A scenic drive to the Rocky Mountains outside Calgary
Growing up to the east of the Rocky Mountains was something we took for granted, until moving away. Whenever we are back in Calgary, we make a point of going.
When you leave Calgary, one of the largest cities in Alberta, you travel along the #1 highway and you can see the mountains in the distance. They form the border between the provinces of Alberta and B.C. (British Columbia). They have been standing for eons like sentinels protecting the land. Depending on the time of year you go will depend on your drive and how they look.
If you head out in the spring - anytime from May to June there remains what is left of the snow pack. In the morning with the sun glinting off the snow it is a magical time that photographers call alpenglow, as the mountains can appear pink with the sunrise or sunset.
Travelling west the road winds around a bend and you descend into the valley where the mountains stretch as far as you can see. You gasp because truly unless you are right there, it is hard to do them justice because of the vastness that are the Rockies.
You are making your way towards Banff, home of the first National Park in Canada. It is the only park that people are allowed to live and work, leasing their homes for a number of years.
Just before getting to Banff is Canmore[I], the little village that became a town in its own right. Surrounded by the mountains, it is a haven for hikers, naturalists and nowadays, golfers.
For those staying in Banff, you will need to stop at the park gates and get a pass for however long you plan to stay. Everyone who enters the Banff National Park is charged a small fee if you stop.
As you have been driving along the TransCanada Highway, you have been venturing deeper into the mountains and now you will be surrounded by them. If it is spring you will start to notice wild flowers, greenery starting to happen and animals.
The national park is filled with all kinds of North American animals: bears, cougars, elk, goats, sheep and others. If you are fortunate enough to see them don't feed them. Don't get out of your car should you see a bear. Be careful, take pictures and enjoy but remember they are wild and don't mean to but can harm you if they feel threatened.
It is a beautiful stretch of highway, scenic and impressive because as you get closer and closer you realize you feel like a little stone in a big pond. Make sure you have your camera and someone to take pictures for you if you are driving. Or make sure you stop often.
The Rocky Mountains are just one part of Canada and they will stand on guard forever. Go to www.travelalberta.com for more information.
I can't believe it's more than 5 years since we visited western Canada. We didn't get as far as Calgary. We flew to Vancouver, where we spent a few days, took the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, then drove across to Banff and Jasper before crossing to Victoria. The Rockies and the national parks were absolutely breathtaking; such a sense of space and nature. I hadn't realised the sky was so huge.