34th Anniversary Trip to Banff, Canada

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We celebrated our anniversary in beautiful Banff! Ten glorious days of cooler weather and beautiful scenery were pure magic, and we enjoyed every minute.

Mike and I sitting on the Banff letters.

Lake Louise

After a quick 3.5-hour flight from DFW to Calgary, we headed toward lovely Lake Louise. The Fairmont Hotel is nestled at the base of the lake – where we stayed for three nights.

One of the main attractions at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the lake itself. Lake Louise is known for its turquoise-colored waters, fed by glacial meltwater. It offers opportunities for walks along the shoreline, canoeing, or simply enjoying the awe-inspiring views. We did it all!

Lake Louise is also a popular subject for Instagram posts, with countless visitors sharing their photos and experiences using hashtags like #LakeLouise and #LakeLouiseCanada. Check out the beautiful photos on IG!

Mike and I outside of the Chateau Lake Louise.

Sunrise Canoe on Lake Louise

Mike planned our actual anniversary with precision. We began the day with an early, chilly (we came prepared with hats and gloves!) sunrise canoe trip on Lake Louise where hotel guests have the opportunity to paddle out onto the lake in a canoe during the early morning hours to witness the sunrise. BTW, sunrise in Canada is 5:10 a.m. We noticed that we rarely saw darkness while visiting!

Our sunrise canoe was one we won’t soon forget. As the sun rose over the peaks, the colors and reflections on the water created a magical sight. We snapped as many photos as we could during this peak hour.

A selfie of us on our Lake Louise sunrise canoe ride.

E-biking to Moraine Lake

Next on our anniversary agenda was an e-bike ride from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake. We were awestruck.

Lake Moraine is a stunning glacially-fed lake renowned for its vibrant turquoise color, which is caused by the presence of rock flour suspended in the water. The lake is surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains, including Mount Fay, Mount Babel, and the Ten Peaks, which provide a breathtaking backdrop. Can you believe the color? We’d never seen anything like it.

The lake is accessible by a scenic road that leads from the main highway. Once you arrive at the lake, there is a parking area, a lodge, and various hiking trails available for visitors to explore the surrounding area.

It should be noted that during peak times, the road is closed off to motor vehicles (except for shuttles). We were pleased to be able to e-bike along the road with minimal traffic.

Sue and Mike overlooking Lake Moraine.

Dinner with a View

Mike treated me to a massage at the Fairmont (before dinner) and it was probably the best I’ve had. Ask for Naomi! While I was pampered, Mike took a hike to Lake Agnes Tea House.

Our evening concluded with dinner at The Fairview Dining Room. We enjoyed stunning views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains, and the food was excellent as well.

What a day – all planned by my amazing husband. I’m a lucky girl.

Drive on Iceland Parkway

Our last day in the Lake Louise area was spent driving on the Iceland Parkway, a popular scenic highway in the Canadian Rockies. It stretches for approximately 144 miles and runs through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, connecting the town of Jasper to Lake Louise in Banff.

The Icefields Parkway offers breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies, with towering mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and pristine lakes along the route. It is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, showcasing the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

We drove about halfway from Lake Louise to Jaspar. Here are some of the scenic stops we made along the way:

  • Bow Lake – Bow Lake is framed by Bow Glacier. Some of the water in Bow Lake (melt from the glacier) flows all the way to the Bow River that bisects Calgary, 136 miles away!
  • Peyto Lake – Bow Summit is the highest elevation point on the whole Icefields Parkway at 6,787 feet. We enjoyed a fantastic view of the famous Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies. The snowball fights we had along the short hike was probably our favorite part, admittedly! It’s been a long time since we’d seen snow.
  • Mistaya Canyon – This natural wonder can be accessed via a 1.1-mile loop trail. The Mistaya River here rises in Peyto Lake and then leaves the flat-bottomed valley to plunge into this narrow canyon.
  • Saskatchewan River Crossing – Located within Banff National Park at the junction of Highway 93 and Highway 11. We turned around at this point on the drive. NEXT TIME (hopefully!) we’ll drive all the way to Jaspar for more amazing views!
Some tall trees beside a lake in the mountains.

The following are photos of our jaunt to Peyto Lake. Along the way, we played in the snow and threw snowballs at each other. In fact, our snowballs actually crashed during one of our tosses (and I caught it on camera)! So funny – and pretty amazing too.

Mistaya Canyon was particularly scenic and the water was crashing through the tight spots in the canyon. We walked along the rocks and sat down for a little meditation (well, we were just wishing we had a cooler of beer – LOL).

Beautiful Banff Fairmont

After three glorious nights in Lake Louise, we headed to the world-famous Banff Springs Hotel, a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of Banff, Alberta. Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies,” has been providing legendary hospitality to guests for years, and we were lucky to be two of those guests during our stay.

During our five-night stay there, we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast buffet each morning and an appetizer spread each afternoon. We also relaxed by the heated outdoor pool several times after our biking adventures and made time for some easy reading.

We were fortunate to have rented bikes through the hotel, making the transition from breakfast to bikes particularly smooth.

The Fairmont Castle Hotel in the mountains.

Bear Country

We saw two bears in the wild during our stay in Canada, including a Black Bear on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93-N) and a Grizzly Bear on the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A).

Since I was worried about seeing a bear in the wild, I feel like I should share some education on these beautiful but scary creatures. We ran into some park rangers on one particular day and received some great visuals (they were carrying furry paws) to differentiate these massive animals.

A black bear or a Grizzly?

If you ever experience Banff in the outdoors, get some bear spray! We had some with us when we biked and thankfully didn’t have to use it. The following is some good-to-know info regarding bears.

Color is normally not a reliable indicator for bear identification. Grizzlies can be black; black bears can be white. Both species come in many colors. The most noticeable differences between black bears and Grizzlies are in their snout and back. Here are the key differences:

  • Grizzlies have a noticeable hump between their shoulders and a rounded “dished” face. Black bears have a longer snout and bigger ears.
  • If you spot a bear track, you’ll know it’s a Grizzly if it shows prominent claw marks (at least 2 inches from the toes); their claws are significantly longer than a black bear’s.
  • Size matters. Male Grizzlies can be up to twice as large as a male black bear (up to 661 lbs).

One thing we noticed about Canada was the thoughtfulness in bear-proofing their garbage policies. While vacationing in the Banff area, we didn’t see a residential curbside collection of waste, but rather a system of residential communal bear-resistant waste containers – where residents and visitors take their garbage and recycling.

Bike Riding

Bike Riding is always a major part of our anniversary trip each June. Mike spent many hours planning this trip, and he had all of the biking figured out before we arrived. Here are some of the “easy to moderate” rides we did along the way, totaling about 200 miles. (I’m including the e-bike ride to Moraine Lake and our easy rides to dinner each night.)

After seeing the grizzly on Highway 1A, I convinced Mike to skip the bike ride he had originally planned on that route. Good thinking, Sue!

  • The Minnetonka Loop – Starting at the Fairmont, through Cascade Ponds, along Two Jack Lake, and back again. The ride was moderate – meaning hilly and difficult for me. I was “almost” hyperventilating climbing the hills in elevation!
  • Legacy Trail from Banff to Canmore – Built in 2010, this dedicated bike trail went along the highway in areas but felt quiet and serene as it weaved into treed areas along the way. It’s family-friendly and not too hilly, thank goodness. We did this beautiful 30’ish mile round trip ride twice, stopping in Canmore for coffee each time.
  • The Golf Course Loop – The golf course loop begins below the cascading waters of Bow Falls. From here, the route crosses just about every type of mountain scenery through the forest and along the golf course. We rode this loop several times during our stay in conjunction with other shorter rides around town.
  • Ride to Vermillion Lakes – The views from this road are some of the most iconic in Banff, with multiple lakes and views of Mount Rundle in the background. This is a relatively easy ride that includes a section of bike path and a slow-speed-limit road.

If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you already know that we tend to hit the breweries after biking and that is precisely what we did each day. Biking and beer just go together, eh?

Gondola Ride to Sky Bistro

We took the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain and were awestruck. There are plenty of areas to take in views of six different mountain ranges and nearby rivers, including the town of Banff. We also strolled the boardwalk to the Cosmic Ray Station and Sanson’s Peak.

Dining at Sea Bistro was also spectacular. We both enjoyed Strawberry Caprese and Alberta Bison Sirloin. So good!

The view of Banff from the gondola.

Food and Drinks

During our stays in Lake Louise and Banff, we enjoyed great food and drinks. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Three Bears Brewery – Their pizza was outstanding (and the beer too)!
  • Park Distillery – We enjoyed brisket quesadillas, a yummy Buddha bowl, and a Caesar (Canadian’s Bloody Mary).
  • The Bison – Our last evening in town and we were impressed.
  • Elk and Oarsman – Burgers and beers on a rooftop.
  • Sky Bistro – Dinner and gondola (mentioned above) – perfection.
  • Block Kitchen and Bar – A popular tapas restaurant in downtown Banff.
  • Banff Ave Brewing Co – The best Charred Brussels Sprouts (with whipped feta) plus beer.
  • COWS – The touristy ice cream shop in town that drew in large crowds. We were not that impressed. My homemade ice cream is better – LOL!

While in Lake Louise, we dined right in the Fairmont because the small town didn’t have many choices. We enjoyed eating at the Lakeview Lounge, Fairview Bar and Restaurant, and Louiza.

All in all, this trip rates at the top of the list for us. We love traveling and when you have a partner who does all the planning (I mean ALL of it), you know you’re lucky. Thanks, honey! I’m keeping you for another 34 years (or more).


  1. Sandra Sherlock says:

    What a wonderful holiday and as you said an amazing husband to organise
    it .
    Tell me how do you stay so slim with all your wonderful cooking you do.
    Love your recipes
    Sandra SA Australia

  2. what an awesome trip! I’m a bike fanatic so loved all the cycling you did! Someday I hope to see that area but this week looking forward to a trip with spouse and friends to Lake Almanor, CA. Bike, SUP and wet suit is part of the plan!

  3. It’s hard to rank our awesome trips, but this is near the top! #untilnexttime

  4. What a great trip! Such beautiful photos — and you guys are couple goals!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Awww, thanks Jessica! Mwah!

  5. Wow! And Congratulations!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thanks Stahr!

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