Banff National Park & Lake Louise in a wheelchair
Banff and Lake Louise | A Paradise for Nature Lovers
Canada has always been one of my top dream destinations. In 2017 Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary and grants free admission to the National Parks. This lucky coincidence made me think of planning a huge journey that I will remember forever! On April 19th, 2017 we took off to New York and would spend the next four weeks traveling from East to West. From New York City we went all the way to Vancouver. Our travel route was the following:
New York City – Niagara Falls – Montreal – Quebec City – Calgary – Canmore – Banff NP – Lake Louise – Jasper NP – Edmonton – Vancouver
I’d like to start with the highlight of this whole journey:
The road-trip through the National Parks of Banff, Yoho, and Jasper! They simply are breathtaking. Wild Canadian nature as far as the eye can see! If you’re lucky, you’ll see Grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, wapitis, elks and of course the snow-covered Rocky Mountains.
Banff National Park – The Basics
Calgary International Airport (YYC) is closest to Banff (144 km/89 miles). We went there with Air Canada, departing from Montreal. I rented a car from AVIS Car Rentals, and our road trip began. I recommend you to stay at least three days as there is so much to see! Getting around by car is a smooth, tranquil and comfortable way to explore the scenery as a wheelchair user. Please note that you need to have a National Park Discovery Pass to access the parks. You can order one on the official website (the regular price is about 10 CAD per person/day).
My travel tip for you: Hotels in Banff are very expensive. It is much cheaper to stay in Canmore, a charming town nearby (26 km/16 miles). You’ll find a large choice of hotels, restaurants, grocery stores like Safeways and a very wheelchair-friendly infrastructure. From there you could also visit the Bow Valley Provincial Park in Kananaskis Country.
You can reach almost all the major natural attractions by car. In general, the viewpoints are wheelchair-friendly, and most have handicapped parking lots as well as accessible restrooms.
List of attractions with great wheelchair accessibility:
- Banff Gondola (entirely accessible & discount for accompanying person)
- Vermillion Lakes Drive (accessible viewpoints)
- Fenland Trail near Vermillion Lakes (easy stroll)
- Bow Falls (accessible lower viewpoint)
- Tunnel Mountain (accessible viewpoint)
- Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive (accessible viewpoints)
- Two Jack Lake (accessible viewpoint)
- Lake Louise (accessible viewpoint)
- Saskatchewan River Crossing (accessible viewpoint)
In May 2017 Bow Lake was still almost completely frozen. The roads leading to Peyto Lake as well as Moraine Lake hadn’t been open yet. So, unfortunately, we didn’t see much. But it was quite impressive to see those enormous amounts of snow on the road.
After some marvelous days in Banff and Lake Louise, we took a short detour to Yoho National Park to visit Lake Emerald. Our next destination was Jasper, and we were so excited to drive all the way up there on the famous Icefields Parkway, one of the most beautiful highways on earth. Of course, we stopped to see the magnificent Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains. Continue reading about wheelchair accessible Jasper National Park…!
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