Northern Rockies: Oh Canada!

We really enjoyed our time in Canada. In Banff National Park, we visited the Upper Hot Springs and hiked the Marsh Loop and continued onto the Sundance Trail. Parks Canada is kind enough to mark there trails as easy (green), intermediate (blue), and advanced (black). However, in some of the intermediate trail descriptions, the elevation gain over the length of the trail calculates to an average 10% grade. If a 10% average grade is considered intermediate, we would hate to see the trail that is marked advanced.

Despite hiking to the Sundance Canyon trail head, we did not hike the canyon due to time constraints. Overall the Marsh Loop was flat and easy walking. Horse tours use this trail, so be prepared to step to the side to allow horses to pass and to dodge road apples as you walk. The Sundance Trail (to the Sundance Canyon trail head) was paved and started out flat. Approximately halfway down the trail, the grade increased and remained consistent for the remainder of the hike to the Canyon. Be cautious of bicyclists coming down from the Canyon.

Hot Springs

  1. Banff Upper Hot Springs: Our favorite hot springs of the trip. The scenery is fantastic and the locker rooms were very well done. There is not cold pool at this location, so that might have reduced the number of people. Come early in the day, the crowds start to pick up around 11 am. Towel rentals are reasonable, just ask for a locker rental when you are purchasing tickets and you will receive a looney for the lockers. Smallest pool we visited, so it has the potential of feeling crowded during peak hours. There is no parking next to the building, just a drop off area. Parking area was close to the Sulphur Peak gondola route; Alex was excited to watch these strange, new contraptions. The Banff Upper Hot Springs had the coldest water temperature. Children under 3 must wear a water proof swim diaper. Swim suit rentals are also available.

    Banff Upper Hot Springs selfie.
    Banff Upper Hot Springs selfie.
  2. Radium Hot Springs: Our second favorite hot spring of the trip. A much larger hot pool, small hot tub, and a cold pool. Heavier usage with less desirable locker room facilities. Unlike Banff Upper Hot Springs, after leaving the locker room, there was a long walk to get to either the hot or cold pool. Admission, towel, and locker fees were the very similar, if not the same, to Banff. Setting was less scenic and there is limited space to place your towel. Added bonus, you are exposed to radon gas. Children under 3 must wear a water proof swim diaper.
  3. Fairmont Hot Springs Resort: Higher admission and towel rental fees. For being a resort, the locker room was looking a bit long in the tooth. Hottest water of the three hot pools. Cold pool with diving board adjacent to hot pool. Alex, despite being unable to swim, wanted to jump off the diving board like the other boys.

Marsh Loop/Sundance Trail Gallery:

Click on a picture to enlarge/begin slide show.