A bin-bag has become a makeshift sled as I slide on my bottom down a snow-covered slope on the shore of Lake Louise. This is my alternative winter experience in Alberta, Canada, a destination I am lucky enough to promote. I’m here for my very first trip to see for myself the majestic beauty captured in the photos I use to inspire fellow travellers.
Lake Louise, in Banff National Park, has to be one of the most picture-perfect places I have ever seen with my own eyes. We arrive during a snow storm at the start of winter. The visibility from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise isn’t the best as we set off for a stroll around the lake, famed for its turquoise waters. It’s cold, but not in an uncomfortable way, with the temperature around -3⁰C. We slip and slide on the freshly fallen snow, posing for pictures whist also trying to absorb the absolutely breathtaking scenery before us. The snow provides a muffled silence and I hold back for a moment, letting my group round a bend so I can pretend I have the entire lake to myself. It’s late November, shoulder season in the Canadian Rockies, and there isn’t a soul to be seen.
The next morning, the snow clouds have cleared and I get the most magnificent view of sunrise over the lake right from my bed. I don’t want to leave. But I must head south to the town of Banff, about 45 minutes’ drive away. We spend the day exploring, taking the new Banff Gondola, which rises 700m up Sulphur Mountain, to see the view over six mountain ranges and Bow Valley below. Banff National Park is home to three ski resorts: Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Resort. I can’t see any skiers from the viewing platform at the top of Sulphur, but they’re there from November to May. Back in town, a highlight for me is watching the sun set on a glorious day from the rooftop hottub at the brand-new Moose Hotel. Perfection.
Jasper National Park is the world’s second largest Dark Sky Preserve, so what a spot to view the Supermoon! I’m a huge fan of star-gazing and am thrilled to spend some time with astrologers pointing out various constellations through their super telescopes from the top of Whistler’s Mountain. Squinting and re-adjusting my eyes, I spot stars not visible to the naked eye dancing and sparkling in the night sky.
Bookending the trip is a stay in both of Alberta’s main cities: Edmonton, the capital and a great access point to Jasper, and Calgary, the gateway to Banff. Both cities surprise me with their modern feel, culinary sophistication and craft beer selections! I think I need to return ASAP to continue sampling the trendy bars and restaurants that I didn’t get around to. How soon is too soon?
For more info on Alberta visit: www.travelalberta.co.uk