Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Canada's Lake Louise is the postcard perfect mountain scene

Heading to Lake Louise

Deb and Beverly hike on the Lower
Falls trail at Johnston Canyon in
Banff National Park in Canada.
Before leaving Banff, we took an hour to soothe tired muscles at Banff’s Upper Hot Springs—just as visitors have done for more than 125 years. Water flows out of the mountain at 116 degrees F, but it’s cooled to 104 F, a tolerable and very therapeutic temperature.  Lunch at a popular artisan bakery and deli fortified us for the drive to Lake Louise.
Instead of driving on the Trans-Canada Highway, we took the slower but more scenic Bow Valley Parkway. Known as a wildlife corridor, the road also features numerous picnic spots, viewpoints, and hiking trails. But traveling at mid-day was not the best time to see wildlife.

Along the way, we stopped at one of the most popular trails in Banff National Park, Johnston Canyon, which drops about 100 feet over a series of spectacular waterfalls.  Catwalks and viewing platforms allow a unique variety of vantage points for scoping out the canyons and falls. Instead of just walking along the top of the canyon, there’s a platform at the bottom of the Lower Falls trail that allows you to see the Upper Falls (another mile, if you choose to walk there).  We also stopped for incredible views of Castle Mountain and Tunnel Mountain and arrived at Lake Louise late afternoon. 
The Post Hotel

Immaculate grounds of the Post Hotel in Lake Louise
Our home for the next three nights was Post Hotel and Spa in the heart of Lake Louise Village, a tiny hamlet that has been developed to support visitors to the area. Built beside the picturesque Pipestone River in 1947, the Post Hotel was originally a ski lodge. But the influx of summer visitors necessitated renovations and additions. As a result of several upgrades and improvements, in 1990 the Post was accepted into the prestigious Relais & Chateau organization, a designation only achieved by the best quality independently owned hotels all over the world.
We loved the Post (so-named because it once housed the local post office), perched in the midst of so much natural beauty. Our comfortable suite featured plenty of space to spread out--a sitting area, separate bedroom, large bath with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower, and a balcony overlooking the immaculately manicured grounds. Chairs on the lawn called for quiet reading or relaxing. Conveniently located, Samson Mall--where a smattering of gift shops and delis, a market, liquor store, restaurant, and bakery lined up in the only shopping spot  in town--was just a quick walk over the bridge from the Post.

Lake Louise is breathtaking
Reflections during morning stillness create an indescribably
beautiful scene of lake, mountains, and glacier
Towards evening we drove about 10 minutes to Lake Louise for our first look at the quintessential Canadian mountain scene, familiar to any visitors searching postcard racks for the perfect "wish-you-were-here" picture to send friends and family. Known for sparkling blue water, Lake Louise is situated at the base of two mountains with Victoria Glacier smack-dab in the middle. The scene is even more amazing at sunrise, as we found out during our early-morning visit the next day.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier





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