For our honeymoon, we took a road trip to the Canadian Rockies with our dog!
Why the Canadian Rockies, you may ask? From icy alpine lakes to hot springs with gorgeous views, from mountains to climb to valleys to gaze upon, we knew that a visit to Banff would have exactly the combination of relaxation and adventure we were looking for! Since many of the activities that were on our bucket list were only available in Banff during the summer due to weather conditions in the mountains, we knew we would have to wait almost eight excruciatingly long months after our wedding before we could visit.
In the time since we had begun making hotel reservations and planning our trip, Luke and I adopted Patronus from a local rescue and he proved to be an amazing companion and an excellent “adventure dog”. As time went on, we both realized that we couldn’t stand the idea of hiking in Banff without him by our side, so rather than booking a flight and boarding him at a kennel, we decided to take a road trip across America and into Canada!
Crazy? Maybe. Worth it? Definitely!
Our route took us through the UP (for all you non-Michiganders, that’s the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), across the Great Plains, and up into Canada.
We may have stayed up a bit late on our first night of the trip enjoying some beers in the UP, which in addition to our decision to go our to breakfast, caused us to get a late start on our next day of driving. Fortunately, we made it to the end of Minnesota, so we would still be able to reach Calgary on schedule!
For the third night of the trip, we stayed at the Westin in Calgary. After a very long drive, we arrived at the hotel late at night and very much in need of some rest. The guy at the desk was extremely helpful and gave us late checkout the next day so we could get some actual rest. Our room had a king sized bed with soft sheets, an extremely comfortable mattress, and pillows with just the right amount of fluff! They even included a complimentary vial of lavender essential oil. Needless to say, all three of us slept like rocks that night.
We discovered two things on our drive into Banff the next morning: 1) People aren’t full of crap when they tell you that the weather in the mountains can change in the blink of an eye, and 2) Canada has really good pop. And candy. If you have never tried the orange cream flavored Coke, we would highly recommend it!
We stayed at the Emerald Lake Lodge in Field, BC which is a series of four unit cabins plus a main lodge nestled in the mountains along a beautiful alpine lake with emerald green water.
To help preserve the quiet atmosphere of the alpine lake and its surrounding area, there is no public traffic allowed on site at the lodge. Each time you arrive arrive, you park in a lot off site and call a shuttle to transport you and your belongings to the lodge. As an added bonus, the hotel and its shuttle are both dog friendly!
The experience of staying at Emerald Lake Lodge was a bit different than staying at a “normal” hotel because it doesn’t offer all of the same amenities. While you may have to give up cell phone service, easy access to wifi (it’s only available in the main lodge), and in-room items such as a microwave and refrigerator that you may be accustomed to having, you’re rewarded with beautiful views, delicious food, hiking trails, and even an outdoor hot tub overlooking the lake and mountains that’s open year-round.
Our room at the lodge was dog friendly and had a natural wood burning fireplace as well as a balcony overlooking the water.
Patronus’ favorite thing about our room was most definitely the balcony! If he could have his way, he would 100% spend every night and day sleeping out there, leaving it only to hike, swim, or eat an occasional snack.
Aside from the fact that it was cold at night and we were by water, Patronus’ second favorite thing about the Emerald Lake Lodge was that he got to enjoy a couple of dog treats specially baked by the chef!
Constructed beside a beautiful bright green lake, the atmosphere at the lodge was always incredibly serene and quiet, even when there were people around.
While we definitely did enjoy spending time at the hotel, we also went on our fair share of daily adventures!
Here are some of the adventures we went on during our time in Banff:
- Relaxing at Emerald Lake and Natural Bridge
- Hiking to Takakkaw Falls
- Summiting Sulphur Mountain and Relaxing in Banff Upper Hot Springs
- Exploring Johnston Canyon
- Cruising the Icefields Parkway
- Hiking from Lake Louise to Lake Agnes
While we did do a great deal of planned activities, one of our favorite things to do was to randomly pull over to the side of the road at different lookout areas to explore new things and learn a bit more about Canadian history.
One thing I do wish we would have been able to do more often while we were in Banff was to spend more time relaxing and drinking our coffee in the morning.
As everybody who truly knows me knows, I am NOT a morning person. (To be fair, neither of us are morning people, but I’m the crabbiest when it comes to waking up with an alarm.) Unfortunately, we did have to get up super early most days in order to beat the crowds at some of the more popular places we’d planned to visit, and that meant no time for leisurely sipping coffee together.
After a week of exploring, relaxing, and interacting with random strangers, it was finally time to head back home. We decided to take a slightly different route home so we could see part of Montana. After two days of driving and two nights in random hotels, we made it to the UP. Luke and I enjoyed some food and beers with Luke’s mom and Phil while Patronus got to play with Juneau and guard the house.
When we finally made it home, all three of us were very tired. Although nobody wanted to leave Banff, we were still glad to be back home. Of course, the cats were quite happy to see us too!
So…would we go back to Banff? Absolutely! While we enjoyed out time in the Canadian Rockies so much, one week was nowhere near enough time to experience all of things that the area had to offer. It was unanimous that all three of us would love to return again someday!