Jasper / Banff
I took some time off before I start my new job at Microsoft, and Laura and I took a lovely wintertime trip while we had the opportunity. On our little trip, we drove from Seattle to Jasper, in Alberta, Canada, and stayed there for a couple nights. The town of Jasper is in the northern part of Jasper National Park, which connects to Banff National Park. A famously scenic road called the Icefield Parkway runs from Jasper in the north to the town of Banff at the south of the two parks.
Winter is a deep-discount time for the hotels in the area, so we stayed one night at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a huge castle-like building on the outskirts of Banff, and another night at the Fairmont Lake Louise, which stands on the edge of the famous Lake Louise, which is supposedly one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Also, for a day, we went skiing at Sunshine Village, a cool resort that isn’t directly accessible by car; visitors park in a lower area and take a gondola to the resort village. The scenery is spectacular, and the snow was wonderfully dry, like the inland areas of the US. I was happy to find that my leg performed quite well; my snowboarding function seemed to be between 85 and 90%.
Right before the trip, I got myself a Canon 20D (that’s a camera) as an early Christmas present. I had a great time photographing the stunning scenery we saw; check out this collection of pictures from the trip.
As it turns out, November was a great time to visit Canada’s famous national parks; it’s the quietest time of the year, since it’s cold, but the ski season isn’t in full swing yet. As a result, hotel rooms were easy to book, and the towns weren’t mobbed with tourists, the way they are in the summer. We saw big-horned sheep and plenty of elk, and often we were the only car on the road. I recommend early-winter trips to Banff if you’re thinking of visiting the area, although of course the place is also breathtaking in the summer.