We were all excited to be visiting Banff National Park, Alberta for a full 6 days!  There was so much to do and it would also give us some downtime.  Banff is a unique National Park to those we have visited in the past as the large and busy town of Banff is actually within Banff National Park boundaries.

On our drive into the park we saw something in the road ahead of us on the highway.  We slowed down so we wouldn’t hit whatever it was and wanted to get a better look.  It was a mama grizzly bear with her cub!  It was amazing!  They walked right past Azul (our van) on the side of the road.  The sweet little cub was so playful with it’s Mama and sadly with the trash it found by the road.  Another hour down the road near a parking lot and bike trail we saw yet another grizzly bear!  Incredible!

As an effort to protect wildlife Banff took some really neat measures along the highway that runs through it.  They have put in forest overpasses and breakaways.  The forest overpasses are wide bridges they have made for the animals to pass over the highway safely and are forested as the surroundings are.  Most of the highways that we traveled on within the park were lined with fences.  As you can imagine this might have the opposite effect intended if an animals gets trapped in the highway.  In an effort to eliminate this the park has constructed “breakaways” which are open portions of the fence almost in a funneled pattern to let out potentially trapped animals.  I wonder how this doesn’t also encourage wildlife to cross the highway at these points.  The shape of the fence certainly would help create positive results but I do wonder what the stats are on that.

Before we knew it, we were in the city of Banff.  It’s really quite a city!  It is very built up with a slew of restaurants and shops to browse, hotels and gardens.  All the buildings are very classy with store signs low as opposed to giant billboards everywhere.  The downtown area is pedestrian and local shuttle access only which was really lovely.  The shuttle bus was amazingly 100% electric so it didn’t have any exhaust for the pedestrians to breath in.  The views even from the city center were phenomenal!  Those snowy mountains were just amazing!

We found Nourish Bistro, a great gluten free friendly restaurant to eat at for lunch.  Nourish even had a gluten free beer made in Canada for Justin!  I had the nachos for my meal and it was delicious!  Such a good combination of sweet and savory with strawberries and all sorts of veggies piled on.  The girls gave it two thumbs up!

The visitor’s center was even more strange in Banff.  It was basically an empty building with 4-5 sterile looking counters and a couple rangers here and there behind plexi-glass.  All maps and such were held behind the counters for folks to request after standing in line.  Is there a big map hoarding issue I wonder??

Justin and I spent the evening planning out our next adventures in Banff.  There was just so much to see!