After spending about five days in Banff National Park, we headed to Calgary for the afternoon. We had an early morning flight the next day and decided to spend the night there to save some time. The TELUS Spark Science Center was everything we were looking for and more! It caters to every age group and has interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, and educational demonstrations.
We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon in June around 12:30pm and had about 3.5 hours to explore before it closed. We were the ONLY ones there! Even though we had the entire place to ourselves we found that we could have spent more time there. It was that expansive and fun!
The four of us had a blast seeing how high we could jump, watching a drum beat our heartbeat, laying on a bed of nails, watching lights respond to different sounds, designing a cartoon with tangible items, learning how water erodes land, and so much more! We had a lot of trouble pulling the kids away (literally) from some of the exhibits.
Despite all of the fun inside the center, the most fun they had was on the outside. There is an outdoor space called “The Brainasium”. The only thing J wanted to do was climb the high ropes course over and over again. Jon and I also climbed the course and had a good time sliding down the big slide.
There was so much more that we could have explored at the TELUS Spark Science Center, but I don’t think we understood it’s expansiveness and how fun it would be until we arrived. Looks like we’ll have to plan another trip to the Calgary area!
No matter where you go in Banff you will be met with the most breathtaking scenery. From glistening glaciers, to bright teal lakes, it really is hard to beat the beautiful nature around you. Hiking with kids in Banff National Park can not only provide a lot of these views, but can give you and the family an experience that is fun, engaging, and rewarding! Two hikes that we tackled as a family were the Lake Agnus Trail and the Tunnel Mountain Trail.
Lake Agnus Trail
The Lake Agnus Trail starts at Lake Louise and goes up to Mirror Lake and then up to Lake Agnus. It’s 4.72 miles long with an elevation of 1,422 feet. We started at 8:00am since it was still cool outside and the hike can get crowded later in the day. J had an older digital camera so she could take her own pictures. We have found that this keeps her really entertained during longer hikes.
We walked, we hiked, and we climbed for a good hour before we started to wonder where Mirror Lake was. It was a never ending uphill climb and we were all getting a little tired of it. J was such a trooper and made it with just a couple of complaints on the way up! We finally made it to Mirror Lake, which was a much needed rest for all of us. The tranquil setting amongst the alpine trees with their reflection in the water made our hike worth it. It’s not nearly as impressive as Lake Louise, but it was quiet and serene. The kids played by the water for 20 minutes, which was enough for everyone to recharge and hike the last 20 minutes to Lake Agnus. At the top waiting for us was the Lake Agnus Tea House which had biscuits and tea!
We were about five minutes from the top when J said she was done and didn’t want to walk anymore. So I took the backpack with M in it (which felt like 100 pounds at this point) and Jon carried J the rest of the way. At the top, which ended with two sets of stairs, we made a beeline for the bathroom and then found a nice spot on the rocks next to Lake Agnus. We got some lovely fluffy biscuits with homemade jam, tortilla chips, and different flavored teas. It was an idyllic spot to enjoy this freshly made fare and we stayed for a good hour before deciding to return down. We promised J it would be much faster on the way down (it was) and that ice cream was waiting for her (which we found). We then spent the afternoon playing and relaxing in the pool!
Tunnel Mountain Trail
The Tunnel Mountain Trail is a great hike to do while hiking with kids in Banff National Park. This is a 2.7 roundtrip hike that one can easily access from downtown Banff. While it does climb the Tunnel Mountain, it has a lot of switchbacks which kept things interesting and doable for everyone. And compared to the Lake Agnus Trail that we had done the day before this was a piece of cake!
We once again got a very early start, which was great for parking and having the trail to ourselves. It started as a woodsy walk, but after we cleared the tree line we started to get some beautiful views. It took us about an hour to get to the top… there was even a congratulations sign! We had gorgeous views of the town of Banff, the golf course, and the surrounding areas.
We rested at the top for a little bit before making our way down, which only took about 20 minutes. After leaving, we ate at a lovely restaurant called Juniper Bistro for an early lunch. We sat outside and had spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. We then relaxed a bit at the house, swam in the pool for a couple of hours, and spent some time in the town of Banff.
Banff Gondola Experience
While we didn’t do any actual hiking at the Banff Gondola Experience there are some hikes one can enjoy such as the Sulphur Mountain Trail. We didn’t tackle this, but were impressed by how extensive this gondola experience is! We got there a little later, around 9:30am and it wasn’t too crowded, but when we left two hours later people had parked miles down the road and had to walk to the gondola… go early!
To start, we took the 8 minute gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. We were then led into an interactive interpretive center where there were hands-on displays, a multi-sensory Banff weather theater, and information boards and posters about everything Banff. It was really extraordinary and the kids had a blast! We probably spent most of our time in here since they were having so much fun.
We managed to make it out of there and onto the observation deck and Sulphur Mountain boardwalk. The views of the six mountain ranges were stunning. We had such great weather and we could see for miles and miles. The boardwalk took us for a nice walk high above the trees where we could have views every which way we wanted. From the 360 observation deck there were even more. Simply amazing!
We spent a wonderful five days here and felt that we made the most of our time. The vibrant lakes, majestic mountains, and the glowing glaciers make for some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever experienced!
Banff National Park, located in Alberta, Canada is a beautiful area flush with turquoise glacial lakes, Rocky Mountain peaks, breathtaking vistas, and easy access to outdoor adventures! We made this our summer 2019 outdoor/hiking trip and could not have been happier with our choice! Banff National Park with kids is easy to do and makes for a fulfilling trip for everyone!
The Town of Banff
Banff is about one hour and ten minutes away from Calgary Airport. The quaint, but lively town is surrounded in all directions by snowcapped rugged mountains, and the streets are full of boutique shops, chateau styled hotels, delicious restaurants, and touristy stores selling name plates and t-shirts. We decided to stay in the nearby town of Canmore so we could have more space. The townhouse we stayed in had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a community pool which we used often!
Due to the time change everyone was up by 4:30am, which worked in our favor since we wanted to get to Moraine Lake early! We left Canmore around 5:15 and drove the next hour gazing at the beautiful views of the mountains. At 6:20 there were already quite a few people there, which made sense since the parking lot closes at 8:00. There is a trail to the left of the parking lot called the Rockpile Trail, which is about half mile long and has you climbing up stairs and rocks to get to the top. Here, you can get a nice view of the outstanding blue color of the lake, which is caused by the silt-like rock flour from the continuously melting glaciers surrounding it. It was absolutely stunning to see and I have never seen anything like it before. J loved climbing the rocks to get to the top and was astounded to see the color of the water. She really appreciates the scenery around her and this was no exception.
We walked back down to lake level and strolled along the path and the water. The kids enjoyed throwing rocks into the cold water and touching it to see just how cold it really was. They thought it was hilarious that that there was still snow on the sides of the lake… in June!
We actually decided to come back the next day for a quick photo op. I had thought that we were just a tad early the day before and we didn’t quite catch all of the sun’s rays on the teal glistening water. Jon quickly climbed to the top and took some quick pictures, while the girls and I stayed by the lake and played.
We left Moraine Lake and drove to Lake Louise. It was about 8:15 and you could feel the parking lot getting packed. We ate at the local hotel cafe and then walked around the lake, which looked like it was sparkling! The colors were spectacular and the mountains surrounding the lake reflected off of the water. It was just beautiful. We came back the next day to do a pretty great hike, but more on that later!
Lake Louise Gondola
Afterward, we went to the Lake Louise gondola. The gondola took us up to almost 7,000 feet elevation and provided us with beautiful views of Lake Louise, Victoria Glacier, and the expansive mountains. The kids enjoyed the ride up and we were able to hang out at the top for a little bit enjoying the fresh air and scenery.
We headed back to our townhouse at around 11am, and after some nap and rest time we spent about two hours in the pool. We ate at a great restaurant in Canmore called Blake, which left us feeling happy and full. There is more to come during our five days at Banff National Park with kids so stay tuned!