Last month on our trip to Lake Louise we decided to take the road less traveled, and instead of using the Trans Canada Highway #1 (the Trans Can) to take us from Banff to our destination of Lake Louise, we used the slower Bow Valley Parkway, also known as Highway 1A. This highway runs almost parallel to the Trans Can and starts just 6km west of Banff and runs for 51km all the way to Lake Louise.
This highway has a speed limit of 60 km/h in most places and therefore is not a route taken by most people travelling between the two points at either end. This route goes through some fabulous landscapes and whilst we did not see any wildlife on our trip, this secondary highways travels through a very important habitat, which means that you could see bears, wolves and cougars, as well as the more commonly seen moose and deer.
As this highway lies in Banff National Park, Parks Canada are enforcing a mandatory seasonal overnight travel restriction from 01-Mar to 25-Jun this year on this route, which means that travel between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. by vehicle, bicycle, or on foot, is not permitted between the Trans-Canada Highway/Bow Valley Parkway interchange and Johnston Canyon Campground, which is a 17 km stretch. This is to ensure that the area remains a high quality home for wildlife.
During this mandatory travel restriction all businesses and commercial accommodations remain open and can easily be accessed by driving the Trans Can and exiting at Castle Junction.
This is just one of many ways Parks Canada is employing to ensure wildlife has a chance to survive in Banff National Park, giving us all the opportunity to experience these great animals for a long time to come.
Despite the absence of animals we really loved this drive, every corner brought a new fantastic vista for us to enjoy. It is a miracle that we ever managed to reach our destination, as at every turn I made my husband stop the vehicle so that I could hop out and take some shots. Thankfully the road was not very busy, so we didn’t cause any traffic jams!
One of the most majestic views is that of Castle Mountain. This mountain is 2766 m (9076 ft) high and was named by James Hector in 1858, who wrote: “Seeming to stand out in the centre of the valley is a very remarkable mountain…which looks exactly like a giant castle.”
So it was known all the way until the day before President Eisenhower was to make a visit to Ottawa in 1945. For reasons only known to himself, Canada’s then Prime Minister Mackenzie-King decided that the mountain should be renamed in honor of the US President. Whilst Eisenhower was much respected, this arbitrary decision so enraged the Alberta government that it immediately formed its own geographical names board. It took 33 years and an Albertan as Prime Minister before Castle Mountain regained its original name in 1979. As a compromise, the prominent tower on the southern end of the mountain was given the name Eisenhower Peak. To be honest, I for one am glad that the original name prevailed, it suits it much better!