Exploring Northwest US and Canada: Week 1, Day 5, Banff


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North America » Canada » Alberta » Banff National Park
February 23rd 2018
Published: February 23rd 2018
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7/15 Our Fresh Tracks bus picked us up in Calgary mid morning for our transfer to Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway, the longest paved highway in the world. We passed through the Stoney-Nakoda Reserve, the original “people of the mountains” or “people who cook with stones”. Our driver informed us that Sitting Bull had left the US Dakotas to bring his tribe here. The Stoneys taught the Dakota people how to hunt in this new territory. Sitting Bull went back to the US to stand trial and never returned to Canada. Instead he joined Buffalo Bill's show in Wyoming. Many films were shot on this reserve including Little Big Man and Sitting Bull’s History Lesson.



At noon we checked in at the charming Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa but found we had a hike to find a place for lunch since the lodge is on the far side of town. After unpacking we walked into town and had a tasteless Margherita pizza for lunch at Pacini, I guess you can’t expect good Italian food in this region. The clouds abated and the sun made us very hot as we walked through town and over the Bow River to the Cave and Basin on Sulphur Mountain, the first of the National Parks of Canada. Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. and Jasper National Park in CA. followed soon after. The walk from town took much longer than the 10 minutes we were told! The park includes a large historic structure with thermal springs below ground. There are near extinct snails in the spring that are found nowhere else on earth. People are cautioned not to touch the water for fear of contaminating the ancient waters and damaging the protected Banff Springs Snail. It was so crowded in the small cave that I had a difficult time seeing the waters (but I could smell them!). Unfortunately, many tourists ignored the signs and dipped their hands in the waters risking the health of the snails.

At the top of the Cave and Basin I ran into former State Representative Michael MacDonald from Tennessee (he and his wife were on our flight to Calgary). Sadly, the view of the mountains from the main entrance to the sulfuric cave was greatly obscured by smoke from the fires in BC. The smoky air was thick making it difficult for me to breathe. Consequently I opted to take the shuttle bus back to town to rest my lungs and legs for dinner.


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