Visiting Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park
After the Icefields Parkway we arrived in more well-known national parks to us. Near Lake Louise, we took right and drove right across Yoho National Park to sleep outside the parks in Golden just as we did 4 years ago and then the next day we climbed back to the park and did more or less the same tour as the previous roadtrip. For Jan it was the 4th time here in Yoho / Banff and Kootenay National Park and I can add a couple of more times to it.
So what did we do.
Trainspotting at the spiral tunnels (Yoho NP)
On our way to the hotel after the Icefields, we noticed that a train was leaving Field and was on its way to the spiral tunnels. We know out of experience that spotting a train in the tunnels is a bit of luck and so we were not certain we'd seen one on the next day when we actually planned to visit Yoho.
With our newly train addict in the car, we stopped...and waited until the slow, really slow, huge, slow freight train approached. In the mean time we had plenty of time to read all the signs and models and explain to some confused tourists how the original too steep train slope had been replaced by a more gradual slope which included 2 huge spiral tunnels in the mountains. Since the freight trains are so long, you can see trains coming in the tunnel at one point and leave the tunnel much lower/higher at another point.
In 2015 we had only seen empty tunnels with baby Kabouter but now our 2 tiny train fans had more luck.
|See the same train going by at 3 points: The tail below us nearby, the middle going in the tunnel at the top far away and the start coming out of the tunnel in the middle|
Emerald Lake (Yoho NP)
The next day we started our visits with Emerald Lake. For the first time ever we skipped hiking to the Wapta Falls, even though they are one of my favourite sites. Hey, let's not get too routined here and make some changes now and then.
But Emerald Lake is simply gorgeous and usually not too overcrowded yet (but almost). We just walked around a bit, checked out the gift shop, went to our picknick spot from 2015 to see if the squirrels were still so occupied moving pine cones (nope they weren't around), etc...
The Natural Bridge (Yoho NP)
On our way back to the highway, we stopped at the Natural bridge and took a family selfie again...our new tradition. This time we were 4 instead of 3 :).
Despite knowing better, we made an attempt to drive to the Takkakaw Falls but as was to be expected that road does not open before mid June
|Mount Field and the Kicking Horse River (and a train) inYogho National Park|
Skipping Lake Louise (Banff NP)
After shopping a bit for lunch in Lake Louise village we decided to skip visiting the lake in the middle of the day, remembering how busy it had been 4 years ago and how frustrating it felt to basically line up behind selfie making Asian tourists to squeeze into a spot on the boulevard in order to take a quick picture of the lake ourselves. I probably exaggerate, but this is how it settled in my memory. We decided that we'd try to come back if we felt like it at the end of our trip in an early morning when we were staying at 1h from Lake Louise.
While heading onwards, we noticed that 7 kms from Lake Louise the overflow parking was in use and that you were obliged to drive there and take a shuttle bus to the lake. Ugh, so it was clearly even more busy than 4 years ago when we still managed to park near the lake.
Banff was also on our to do list for the end of the vacation so we speeded on towards Kootenay National Park instead.
Marble Canyon (Kootenay NP)
It was really nice to notice that the area that got destroyed by a huge forest fire in 2003 is now really spontaneously reforested. The view is still dominated by the mountain slopes full of dead tree snags, but the new fresh pine are now truly abundant, pushing up and taking height. In all interpretive signs in all national parks you now read about the importance of having forest fires every 25-50 years to maintain the variety in the existing ecosystems. I still find it hard not to consider a forest fire and a "dead" area as a big part of Kootenay National Park as a disaster, but clearly park management and ecologists tell me wrong. But it felt great to see how nature heals a seemingly dead spot.
The Paint Pots (Kootenay NP)
Just a few kms from the Marble Canyon is the stop for the Paint Pots. Actually you can hike from one spot to the other if the trail is open (sometimes it isn't....for bear presence?? or other reasons). We first picknicked at the tables that are available since there are none at the Marble Canyon.
Kootenay Park Lodge
For the first time we stopped at the Kootenay Park Lodge. Note to ourselves: there is a little playground so this makes a good stop with children.
Also in this area there's been a huge forest fire in the last decade which is all explained in the lodge.
Kootenay Valley Viewpoint
Traditionally end of May - Early June there is a no stopping zone along Olive Lake because of the many bears spending time nearby the highway. This year the no stopping zone seemed much larger and started already way before this viewpoint...yet on the viewpoint itself there weren't any signs so we did risk a small stop to enjoy this beautiful view on the Kootenay River and its valley, before we'd have to say goodbye to my beloved river for a few days until we'd get reunited in Creston, BC.
The no stopping zone didn't disappoing...soon after we saw a black bear...and then....2 grizzlies!! We were in a no stopping zone, but that doesn't say you can't make 2 u-turns to get a better glance at these gorgeous animals ? We didn't stop (so our pictures are crappy)...so that's alright no? And this way all 4 inhabitants of our car had the possibility to spot the 2 grizzlies in the bushes. Yesss.
Before we knew it, we drove through the canyon past Radium Hot Springs and thereby leaving the National Parks behind for a while.
|Hoodoos near Fairmont Hot Springs|
Check out more or less our same itinerary in 2015 with a baby Kabouter