Day Four (Monday) – Whitewater Rafting and Lake Louise

Kicking Horse River, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake & Kootenay National Park to Golden, BC

Waking up, we knew this was going to be a fun day for all of us. LuAnn and I had gone white water rafting in Colorado, but today we were several degrees of latitude farther north. Not knowing what to expect – and with the knowledge that Hydra River Guides was an hour and twenty minutes from Calgary – we decided to leave at 7:00am, plenty of time to make a 10AM raft time.

Or so we thought. LuAnn looked at the brochure again and, well, melted down. Hydra was an hour and twenty minutes from Banff, not Calgary! Good thing we left when we did; we pulled into the Hydra parking lot at 9:40am.

After checking in, receiving instructions from the guides on how to survive in the water, and getting our gear on, we finally made it into the Kicking Horse River. The first hour of the trip was calm, and we were concerned that there were no “real” rapids yet. We were going “Hmm…”. Then, we saw a bus off at a landing where the front group of rafters got off; apparently, they signed up for the beginners ride. When we added one person to our crew for the next hour, the guide asked for a volunteer to sit up front with him. We volunteered Ava. She was way cool about that!

For the next hour, we got what we wanted…..RAPIDS!

Now THAT’S more like it! When we landed downstream, a bus took us back to the start. LuAnn said she saw a three-legged bear (one front leg), but since we didn’t have our camera or cell phones with us, we couldn’t get a picture.

When we arrived back at the base, lunch was waiting for us. Hydra River Guides is good about having vegetarian and vegan options for lunch. That was a concern because Ava is a vegetarian. Joining us for the lunch were the afternoon rafters. They ate first, then rode. We recommend riding, then eating if at all possible.

Lake Louise

After our exhilarating experience in the Kicking Horse River, we planned on a relaxing day around Lake Louise. Like Banff, parking can be a challenge at Lake Louise. There is a dedicated parking lot for visitors to the town. The day we went, the lot was close to full, and flaggers directed us to where to park. From the lot, it’s about a ¼ mile to the Chateau Lake Louise, the companion hotel to the Chateau Banff Springs.

While the hotel is impressive, we were there to see the lake itself. We were not disappointed; Lake Louise is a typical alpine lake – in other words, WOW!

Moraine Lake & Kootenay National Park to Golden, BC

After Lake Louise, we went to Moraine Lake, about 10 miles away. Moraine Lake, like all of the other lakes in Banff, is simply breathtaking – especially for a bunch of flatlanders from Minnesota!

After experiencing Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, we decided to take the “scenic” route (ha ha!) to Golden, British Columbia, our destination for the night. From Lake Louise, we drove south to Radium Hot Springs, BC, then north to Golden.

Getting off the expressway, we stopped at Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park.

The alpine, glacial waters eroded the rock, creating a stunning canyon. There are several bridges crossing the Vermilion River, making for fantastic photo opportunities.

Once we arrived at Radium Hot Springs, we drove down the hill and entered the Rocky Mountain Trench, a valley running nearly 1000 miles from Flathead Lake, Montana to Watson Lake, Yukon. This valley surprised us by its agricultural ambience; there were corn and hay fields, horse ranches, and dairy farms. A nice touch of home to end the day. We arrived in Golden, BC tired and ready for a good night’s sleep, but so happy for the diversity of the natural landscape we had experienced!

Read on to Day 5: Icefields Parkway and Jasper National Park