The next morning and it was time to experience the Rockies with Brewster coaches provided by Rocky Mountaineer. Everything flowed similar to the Rocky experience with our Luggage taken from the room on to the bus for our next overnight stay.
The Brewster coach was very comfortable with reclining seats and WIFI where cell service was active. It was great to have the freedom to get out at the various sites to gain a better feel for the Rockies. Brewsters is certainly the perfect compliment to the Rocky Mountaineer experience. During our time in the Rockies we also completed the Experience Jasper Tour on route to Lake Louise with stops to experience the Athabasca Falls, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and an Ice Glacier Experience up on to the Columbia Ice-field.
Pulling up at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a sight you will never forget, as you enter through the grand lobby with winding staircases, elegant chandeliers, mountain scenery pictures and you feel like you have just arrived at a historic Swiss Chateau. We were whisked away to our 1 bed suite on the top floor, complete with a glorious bed made with fine linens and French doors into the bathroom. Then comes the view, which is the most spectacular highlight! Hold your breath for the 8th Floor view of the Emerald coloured Lake Louise spilling out of the Victoria glacier. Its stunning colour is formed by rock flour being mixed with melted glacier ice. As the glacier expands and contracts it grinds the rock beneath to a fine powder. Melting ice from the glacier picks the rock flour up and cascades it down water falls to be deposited in the lakes below.
With a late afternoon arrival at the Fairmont and after seeing the spectacular views of Lake Louise, we decided it was the most opportune moment to experience fine dining with a Fairmont flair. We reserved a table at the Fairview which boasts expansive panoramic views of the lake – the perfect setting for a wonderful wine and dine experience.
In the morning we set off to enjoy a stroll to the far side of Lake Louise. We were warned to stay alert for bears however we only saw the local squirrels, who are more than happy to pose for pictures. At the far side of the lake we reached the point where the glacial waters pick up the rock flour to colour the lake, its a beautiful site with crystal clear glacier waterfalls changing to the vivid turquoise waters of lake Louise.
After a light deli lunch it’s time to join Brewsters again, this time to take the Experience Yoho Park Tour on route to Banff. The tour trails the Kicking Horse River to the Emerald Lake with a stop to see an aerial view of the Spiral Tunnels that we would journey through in a few days time aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Our driver guides us through this three and a half hour journey to Banff with numerous entertaining stories of the history of the area.
We arrived at the Rim Rock Resort around 17:30 and was keen to see if this resort lives up to its hype. When booking we could see it was a debate of Rim Rock or Fairmont Banff Springs for the best hotel in town. We opted for Rim Rock as there was an upgrade available to the glorious mountain view and this was one of the few stops we had for 2 nights. Unfortunately this property lacked the finishing touches of a Fairmont, and after visiting the Fairmont Banff Springs I would personally choose the Fairmont as it’s also located a shorter walking distance to down-town.
Our final day in Banff saw us join up with Brewsters for a nice 10:30 start to take the Experience Banff Tour. We set off for the Kananaskis area to take a Helicopter ride, stopping along the way to see lake Minnewanka, the cascade mountain and the bow falls. We enjoyed spectacular views of the Rockies on our Helitour and throughout the day. After an hour in down-town for lunch our final Banff experience was riding a gondola up Sulfur Mountain. The views of the Banff National Park and the Rockies were simply stunning as we took a stroll across the walkway to enjoy the scenery across the mountain ridge. An hour of memorable views later, we decided to take the 6km trek down the mountainside – after all the sumptuous dining of the Rocky Tour, the exercise was welcome!
Our final night at the Rim Rock entailed room service with a bottle of wine and an early night. At 07:30 the following morning we took the short 10 minute ride to the Historic Banff Station. This was a beautiful scene, complimented by the familiar view of our Purple and Gold Rocky Mountaineer Train waiting for us to board. A welcome toast in hand, a hoot of the horn for the All Aboard Signal and we were off!