Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway and beyond

Kelly’s write up of cycling the Bow Valley Parkway, from Lake Louise to Calgary during Summer in 2016. Click here to read Michael’s write up about riding to Calgary.

From Lake Louise we cycled the Bow Valley Parkway to Banff, then the Legacy Trail to Canmore and hopped on the Trans-American to Calgary. Completing our cycle through the mountains to the start of the Prairies for the next step of our cycle across Canada.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise was beautiful, however it was hardly comparable to some of the beautiful lakes we seen along the pathway. We also didn’t realise that Lake Louise was actually situated about 4km away – up a steep mountain. So on our rest day we tackled yet another mountain climb. My legs were not impressed. Of course it rained as soon as we started cycling, and for the whole time we were at the lake. That didn’t stop tonnes of people visiting the lake. Lake Louise was the second busiest place we had been on the trip. The first was the Icefields Center – avoid at all costs!

lake louise Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway
Made it across the Icefields Parkway and to Lake Louise

Bow Valley Parkway

After our “not-so-much-of-a-rest” rest day, the plan was to head to Banff via the Bow Valley Parkway. The cycle was awesome. There were plenty of stops along the way, and the scenery was beautiful. Once we arrived into Banff we got onto the Legacy Trail (a cycle path from Banff to Canmore), and headed into the town. Banff looked awesome. So bike friendly, with cycle paths and bike stations (pump, bike stand, tools) set up all over the place. I could definitely live there. We had already made arrangements to stay with some warmshowers’ hosts in Canmore for a couple of nights, so after a brief lunch stop in Banff, we headed back on the Legacy Trail and cycled the rest of the way to Canmore. The cycle path was great – I wish all highways had a cycle path following the same route.

Canmore

Canmore was just as impressive and bike friendly as Banff. We even managed to arrive just before the rain started. Jeff (our warmshowers’ host) met us at Tim Hortons’ and he took us to his beautiful house. Another rest day and we needed it. Jeff, Paula and Peter were amazing hosts, and helped us a lot with planning the next stage of our trip.

After resting up and drying off for a couple of days we were ready to head to Calgary – just in time for the stampede (which we had written off a long time ago, due to all the issues we had right at the start of the trip). Jeff had just gotten back from cycling a section of the Continental Divide and asked if he could join us for the first 20km of our day – of course, we weren’t going to say no. I’m quite social on the bike and enjoy cycling with others. Jeff cycled with us, in the rain to Exshaw, then we said “goodbye” and cycled on (still in the rain).

Our love host in Canmore!
Our love host in Canmore!

Highway 1: The Trans-American

We got on the highway to Calgary at Seebe and continued the long day cycling, in the rain. We stopped at Chiniki gas station for coffee (and demolished half a kilo of granola) and met some friendly locals from the reserve. After resting, chatting and drying off a bit, we continued on. Considering we were on the highway for so long, the cycle was actually quite enjoyable, and we were smashing out the kilometres, even in the rain.

We got to the turn off just before Springbank, less than 20km from Calgary and the rain got heavy. I could barely see a meter in front of me, which meant motorists could probably not see us at all.  So, we pulled off the highway to find some shelter. It was a Saturday and there were some markets on (well, packing up) at the Wild Wild West Event Centre, so we headed there in the hope to find some shelter. Luckily, though the markets had finished, we were able to dry off a bit. One of the lady’s from the stall even took pity on us and gave us a bunch of carrots. After about half an hour, the rain cleared up and we felt like it was safe enough to continue cycling.

Calgary

We arrived into Calgary, the highway traffic got crazy, there were loads of road works, no hard shoulder and we couldn’t get off the damn road. Eventually we took the first exit (which lead to a steep hill) just as the sun came out. We had booked into an Airbnb as we knew accommodation would be crazy due to the Calgary Stampede. After a few wrong turns we found the place, just as the rain started again.

Another rest day off the bikes – and we already felt like we needed it! Next destination: the Prairies!

2 Replies to “Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway and beyond”

    1. No, we were only in Banff for a few hours. We were staying with friends in Canmore, so headed down there for a couple of days. You’re right though, we could have done with relaxing in the hot springs 🙂

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