Monday, August 23, 2010

Along the Bow Valley Parkway and Banff

The road between Lake Louise and Banff is a relatively new superhighway.  But to Canada's credit, they have preserved the old road - a very civilized two lane road - as a parkway that follows the Bow River, with viewpoints and informative signage.
The Bow Valley
We made our way into Banff, stopping for a picnic along a babbling stream (all the streams babble since the water is flowing over very rocky streambeds).  We explored the village a bit - it was crowded and seemed aggressively touristy, not a real town, but one, like Jackson, Wyoming, invented to make money off of scenery.  We couldn't help noting the different, very comfortable feeling we had in Jasper, which was a real town long before the tourists came.

We did find the natural history museum in Banff a very interesting place.
The building was built more than 100 years ago to house a collection of specimens captured and stuffed by the naturalists of the day.  Since there was no electricity in Banff, the architecture emphasized bringing natural light into the display areas.  The museum presents the collection as it might have been seen in 1914.  The taxidermists work is equisite and demonstrates how advanced the naturalists were in their identification and classification.

Our next stop was the very popular Bow Falls, just outside Banff.
Bow Falls in Banff
I imagine there are many "falls" in the Bow River, but these are particularly nice.

We finished our exploration of the southern part of Banff National Park with a drive on the Lake Minnewanka Loop, drive from Banff of perhaps 20 KM to the end of the lake.  It's a pretty drive and a large, pretty lake.  The stars of this particular show, however, were a nonchalant herd of mountain goats that stopped traffic and blocked the road for several minutes.
King of the Road