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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Between Banff & Jasper: The most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth.

Take your favourite playlist. Add a bit of sunlight. Put on your best smile. And way you go …

Little did I know how life-changing my trip through the Canadian Rockies would be. And I say “life-changing” quite a bit, as I tend to meet people with the same heart & openness pretty much everywhere I go on this beautiful Planet Earth! The Rocky Mountains, and especially Banff however, have left a truly deep impression on me.

I cannot take my eyes off the stark colour contrast of snow-capped mountain peaks sustained by broad sweeps of evergreen conifers, blazing flames of bright orange birch trees and dotted with some of the most intense, turquoise-coloured lakes I have ever seen in my whole life. How could we ever fail to warm to the poetry of life, and nature, in a place as pristine and beautiful as this one?

Gotta love the sheer beauty of the Rocky Mountains near Banff !!!

Picture perfect Banff, a place of the heart whose delicate beauty I have described in more detail here.

 

So let me tell you where all this magic lies rooted in. Most people, just like myself, start the drive through the Rockies in either one of the national park towns of Jasper or Banff. From each end, it is about a 300 kilometres’ drive, taking anywhere between four to five hours (fewer stops in potentially averse weather conditions, reducing visibility at popular viewpoints) to up to seven hours or more (that’s me basking in beautiful sunlight driving mode and stopping much more often to take videos, time & photographs!). Be prepared to take at least a day for the entire trip then: That way, you can stop as much as you like, do your little hikes off the main road, and still go relatively unhurried. Pressure is not something you want to feel in a place of such mighty serenity after all.

 

The above map shows you where Banff & Jasper National Parks are located at, connected by the famous Park Highway 93. It also measures out their relative closeness to Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton to the North, as well as Banff’s southern gateway city Calgary, about one and a half hour’s drive from Banff only.

 

Road trip through the Rockies: Here is how to do “the most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth” in style!

To actually get to starting your epic road trip adventure, consider not just flying into Jasper, Banff or Calgary, but start off with something quite different …

... talking about my slightly unusual arrival in the Rockies through VIA Rail's train called "The Canadian", an outstanding experience that I will focus on in a later, separate article.

… talking about my slightly unusual arrival in the Rockies through VIA Rail’s one-of-a-kind train experience onboard “The Canadian”, an outstanding journey across the entire Western Canada provinces that I will focus on in a later, separate article.

 

Arriving in Jasper after a 16 hour night & day train journey, it is time to "fuel up" before going on the actual road trip to Banff: Pancakes & bear warnings for breakfast!

Arriving in Jasper after one night & day of travelling, it is time to “fuel up” before going on the actual road trip to Banff: Pancakes as well as reading about “Bears & People” for breakfast it is!

 

The drive to Banff from Jasper ...

The drive to Banff from Jasper …

 

... has some of that soul-soaring spirit of adventure, not matter the clouds and slightly cold weather ...

… has some of that soul-soaring spirit of adventure, not matter the clouds and slightly cold weather.

 

As a first stop, I suggest Althabasca Falls only about half an hour south of Jasper on the 93 National Park Highway.

As a first stop, I suggest Althabasca Falls only about half an hour south of Jasper on the 93 National Park Highway: They make for a good, easily accessible rest stop and introduction on what is to follow …

 

Snow, that is, in my case! So much for adventure .. The highest road pass is just over 2.000 metres above sea level, and it is not uncommon to see a snow plough as early as September here ..!

… snow in my case, that is! So much for the adventure .. The highest road pass is just over 2.000 metres above sea level, and it is not uncommon to see a snow plough here as early as September ..!

 

Another must-see stop for any first-time visitor on the Jasper - Banff Highway is the Fairmount Hotel at Lake Louise, reminiscent even of that Palace Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria I've been at earlier this year ..!

Another must-see stop for any first-time visitor on the Jasper – Banff Highway is the Fairmount Hotel at Lake Louise, slightly reminiscent even of that Palace Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria I’ve been at earlier this year ..!

 

Lake Louise itself is a fascinating beauty, and offers many a popular hiking trail.

Lake Louise itself is a fascinating beauty, and offers many a popular hiking trail. Amazing to see the colour fusion of winter & fall colours in this one picture here!

 

How lucky can one girl get?

How much happiness can you actually take?

How deep does the appreciation for the spectacular natural surroundings around you run?

By the time the actual weather had cleared to make my drive back up north from Banff to Jasper a sweet & sunny one, I felt a shadow of a cloud crossing my inner horizons. Banff, and especially its local community of such warm-hearted, welcoming people, had really grown on me. Leaving all of a sudden didn’t feel right any more. And yet I had to. This time round. But guess what: “I’ll be back”, in the famous words of one of my Austrian countrymen. I definitely will. Sooner rather than later, looking at the mighty colour change of fall, with autumn being one of the best travel times for a trip through the Rocky Mountains. The air is still warm, the colours on display are mind-bogglingly beautiful, the tourist numbers have dropped from the sheer masses of summer’s travel frenzy.

My smile has reached you. It is reciprocated in the mountain’s echo. The all-encompassing wisdom that binds us all. To it, we bow our heads in awe and let our minds, hearts & spirits fill with peace.

Heading out & north away from Banff ...

Heading out north from Banff …

 

... be sure to stop at one of my, if not THE favourite place along the entire drive: Peyto Lake near Bow Summit, the road's highest elevation.

… be sure to stop at one of the most outstanding places along the entire drive: Peyto Lake near Bow Summit, what with its turquoise waters in the almost perfect shape of a real coyote!

 

Still can't quite get over the fact just HOW BLUE the glacial water lake is.!

Still can’t quite get over the fact just HOW BLUE Peyto glacier lake is.! I swear: No colour filters were used in this picture: Only natural sediments in the water.

 

A good travel tip at the side: Get yourself a National Park pass that will last for two years now, what with Canada celebrating its 150th anniversary next year and offering free passes to all visitors in 2017!

A good travel tip at the side: Get yourself a National Park pass that will last for two years now, what with Canada celebrating its 150th anniversary next year and offering free passes to all visitors in 2017!

 

And speaking of what to get: A good car, like this economic easy-to-drive Volkswagen Jetta (including Bluetooth connection to my iPhone for that road trip music fun!) makes

And speaking of what to get: A good rental car, like this economic, easy-to-drive Volkswagen Jetta (including Bluetooth connection to my iPhone for that road trip music fun!) makes for a much-needed, reliable travel companion too!

 

And so, the road goes ever on, with beckoning picture-perfect stops pretty much every couple of kilometres ...

And so, the road goes ever on, with beckoning picture-perfect stops pretty much every couple of kilometres …

 

... stopping sometimes to go down and away from the main road, simply sitting in what truly are, "the most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth" for me ..!

… stopping sometimes to go down and away from the main road, simply taking in what truly are, “the most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth” ..! And wouldn’t you agree with me there?

 

I mean, just look it. What a tiny stretch of road in a vastness of mountains shaped by tectonic forces, ice ages and the ever-lasting circles of weather & erosion .. Wow.

I mean, just look at it. What a tiny stretch of road in such a vastness of mountains shaped by tectonic forces, ice ages and the ever-lasting circles of weather & erosion .. Wow.

 

This is ... we are now headed into.

This is the Columbia Icefield we are now headed into …

 

... what with some of the highest, visible elevations along the road: The snow-capped glacier fields soar well over 3000 metres into the sky ..!

… what with some of the highest, visible elevations along the road: The snow-capped glacier fields soar well over 3000 metres into the sky ..! Note the tiny figures in the centre foreground of the photograph: Single human beings, nothing in comparison to the sheer size of this glacier!

 

Oh, the love for this road ...

Oh, the love for this road …

 

... I just wish it would never end. Only a little fatigue after a whole day's worth of driving tells me

… I just wish it would never end. Reaching back up to Jasper here is like coming off a “trip” of a kind , really!

 

And you, my dear: Ready to go on "the most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth"? :)

And you, my dear: Ready to go and explore “the most beautiful 300 kilometres on Earth”? 🙂

 

PS. I have also produced a travel video that highlights some of my travel adventures in Western Canada, all the way from Vancouver to the vast open plains east of the Rocky Mountains. A fascinating, funky take on what has truly been a life-changing journey. Enjoy with sound & smile 🙂

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Banff & beyond: #ExploreCanada the local way.
Saskatoon: My take on First Nation & Foodie Travel in Saskatchewan.

2 Comments

  1. Monika and Petar Fuchs

    One of the most beautiful roads of the world, Elena. I have been traveling on it quite often, but never get enough of it.

    Reply
    • Elena

      Likewise, dear Monika.

      I can just hope that this is just the beginning … 🙂 Beautiful Banff & Rocky Mountains !!

      Reply

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