I’m always excited to visit Banff. It might help that I have some awesome family there, but Banff in itself is inexplicably one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, so I’m lucky to have excuses to visit often (if 3 times in 12 years counts as often).
But on this trip, we’d be passing through two national parks that I’d been meaning to get to for a while, just over the border in BC: Glacier National Park and Yoho National Park.
Although they are smaller, Glacier and Yoho are totally worth a visit. While they don’t have quite as many mountains as the Icefields Parkway, the drive is just constantly incredible.
We had started off near Pemberton, a couple of hours past Whistler. We’d had a hairy drive to our first night’s rest stop, with winding mountain roads surrounded by snow that we were navigating in the dark. I was glad to see the rest stop (which we didn’t have to pay for, probably because it was out of season) because we couldn’t see the drops.
I’m gonna go back to the start of our road trip for a minute, because we did make a couple of stops on our first day, although not enough to warrant a full blog post. I was happy to show Ash one of my favourite places in Canada (Squamish, for all you newbies) and we caught up with friends in Whistler for the evening.
Squamish, as usual, was absolutely beautiful, even on a cloudy day. Shannon Falls wasn’t as raging as it had been when I visited in May, but it was still lovely, and hard to capture its size in photos. Ash immediately declared it the biggest waterfall he’s ever seen, as have I (it is the third largest waterfall in BC, so that’s not too surprising).
Whistler was looking lovely, too. It was strange not seeing it covered in snow, but it was nice all the same in autumnal colours.
We had wanted to make a couple of stops between Squamish and Whistler (including finding the Instagram-famous train wreck), but after a bit of a disaster renting the car and leaving Vancouver two hours late, we were running out of time to meet our friends, and settled on just visiting Brandywine Falls instead.
It was absolutely a worthwhile stop! And while we missed the train wreck, we did have to cross this pretty scenic track to get to the falls.
Whistler really was just a whistle(r)-stop to see friends, and soon we were off on our hairy drive up the mountains to our first rest stop.
The next morning, we realised why it had been a dodgy drive. This whole area was BEAUTIFUL. It’s not a national park, nor in fact does it gain any credit at all, really, which is why it was so surprising. The drive towards Kamloops was pretty stunning, although the city itself was nothing to write home about. We grabbed a Tim Horton’s, stole a few minutes of wifi, and left.
The road really picked up the pace again around Revelstoke. We had been planning to stop in Revelstoke for lunch, but I’d almost forgotten that Golden was an hour ahead, and I was paragliding there at 3pm so unfortunately we had to get a wiggle on.
I’ll be posting more about my paraglide in a separate post, but let me tell you that Golden is beautiful too, and it’s sandwiched between the two national parks rather than even being a part of them!
Before Golden, we hit Glacier National Park. Small but mighty, the highlight of this park for us was Roger’s Pass.
It was like driving through a freaking screensaver. Absolutely stunning!
Glacier is so small that we didn’t make any stops – just stared at these mountains for the entire drive around them until we left the park.
After our stop in Golden, we had a couple of hours of daylight left to explore Yoho National Park, which is not enough time at all. However, the main spot on my list was Wapta Falls, and it happened to be one of the first places we came across.
There are several viewpoints for the falls, and I wasn’t overly taken by the first one from above. We got talking to somebody local and asked her how long it took to get to the bottom, and her response was so enthusiastic about the view that we went for it. She had told us it would take 10 minutes, but I think it took me even less, including a stop at another viewpoint further down.
Definitely worth it!
Plus the nearby mountains were seriously beeeautiful! I’d already got a great snap of them on the way in to the falls car park, but on our way out, the sun was setting on them delightfully.
Next time, I’d like to visit Emerald Lake and probably Takkakaw Falls (although the road to the falls was closed due to the early winter storm that hit Banff), but this was a really nice introduction to Yoho.
Have you visited some really underrated places?