Lake Louise

Lake Louise with the Fairmont Chateau Hotel in the Distance

Some of the most incredible views in North America can be had in the Canadian National Barks, particularly Banff and Jasper. The jewel in the crown is Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Martine and I spent three weeks in 2010 visiting both parks, as well as Glacier National Park in Montana and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in Wyoming.

Although the day was overcast when we visited Lake Louise, it didn’t seem to detract from the splendor of the setting. In the background are views of several snow-capped peaks including Mount Temple at 3,543 meters, Mount Whyte (2,983 meters), and Mount Niblock (2,976 meters).

Snow-Capped Mountains Rising Above the Lake

One characteristic of the glacial lakes of the Northern Rockies is their vivid green color caused by a phenomenon known as rock flour, which (according to Wikipedia) “consists of fine-grained, silt-sized particles of rock, generated by mechanical grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion or by artificial grinding to a similar size. Because the material is very small, it becomes suspended in meltwater making the water appear cloudy, which is sometimes known as glacial milk.”

At the Western Shore of the Lake

That trip some nine years ago was perhaps the most scenic in our lives. I wouldn’t mind spending some more time in the Canadian Rockies.


At Banff

Snowcapped Rockies in Banff National Park

Few places in North America are as drop-dead stunning as Banff National Park in Alberta. In September 2010 Martine and I rented a car in Spokane, WA and took a grand loop that encompassed Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Parks in Alberta and Glacier, Yellowstone, and Teton National Parks in the U.S.before returning to Spokane.

There was a period around then that Martine just couldn’t get enough of Canada. We had already visited Victoria and Vancouver and were to go twice to Eastern Canada, including Montreal, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. She developed a taste for lobster rolls that she can’t satisfy in Southern California because of the substandard quality of the shellfish here.

Canoe on Lake Louise

Perhaps the best hike we took was the trail that went around the northern bank of Lake Louise, where we saw the canoe in the above photo. The emerald shade of the water comes from glacial melt and the silt called “rock flour” that is constantly being deposited in the lake below. We saw this same phenomenon several other times that trip, at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, as well as Peyto and Maligne Lakes in Jasper National Park.