Can you really see all the beauty of Canadian Rockies in three days?
Of course not, but that's all I had back in 2008 when my airline credit was about to expire. I flew to Calgary, rented a car and spent tree days in the Rockies. My most vivid memory of this trip is an early morning at the shore of Lake Louise. It was so quiet and water was so calm that it looked like a flawless mirror. First rays of rising sun highlighted clouds and mountain peaks in bright red.
Canadian Rockies were home to native tribes long before the European settlers came to Canada. Mountain forests and plains provided plenty of food and rivers were clean and full of fish. In the 18-hundreds, the Gold Rush brought in many European settlers. The Canadian Pacific Railway was built closer to the end of the 18th century, with many small towns popping up on its way.
In 1883, two railway workers stumbled upon the hot springs. Later, the Canadian Government reserved the land surrounding the springs for the Canada's first National Park. Today, the Banff National Park is one of the most beautiful gems in Canada. I missed the hot springs during my trip, but according to many, Hot Springs are one of the most popular destinations in the Rockies.
Soon after my arrival to lake Minnewanka, I was greeted by these bighorn sheep, although their horns didn't seem too big. Castle Mountains are one of the famous sights here:
Waters of the Bow River that winds trough the Rockies pass through Calgary and eventually end up in Hudson Bay. The name Bow River refers to the reeds that grow along the river that native people used to make bows. First Nations people lived and hunted on the shores of Bow River for thousands years.
The next stop is beautiful Lake Louise. Originally it was named Ho-run-num-nay, which means Lake of Little Fishes. Lake Louise is a small lake at 5,740 ft above sea level. Waters of Lake Louise have a deep emerald color. Today, Lake Louise offers luxury hotel and many trails through surrounding mountains. The main hamlet of Lake Louise and a small shopping mall are located at the lower elevation, off Trans Canada Highway. The settlement was built on the site of the railway station. The famous Lake Louise Ski resort is located on the opposite side of the highway.
A short distance west from Lake Louise the Trans Canada Highway meets the Icefields Parkway also known as highway 93. The Icefields Parkway runs in the beautiful mountain valley and leads to Jasper National Park. That's the route you don't want to miss if you want to experience mountains from the comfort of your car.
Lake Peyto at 6,100 ft above the sea level is another gem along the Icefields Parkway. Its famous turquoise color makes it one of the must-see sights in the Rockies. Mistaya River flows from Peyto Lake down the valley and into the North Saskatchewan River.
If you think that you need a serious four-wheel drive vehicle to explore a mountainous highway, you are probably right. However, this Toyota Corolla had no problems taking me where I needed during this trip: