After a long freezing winter in Alberta, spring comes as a welcome relief. However this is a variable time of the year in this part of the world. One day it can be balmy and warm, the next we are back deep into the minus Celsius’s. Rain, sleet, sunshine and snow are all possibilities in the space of 24 hours here.
But now that the roads are cleared of the heavy snow I decided to take a trip out around Southern Alberta’s Rockies to check it out (and for some photography gems!). Here’s your Canada Rockies travel sorted!
After heading to southern Alberta the first place we decided to stop was at Lundbreck falls, which is located near the town Crowsnest. Set just a short way off highway 3, it could be easily missed by those unaware of their existence. But it was the perfect place to get out of our car and give our travel weary legs a stretch (and great for photography as well!).
There was no sign of snow on the ground here, so we were able to explore the falls easily climbing over the rocks without any fear of slipping. All the melt-water from the mountains meant that Crowsnest River was flowing fast as it cascaded 12 metres over the falls to the canyon below.
Silver Springs Lake
Just outside of Fernie, near the town of Elko we decided to travel to Silver Springs Lakes. The lakes are known to be popular summertime locations for hikers and kayakers, so I was curious what I would find at this time of year.
To get to the lakes we had to leave the highway and follow a gravelly forestry road to get to the trail head. As we arrived there we did not see any other signs of vehicles and it became obvious that we would be the only human visitors there. So on the off chance that we might bump into one of the lakes larger residents we decided to hike with bear spray in our hands.
The path took us up an steep incline to the lakes, and from there we found the perfect vantage point to get a view of the water. Apparently we were at a popular location for daredevil cliff jumpers who love to leap into the waters, though I wouldn’t have recommended it on this occasion as the lake was still frozen over. There snow had all disappeared, leaving us a view of the electric blue ice covering the lake.
As we headed back to our vehicle from the lake, a beam of light from the setting sun suddenly flooded into the valley. All the colours came to live and I suddenly found my self unpacking my camera to try and catch the moment. The rare, perfect moment for nature photography.
Lussier Hot Springs
Lussier Hot Springs is somewhere we have wanted to travel to for a very long time. So in planning this trip we decided that we needed to wake up early to make the journey into the mountains to get there at sunrise, hoping that nobody else had the same idea.
After heading an hour northwards on Highway 95 we had to turn off onto bumpy logging roads which we had to follow for about 20km. Many parts of the roads only had enough room for one vehicle which would be a real test of nerves if you met a logging truck travelling in the opposite direction because of steep cliff drops on long stretches of the road.
But once we got there it was all worth the travel bumps. The fresh mountain air was frigid, as was the river’s fresh water, but the springs thermals which we bathed in was a pure delight. Our decision to get there early was a good one, as we had the place to ourselves to enjoy the scenery and some uninterrupted time for photography.
Fairmont Hot Springs
As we continued to travel northwards we made a brief stop at Fairmont Hot Springs. This place is a family resort, where the springs resemble swimming pools rather than the natural setting of the thermals at Lussier. But after grabbing some food we decided to have a walk around to explore.
There used to be location near a waterfall at the resort where there had been some beautiful hot springs. However after a mudslide it had virtually disappeared. We decided to follow the stream up to were the springs had been. Despite not having the payoff of the natural bathing site I was struck by the colour of the rocks in the river as minerals were deposited by the thermal waters.
As we continued to travel, the road ascended uphill and the spring which we had seen in the lower lying regions of Alberta started to look a lot different. It started getting a lot cooler and the trees where becoming increasingly snow covered. So we decided to get out of our vehicle and explore the snowy landscape at Numa Falls.
There used to be a bridge giving access to the trails at this site, however that has since been washed away. But we headed over to where it once stood, getting snow in our boots we managed to get a view of the river and its amazingly blues waters.
Our travel time was coming to a close as we headed towards Banff. But as we arrived I wanted to check out the Vermillion Lakes which are located just outside of the scenic town. The lakes incredible views of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain and wildlife (like elk, moose and the occasional bear) can often be spotted here.
Much of the ground was still snow-covered, and the mountains which normally look so predominant over the lakes where barely visible from the icy fog passing through the valley. It might have been hard to imagine that spring was here at all, but the clues where there as water was becoming visible as the ice receded from the lake. I had been here a couple of months previously to see that the lakes where completely frozen over and people were ice skating.
Two Jack Lake
The last place we decided to visit was Two Jack lake. This is a favourite place to travel to watch the sunrise before kayaking around the lake. I was intrigued to see how soon that would be possible.
As we made our way down to the lake we had to be very careful with the slippery conditions. Much of the lake was still frozen over by the blue ice, but I was heartened to see that the melting was well underway. Surely it won’t be long until we have warmer days playing on the lake!