Montana & Canada Travel Guide: From Glacier National Park to Banff National Park
When my husband and I got married, we made a commitment to get away for our anniversary each year. This started with our honeymoon and we’ve continued it since! It’s been so WONDERFUL for our marriage. I can’t say enough how crucial it is to get away, just the two of us, from the ebb and flow of every day life. It’s an investment worth making and we hold tightly to keeping this tradition throughout all our many years to come!
This year we decided to go to Whitefish, Montana near Glacier National Park and Banff, Canada. While some years we opt for a tropical getaway, this year we wanted adventure and jaw-dropping landscape. We definitely got our fill with these two locations! This trip was absolutely my favorite trip we’ve taken so far! At one point, I was brought to tears in Banff, Canada just taking in the views in front of me – BREATHTAKING! I have to admit that Canada was my favorite – from the landscape to the incredibly kind people, we will be going back for sure!
For this post, my goal is to share our photos, what we did and where we stayed in hopes to inspire your own trip or just entertain you with some beautiful scenes. ;) I’m going to break it up between the two locations, starting with Banff, Canada. We drove from Whitefish to Banff – I highly recommend driving long distances when on trips like this because you see SO much. We did this when we went to Aspen, CO. Let’s get to the details!
Banff National Park and Banff, Canada
Banff National Park is located in the Province of Alberta. It’s apart of the Rocky Mountains and is the oldest National Park in Canada. Just a short drive away is the cute little mountain town of Banff where we stayed overnight.
Places To See & Things To Do
Kootenay National Park – On our way to Banff National Park, we drove through Kootenay. While Banff is more spectacular, this was a good build up to what was to come!
Lake Louise – Our first stop in Canada was Lake Louise and it was AMAZING. I have never seen water this color! Keep in mind this is a tourist hot spot. There is a trail that lines the lake that we walked on. This gets you out of the crowds, even if you just walk a little bit down the trail.
Peyto Lake – Remember that I mentioned I was brought to tears at one point? Looking out over Peyto Lake was the place this happened! I have never seen such breathtaking views. We hiked up the trail to the overlook and went off the trail to get some better photos and soak it all in. The mountains go on for miles. The air was crisp and so clean. It was about 30 degrees and fresh snow was all around us. I’ve never seen snow like that before! If we had snow like that in South Carolina, I would want it to be around a whole lot more. ;) On the hike, the snow covered massive trees surround you and the smells remind you of Christmas. It felt like I was in the North Pole!
Icefields Parkway – I have never been on a drive like this! Driving along the Icefields Parkway is a MUST. It’s rated one of the top drives in the world. It winds along the Continental Divide with gorgeous peaks, turquoise lakes and icefields surrounding you at every turn.
Eats, Sleeps & Shops in Banff, Canada
Elk + Avenue – Our main lodging for our trip was in Montana, but we stayed at this cute, modern hotel during our time in Banff. It’s right in the action downtown and walking distance to shops and restaurants.
Park Distillery – This restaurant was camp fire style cuisine serving 100% local food. It was so yummy and cozy!
Tooloulou’s – We ate here for breakfast and was not disappointed! Their food is Louisiana cajun inspired so it was nice to eat something closer to home. They did a great job with their chicken and waffles! This southern girl was a happy camper! Once I had Canadian Maple Syrup, I will never go back to store bought fake syrup again. Haha!
Rocky Mountain Flannel – I got a fun buffalo plaid blanket for Christmas time here!
The Spirit of Christmas – This store was also great! I purchased some more Christmas decor items and souvenirs here.
Whitefish, Montana & Glacier National Park
Whitefish was our main location and where we stayed most of our trip. It’s easy access to Glacier and home to the BEAUTIFUL Lodge at Whitefish Lake. In Canada, we got to see so much snow, and in Whitefish and Glacier, we got to see all the colors of fall. It was the best of both worlds!
Places To See & Things To Do
Going to the Sun Road – This is a given when going to Glacier National Park. It’s a scenic drive all the way through the park. Some of the road was closed off due to winter weather when we went, but we went as far as we could on both sides of the park (meaning one day we drove AROUND the bottom of the park to get to the other side since we couldn’t go straight through).
Trail of the Cedars & Avalanche Lake Trail – The Trail of the Cedars is a short trail that leads you into the longer Avalanche Lake trail. At the top of Avalanche Lake trail is a GORGEOUS lake lined with huge mountain peaks. It reminded me a little bit of Maroon Bells in Aspen. During our hike, there were snow flurries all around us! Dreamy!
Lake McDonald – This is a gorgeous, easy-to-get-to lake with peaks lining the background. We stopped off and walked on the shore of the lake for photos.
East Glacier & St. Mary Lake – Remember I mentioned above that we saw both sides of Glacier National Park? We drove around the bottom of Glacier to get to East Glacier and St. Mary Lake because part of Going to the Sun Road was closed. The timing is about the same! East Glacier is so different from West Glacier. The weather is more extreme on the east side. We saw snow and extreme wind on this day!
Two Medicine Lake & Running Eagle Falls - On our way back from St. Mary Lake, we stopped off at Two Medicine Lake and walked the short trail to Running Eagle Falls. The falls come from the middle of the rocks – so cool!
The Spa at Whitefish Lake – Now, don’t think we didn’t take some rest days after all these hikes and travels! Our resort had a spa and we took full advantage! One of the best massages I’ve had since one we had in Jamaica!
Eats, Sleeps & Shops in Whitefish, Montana
The Lodge at Whitefish Lake – This was one of my favorite resorts we’ve stayed at! It was the epitome of a mountain lodge with rustic decor and coziness all around. The amenities were incredible too! We stayed in a loft suite that overlooked the lake. We definitely made use of our fireplace and had lots of time spent in the comfort of our loft suite! I definitely would stay here again – they have so many room/condo options as well for all family sizes!
Our favorite restaurants in Whitefish were all locally owned and delicious – here’s the list:
Swift Creek Cafe (Best breakfast!)
Boat Club Restaurant – This restaurant was located in our resort and was INCREDIBLE. I had the filet and Rob had elk. So yum.
We also did a little shopping especially since I love a western, rustic vibe – here’s our fave stores:
Big Sky Antiques
Tailwaggers (Cute pet store – we bought Paisley a toy Trout!)
The Mercantile at Whitefish Lodge – I got a beautiful wool blanket here.
The Toggery (Super cute clothes and hats!)
ALL IMAGES ©Markie Walden Photography
There you have it – a summary of one of the best trips we’ve taken yet! It was so hard narrowing down the photos to include. WOAH! ;) Now, it’s time to plan for next year’s trip – we actually already have a good idea of where we’re going! Stay tuned! I hope this post gives you some inspiration and good feels. Let me know in the comments if so!