On my way to BC I couldn't help but feel that it was going to be very hard for me to imagine anything that might top my feelings and experiences from Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Even though I had dreamed of going to BC for a very long time, I just couldn't shake the colours and views from the magical lakes. We were certainly going to try though!
We took the Trans Canada Highway 1 and headed for Golden BC. This was the coolest highway yet. It literally wrapped up and around the mountains. On one side of us was rocky mountain views (which at most times had falling rock signs), while the other was a far down fall to the closest valley or turquoise glacier flour filled river. The views were incredible and it made for a very fun ride!
Side note: I have absolutely no idea how that drive might be possible in the thick of winter. I can only assume the highway must close often or they have some super narrow ploughs that make it possible to drive the winding road. There were spots where you drove through rock so high on both sides you couldn't see much else. I took a few time-lapse videos to show you all a piece of what it was like.
The drive in terms of the kids was easy peasy. They still had their activity bags which were yet to be completely burned through and this drive was much shorter than our initial one out west. It was only a few hours with some fun stops along the way.
Our firs stop was the Spiral Tunnels. The story of the spiral tunnels was much more interesting than the views. While starring off into the mountains is always a beautiful sight, there wasn't much you could really see in regard to the tunnels. I spied one tunnel opening and other than that we just enjoyed all the information about them and the kids had fun climbing through the pretend tunnel above it.
What I learned: The steepness of the Kicking Horse Pass was a major problem for trains passing through, so the tunnels allow the train to travel up via spiralling around and on top of itself three times.
Our net stop was in Field, BC to get views of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. It is the largest lake in the
park and it's biggest tourist attraction. With a gorgeous restaurant and lodge reaching out into the lake it was jaw dropping. I think my first words were "I had no idea I would get to see something so amazing again so soon". Once I had left Lake Louise and Moraine Lake I thought I was walking away from views like that for a long time. Little did I know the rivers glow turquoise all around this area and that Emerald Lake was just as miraculous. Near the lake were our first views of the Kicking Horse River and a Natural Bridge made of rock.
The Lake was gorgeous and we soaked in it's beauty for as long as we could. I grabbed a couple rocks to add to my quickly growing collection and snapped many more amazing pictures. The children were climbing the rocks, practising how to skip them and then we loaded them back in the car before our next stop, Golden.
Golden was a very tiny and cute town. With the Kicking Horse river running right through the centre of the city and a huge ski resort and lodge on top of the mountain. We drove 10 km's up this mountain to the lodge which was where we stayed. We explored the grounds, got groceries to last us a couple days in BC and relaxed because tomorrow we were driving to Revelstoke to explore the Enchanted Forest and the kids could not be tired for this big day.
Side note: getting a hotel room with a kitchen saves a lot of money and effort trying to feed young kids in restaurants.
Our morning views at the top of the mountain were simply amazing. We were high above the clouds and once they parted as the day went on we saw the tiny houses far below. Staying on the mountain was an incredible view and experience. Since we were unable to do much hiking up mountains on this trip, it was nice to experience the top.
That morning we packed up the car and headed a couple hours west to Revelstoke. Once we arrived at the Enchanted Forest I could tell it was going to be something special.
When you first walk in you see the forest go off into the distance on a big slope and can spy colours and structures throughout. There is a big castle to the left and an arrow pointing you in that direction. The theme of the Enchanted Forest was classic nursery rhymes and stories. The homes of The old lady who lived in a shoe, snow white and the seven dwarfs, and the three little bears (to name a few) were child sized and very detailed. You could go in these homes, sit at the little tables and even sometimes go up some stairs to the character's beds. There were slide exits, gnomes, fairies and animals all throughout. Everything was very detailed, well thought-out and child-sized. I could go in some of the houses, but not all! There was also a long nature trail where you could go on a paddle boat, discover ancient trees, animal tracks and drink fresh glacier water straight out of the mountain! The water was crystal clear and ice cold. It reminded me of eating snow as a child.
The Enchanted forest is also home to the tallest tree house in Canada at three stories high! This tree house was straight out of a fairytale. With a winding staircase and three separate rooms it was northing short of incredible. If you are ever travelling within a few hours of Revelstoke BC with children, you MUST make a trip to this place.
Once we were done at the forest and exited through the rabbit hole we got a diploma for completing the nature trail and the kids were officially pooped. We headed back to our hotel in Golden and played on the mountain before bed. Collecting rocks and looking for bears or wolves. Thankfully we saw neither! Haha!
The next day, our last plan for BC was to hit the hot spring in Radium Hot Spring. Travelling there we took more of a countryside scenic route. We stopped at the world's largest paddle for a photo-op and continued on our way. As we entered Radium Hot Spring
we entered the Kootenay National Park where we saw an entire pack of mountain goats on the side of the highway. We stopped to stare and the kids were so excited! We watched one of the big goats buck some of the smaller ones toward the mountain and up they went, scaling the mountain on four legs. It was awesome to see more animals in the wild and we added them to our growing list.
The hot spring was amazing.
The last time I was in a hot spring was on Mount Fuji in Japan. I remembered the minerals in the water had left my skin softer than it had ever been, and this hot spring was no different. There we were, sitting in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, soaking in water that has travelled from 3 km's below the earth's surface to us. It was clear, hot and beautiful. The water exits the earth at 44 degrees celsius mixes with the cold air above it and levels out to around 40 degrees. The kids put on their puddle jumpers and loved it! There was also a "cold" pool that was around 29 degrees with a couple slides for them to play on. It was so fun running through the cold air and jumping in to the hot pools. This was another amazing experience and something I highly recommend to anyone travelling the Rockies with kids.
Heading home from BC was bitter sweet. I knew we had reached our furthest point and that we were on route to head home soon, but it also meant our incredible trip was coming to an end. By this point Zinnia and I were seriously home sick and talked about daddy and all our loved one's back in Ontario often. It was time to come home.
We had one last night in Banff to say goodbye to Brittany and Fraser and then we headed back to Lloydminster to have one last visit with Zinnia's cousin Natalie, Uncle Tom and Aunt Erin. On our trip between the Rockies and Lloyd we saw wild horses and elk and this gorgeous sunrise.
Some things that I have learned:
- The National Parks throughout the Rockies provide safe places for animals to cross that include grass bridges and underpasses.
- Emerald Lake has some of the oldest fossils in the world that have played a pivotal roll in what we know about evolution. It is one of the world's most significant fossil sites.
- The tap water in the mountains has a blue tint to it. After hunting down the reason I found out it is just the purest and cleanest water.
The major take-home's from this trip:
- Canada is absolutely gorgeous, and it is everyone's duty who lives here to see the magic that is in our country and a part of our land.
- Travelling with young children is not only worth it, it is very easy to do. With entertainment bags, multiple adult drivers we drove home in one shot for 36 hours and the kids were amazing. We stopped to climb and eat and it was an experience we will never forget. The kids were amazing in the car and by the end of this vacation Zinnia and her cousins are closer than ever. I watched these two toddlers who had never had siblings yet (Gabriel's first sibling only 4 months old) and they learned compromise, sharing, respectful play and a love of space and alone time. It was a wild ride, but we did it!
- I completely understand why my best friend and sister-in-law Brittany will not come back to Toronto. The Canadian Rockies are absolutely gorgeous with adventure at every turn, and she loves it. Britt, since I know you will be reading this, I couldn't be happier for you and your amazing fiance Fraser. You two define love for everyone who spends time with you both. We couldn't be happier for you!
- I will never travel this far and this long without Shane Beehler ever again. We missed him so much it started to hurt.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our travels. Until next time...
Here are extra pictures because The Enchanted Forest was so amazing: