Johnston Canyon - Fiberglass RV

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Old 08-07-2007, 11:29 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17 ft and 1989 Li'l Bigfoot 13 ft
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My son had been away visiting my family, so I loaded up the new rig and headed south to Calgary to pick him up from the airport. He was excited to see the 'new' trailer at the airport!

We headed west toward the Rockies, destination unknown. I decided to let my son pick between Kananaskis Country or Banff/Lake Louise area. He chose the later as he hadn't camped in that area before, so we ended up on the old highway, the 'Bow Valley Parkway'. We were taking our chances, with it being a long weekend coming up and having no campground reservations.

We headed into Johnston Canyon Campground, about half way between Banff and Lake Louise. There were TWO sites left to chose from. We chose the lesser of the two evils and left the trailer hooked up for the night, hoping to switch sites in the morning. (NOTE TO SELF: when switching sites in the future, make sure to crank that new roof vent shut BEFORE hitting the tree with it! ).

Discovered that running the fridge on 12v while driving had all but killed the battery on the way there and we didn't have enough juice to do anything but run the lights for the weekend (ah, just like old times in the Boler! ) Another shake down trip is going to be necessary before long to try out a new battery.

About the campground.
I found that most of the sites were very close together, especially for a park in the Rockies. Many of the sites, like the one we had the first night, are geared towards tents not trailers. Due to the small sites and locations of trees and permanent fire pits, many sites do not allow you to put your trailer in so that it opens facing the site, which to me is a necessity for convenience. They had hot and cold running water in the bathrooms and showers in two of the bathroom buildings as well. For some reason firewood was not available, although fires were allowed.
The campground is bordered by the creek that runs through the Johnston Canyon. The canyon is right across the main road from the campground, and within easy walking distance.
I would stay there again, but I would go during a less busy time for more site selection. There are also two or three other campgrounds along this road between Banff and Lake Louise, so we would probably try one of those first, just to see if the sites are more secluded.

The first night's 'campsite':

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Old 08-07-2007, 11:45 AM   #2
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17 ft and 1989 Li'l Bigfoot 13 ft
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Day 2
After setting up in the new and improved site the next day, we headed off to explore Lake Louise, hiked to Mirror Lake (discovered my son doesn't really like hiking, breaks my heart ), bought some towels at the camping shop since I forgot to pack any.
The New Site:

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Day 3
We headed to the Johnston Canyon first, before it got too busy with tourists, then we were off to Banff (crazy BUSY place!) We took in Bow Falls, the headed out of the business to Lake Minnewanka to hike to the canyon there. Unfortunately the Park Rangers had the trails around the lake closed due to a recent grizzly bear attack where a hiker had surprised a mom with her cubs. So we took in the lake a bit, then headed down the road to Johnson Lake, where we found a small sandy beach and it was warm enough for swimming! We passed some mountain goats on the way.
Bow Falls, don't ask me how we got pictures without 100's of tourists in them!

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Lake Minnewanka:

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Old 08-07-2007, 11:51 AM   #3
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Trailer: 1989 Bigfoot 17 ft and 1989 Li'l Bigfoot 13 ft
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Day 4
We decided to leave the business of Banff behind and headed into Yoho National Park for the day. We headed to Emerald Lake first. It was beautiful, great weather, postcard perfect! The Parks Canada staff had an interpreter set up with a fossil display from the Burgess Shale, which my son found very interesting. They let him do a paper rubbing of a trilobite fossil as a keepsake. The shallow area of the lake was fun for both child and dog too!
We headed to Takkakaw Falls (a free-fall of 254 metres amkes Takakkaw Falls one of the highest waterfalls in Canada, 16th highest in the world I think) and then to the Natural Bridge (a gorge where water has carved a bridge out of rock)
On the Bow Valley Parkway:

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Day 5
Heading home. We stopped at some of the roadside attractions including the crowfoot Glacier and Peyto Lake on the road home. Once out the National Park, we stopped at Thompson Creek Provincial Recreation Area for lunch and to cool our feet off in the creek for a while.
On the David thompson Highway near Abraham Lake:

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Old 08-08-2007, 02:14 PM   #4
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Wow. Amazing photographs. Someday I'll make it out west.
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Old 08-08-2007, 04:11 PM   #5
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Thanks Bob.
We are very lucky to have this overwhelmingly beautiful scenery in our 'backyard'.

Here's a few more.

Mountain goats on the road by Two Jack Lake

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Takkakaw Falls (scale is lost in the photo, but those are full size spruce trees at the mountain top

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The 'beehive' mountain at Mirror Lake

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Crowfoot Glacier (used to have 3 'toes' but due to global warming, now only 1 3/4 'toes' left)

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Elk along the Bow Valley Parkway roadside

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Old 08-09-2007, 07:39 AM   #6
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Name: Myron
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Great stuff, wonderful place! Love those magnificent Canadian Rockies.

You brought back a few memories of our trip up to Banff many years ago. We were camping in a rented mini-van. Stayed one night at Banff then moved on up and west, over the province border to the western side of the Rockies, around and down (sorry I forgot the names of the places) and, finding no places to stay for the night, spotted a little sign on the side of the road for a "dude ranch".

Dude ranch? What the heck, it was getting late so we decided to see if we could stay there.

A 12 mile drive on dirt roads finally ended up at this wonderful, not really run-down, rustic old log cabin ranch property with rooms, horses, and a neat porch with a view of the Rockies from which you could spot griz with cubs grazing (with a telescope). Steak for supper, followed by a sauna and a dip into a pond, and the next day I took the horse trail ride of my life up into the wilderness. Turns out the old place catered to Europeans who wanted the western cowboy experience. They even had a circle of (phony) covered wagons in a field, for tourists to stay in. It was funny, it was great! Whatta find!

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