Road Trip 2013: Day 8. The Road to Banff

Looking back on the road trip, I find it interesting to see which memories stuck out and embedded themselves in my mind.  My memory from day 8 is this: driving through Kootenay, with the windows down, arm out the window, surrounded by wonders…not a care in the world.  I recall thinking that this was exactly what I had been looking forward to.  The day had started out rough, and eventually I had to stop and camp in a bug filled campground, then sightsee in a people filled Banff…but for the moment, everything was perfect.  And that made it all worth it.

Day 8: Waterton to Banff – 543 km driven
This morning looked the same as yesterday. The clouds were thick, and hanging low…covering the mountains. I was a little disappointed, but the forcast said it was going to clear up, so I packed up and left around 9am anyways. I was even more disappointed when I made it to the Crowsnest highway, and it was still thick. I waited by the side of the road for a while to see if it would start clearing up and it wasn’t…so with a bit of a heavy heart, I continued, knowing that I would be missing certain visual treasures along the way.

Crowsnest Pass was an interesting little town. It had seen better days as a mining town and seemed to be slowly dying. There were several cool abandoned buildings around that I was able to photograph. The next place was Frankslide. Here a 1 km thick piece of mountain had fallen off many years ago and covered part of the small mining town of Frank. I couldn’t really see the mountain due to the clouds, but it was kind of eery to drive through an area with many large chunks of rock all over the place and to know that at one time a town stood here.


Once I got to the BC border, the sky began to open up and I began to enjoy mountain driving once again. It was interesting to note that this area wasn’t a tourist area…despite the mountains. It almost seemed like Northern Ontario….it was rustic, but different in that it seeemed to be thriving, unlike Northern Ontario. There was the odd really nice looking mountain, but otherwise they were mostly tree covered.

That changed once I made the turn north. The mountains got bigger, and more grand, and the scenery was a bit more varied. I started to see some rivers which were the same bluish green that Lake Louise is. There was also some massive sand or sandstone areas.

Once I made the turn into Kootenay park, things got really spectacular. There were some spots where the road went through a canyon with straight rock on either side. I went through it several times to get good pictures. And it just kept getting better, the mountains were much bigger than in Waterton, and had large areas that were bare rock with no trees, and the odd bit of snow.

Then I rounded a bend in the road, and there was the Kootenay valley, spread out before my eyes. Luckily there was a lookout spot right there….cause otherwise I would have been all over the road trying to sightsee. The valley was lined all along with majestic mountains, in a line as far as the eye could see. The massive scale of it all took my breath away. It was beyond words. Looking back at my pictures, they don’t even begin to do it justice. At this point in the trip, this is the most awesome thing I have ever seen. Meanwhile, I hadn’t even been planning on taking the drive through Kootenay. It was put into the trip very late in the planning stage. I’m so glad I drove it!

Kootenay Valley
Kootenay Valley

After the valley, the road wound through some areas where it appeared they were doing controlled burn forest fires. So instead of green trees all over the mountians, there were grey burnt trees. It was a bit weird.

As I approached Banff, I could see Castle Mountain, which is a very unique shaped mountain, that instead of a peak, it has a wall like shape….like a castle, which was very cool. I was supposed to camp near there….but made a wrong turn. So I turned around, only to discover that the site I wanted to stay at was full, so I kept going and setup camp at the Johnston Canyon Campground. It is a nice place, and has unlimited firewood, which is really nice! The bugs are kind of nasty though, especially after being used to having no bugs in Waterton. Oh well, apparently this will only get worse as I head up north.

Kootenay Driving
Kootenay Driving

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