing. We did pull over a few times to check out the views and visited Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake, the views are amazing even with the smoke! The last thing we had planned at Banff was the Lake Louise Ski Resort. During the off season you can take the ski lift up to go hiking and to check out the views. Even though we were told the views wouldn’t be visible, we still wanted to check it out and are glad we did. Once we got to the top we saw some hiking trails but were advised not to hike because we did not have any bear spray and it was bear season. Our day ended in the town of Banff. Banff has a beautiful downtown area with great shops and restaurants. We had a lot of fun checking out the stores and doing some souvenir shopping. My sister found a place called Beaver Tails before our trip, which sells delicious fried dough with different toppings.
Before driving back to Calgary, we decided to check out Canmore center. We stayed in Canmore because it is more affordable than Banff and is only about an hour away. They had a farmers market, we ended up grabbing lunch there and checking out the different tables. Traveler tip:· If you are planning on taking a trip similar to our itinerary, I would suggest extending it by a few days. We wish we had at least another day out there. There is so much to see and both places are beautiful! · If you plan on hiking, it is highly recommended to bring bear spray.