BANFF, ALBERTA- Canada – I’m not a photographer (don’t tell my editors that), but I sure love taking control of the Banff, Alberta web cam, zooming it up and down Banff Avenue, gazing in on Sulpher Mountain and checking our our Canadian Rockies paradise.
Check out the recent pics in the Banff Photo Gallery. I snapped some of them myself! Yes, CanadianRockies.net Photo Editor John Marriott would almost be proud. (He uses actual–well–real photo equipment) But for those of you who just want to have some fun checking out beautiful Banff, Canada, well, the Rockies.com Banff Web Cam is just like, way cool.
The Banff Live, Streaming TV cam is located on top of the Clock Tower Mall on Banff Avenue. Just way, way, way cool.
Book Banff Activities at Banff Travel.
Banff National Park, Alberta
What to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Banff? Obviously there is the option of heading up one of the three local ski hills to enjoy a day on the slopes. The other extreme is also open – doing some shopping and enjoying a coffee in Banff town. However, if you feel like seeing some gorgeous nature and stretching the legs then the Fenland Trail is a great choice. It is only a short jump out of Banff and starts right at the Bow River. Your final destination will be the Vermillion Lakes – beautiful regardless of season.
Just as you walk out of Banff town across the train tracks, you immediately take the first turn off the road away from humanity and into the wilderness of the woods. Lions, tigers and bears – oh my (especially the bears) Trees that have been weakened in storms rock back and forwards making a whining noise that sounds like some sort of very depressed animal. The ground had begun to form a path of ice as winter fast approached and keeping ones balance was enough of an effort. The river was half frozen and the thought of sliding directly into this ice bath kept me on my toes.
Squirrels rushed around trying to claim any remaining nuts around the wood. A jogger somehow kept her balance as she moved swiftly past our careful walking crew. What struck me about the sights that surrounded me was the absolute serenity. This is such a gorgeous part of the world; you could happily stroll in here on your own for hours just walking slowly through the wildlife.
It is not the longest walk but eventually the Vermillion Lake comes into view. In summer you will see people swimming and canoeing here but at this time of year just after the water has frozen, there was just one family of four with their ice skates strapped on playing some hockey. The father even took the child’s stroller onto the ice for a spin. There is no way you could ever get bored of the sights of the Canadian Rockies or the activities to do around Banff. My only regret was that I hadn’t rented some skates from town to join the hockey game!
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Banff and Jasper weren’t just given the name of National Park because it is a catchy addition. Under this tag, the nature and animals of the Rockies have been protected and it is now as much a home to them as it is to people who live here. As a Banff local, I rarely pass a day without seeing an elk sipping water by the Bow River or at least a couple of Ravens fighting aggressively for a delicious piece of bread. Jasper, if anything, is even better endowed with a choice of animals to gaze at.
There are 69 different kinds of mammal that call Jasper home including 29 smaller mammals such as the Hoary Marmot, ground squirrel and porcupine (don’t try and pet the porcupine). These smaller guys are relatively common to see but most people are after the big and more elusive boys. Wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk and mule deer all call this National Park home. Of course the Black bear and Grizzly bear also live in these parts though you may not be as excited to see those as you walk alone through the woods. Trust me – the eyes play tricks after a while and every tree trunk becomes an angry Grizzly in your head!
Your best chance to see Wolves are around the Snaring River and highway 16. During winter, you can often spot them on the Maligne Lake Road. Coyotes hang around the same spots or in open prairies too. Obviously don’t try to get too close, if they are feeling a bit cranky, they do get aggressive. Elk too, during rutting season can get very aggressive if you venture into their territory. The Bull elk, during fall, will use his antlers as a weapon and can do some serious damage to those who get in his way.
There are about 300 Black bears living in Jasper’s forests though they can also be cream, cinnamon or brown coloured. Grizzlies are much bigger than their Black relations and are distinguished by a huge hump of muscle across their shoulders. Jasper National Park has around 200 grizzlies making it one of the worlds largest protected bear populations. If you spend at least a day or two in Jasper, you would be extremely unlucky to not come across some wildlife. You would also be pretty unlucky to come across a tree trunk that actually turns out to be a bear!
See downtown Jasper and surrounding Jasper National Park, and the occasional elk with this live, user-controlled Jasper web cam.
Banff National Park, Alberta
There are few places more magical in the world that Banff at Christmas. The streets are carpeted in white, snow covered trees look more dramatic than ever and there is a general feeling of Christmas cheer around this glorious little lit up town. Make sure to book your hotels early, as it gets busier than a burger stand at an obesity convention in the Canadian Rockies at this time of year.
Regardless of what time of year it is, there is something going on in Banff. If you are planning to spend a few weeks vacation, skiing is a must. There are quite a few choices including the Big 3 hills of Sunshine, Norquay and Lake Louise. You can get a pass for all three but they all offer something different. Sunshine tends to have the most variety and the biggest crowds, Norquay is nice and close to town and Lake Louise has great snow for boarders. All three are open on Christmas Day so you can spend your day in the most unique way possible.
Keep in mind that a few restaurants and bars will be closed on Christmas and New years Day meaning that it is even more important to book early as everybody has the same idea of a nice hangover dinner with the family! There is plenty to choose from including the classy Le Beaujolais or the more atmospheric Elk and Oarsman bar and restaurant.
New Years Eve is something memorable. The corner of Banff Ave and Caribou is Banff’s Times Square. Everyone gathers on the streets in full view of Wild Bills’ famous clock where midnight means madness. Whether you choose Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper, you are guaranteed a particularly special holiday season up here!
How to look for a job in Banff
Banff National Park, Alberta
By John McKiernan
Although Banff is not generally considered a place where people come to follow their careers, it has a lot else on offer for the prospective worker. The variety in jobs to work is practically endless. The best way to start looking for work is by heading to the Job Resource Centre or simply turning up and picking and choosing between the ‘Help Wanted’ signs. However, there are alternatives.
Depending on the season, competition can be fierce for the jobs in town. Get into the Job Resource Centre and ask for help “localizing” your resume. Banff is a bit different to what you may be used to. One page of your resume will usually suffice. It has to be concise and informative. Keep in mind that employers have to read through a mountain of resumes, they may not want to read about your pet parrot, even if it can sing the Canadian national anthem. Though we would never suggest lying on your resume about experience, the odd …exaggeration is almost expected up here!
There are a lot of great bars in Banff. It is very easy to hand out a few resumes and sit contently in the bar waiting for that phone to ring (don’t forget to always have credit on your cell). What you should notice fast is that employment is a revolving door up here. The reasons vary. Often after the summer season, there is a huge exodus as French Canadian workers return east, students head back to the library / student bars and those that remain move up in the pecking order. When Sunshine Village opens in November, many people leave their jobs in town to start work on the hill. Employers wont mind if you return every week asking if there is any vacancies. If anything, they will be impressed by your persistence.
Lower Your Standards
As mentioned earlier, this is not the place to come to follow that lucrative career as a child Psychologist. Though there may be limited opportunities in your chosen field, it is more likely that if you want to be able to ski / snowboard around Banff in winter, you will have to try something new. Just like you would when drunk in a bar, you have to be ready to lower your standards. For example, it is difficult to jump straight into serving with those beautifully large tips on offer but there are other ways in. Dishwashing or dish pig as it is affectionately known in Banff is a good way to get your foot in the door. It is a small town and in the blink of an eye, you too could be looking back nostalgically on those days spent having fun in the restaurant kitchen.
Yes, some jobs pay absolutely awful but have a look to see what perks are on offer. Many employers provide accommodation and food either free or subsidized. Many employers such as Sunshine Village will provide you with your ski pass which saves a small fortune. If you work in a ski clothes store, you will get big discounts for your gear and possibly ski passes too. The difference between $9 an hour and $15 an hour may seem huge but ask about the perks and you may be surprised.
Which Job Suits Your Social Life?
Like most seasonal workers, it is likely you have moved to the Rockies with the main purpose of hitting the slopes as much as possible. Ask questions about what hours and shifts you may be working. There are few things more depressing than finding that your work schedule is so hectic that your ski’s or snowboard remain practically unused.
Where to Look For Work
Look at the local boards around town and check the local free papers which come out on Tuesday and Thursday. If you are currently reading from out of town, here are a few sites to get you a head start.
The nights are getting longer, blankets are coming out like pimples on a teenager, and there’s a smell in the air. Must be that time of year.
As much as I love the little critters hanging around in the Lake Louise environs, I have to take issue with one particular squirrel that has become more famous than the Canadian Rockies themselves. The Banff-based Crasher Squirrel, as it has been dubbed in the blogosphere, is poking his furry mug into photos all around the world, from Jasper to Johannesburg.
Since I’m not the most photogenic mountain man out there nor do I get my photo taken very often, I decided to investigate. Then again, it’s not fair that a chip n’ dale wannabe get’s more hits than I do.
After interrogating a few tourists, a bull moose, and a pile of pine nuts, I came up with a theory. The people over at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel say the chipmunk has been jumping in front of still shots for years. Even when the famous Ansel Adams came through the Canadian Rockies, this critter was known to have ruined a dozen rolls of film. Knowing Ansel Adams’ temper, it’s amazing the rascal is still around.
They say that the lil nut-muncher is handsomely paid, as well. It’s no wonder he’s squeaking for joy all the time. Every time he literally shocks a couple of naive tourists into never forgetting their vacation in the Rockies, he makes out like a bandit, not to mention a Hollywood star.
So I’m calling the rodent’s bluff and plan to set up self-timing cameras all over Banff National Park, from Canmore to Minnewanka. You can’t trust a squirrel. Just from light research on the internet, I found the following: “Squirrels are generally clever and persistent animals. In residential neighborhoods, they are notorious for eating out of bird feeders, digging in planting pots and flower beds to pull out bulbs which they chew on or to either bury or recover seeds and nuts and for inhabiting sheltered areas including attics and basements.” In basements for the love of Mother Nature!!!!
So, what do you think? Have we been had by the shrewdest of squirrels? And more importantly, whenever something of this magnitude comes up I just say to myself: WWDS or What Would Darwin Say?
Some 290 kilometers from Banff, the “other” side of the Canadian Rockies is located in the heart of Jasper National Park. If you’re one of those people who can’t spend a week in a tent, you will have to find accommodations that fit your personality. I have made a list of the BEST places to stay in Jasper, the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
In Jasper Townsite, I recommend Amethyst Lodge. This hotel is decked out with services, including places for pets, great coffee makers and of course Wi-Fi. My favorite aspect is of course the cozy lounge where I can rest my weary bones after a long day of hiking through the Jasper wilds.
Next I visited Chateau Jasper, the newest member of the local Mountain Park Lodges. Offering 119 fully equipped rooms and suites, this lodge definitely has a mountain rustic feel to it. An indoor pool and Jacuzzi made me think twice about leaving to continue my search for Jasper’s best hotels and lodges.
It was time to visit the deluxe Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. I needed a bit of luxury in my life, I figured. Being a mountain man full time takes its toll. Here visitors can practice their golf swings on an 18-hole course and spend downtime in the saltwater pool, spa, and steam room. Like the rest of the hotels, there is a gourmet restaurant and the whole package is presented in a charming country décor. Still, it might be too rich for my blood.
Just 8 kilometers from Patricia and Pyramid Lakes, the Marmot Lodge is a great option for travelers. Embers Steakhouse and the fireside lounge will make you feel like you are on vacation. Here I had a conversation with a couple from back east. They asked me if the Canadian Rockies were open all year round. I said for a mountain man, there is no closing time.
Right next to Jasper National park and a short walk from the Tramway, the rustic Lobstick Lodge is a fine option. With the Canadian flag flying high over the roof, this a true piece of Canadian Rockies culture. The hotel boasts nice panoramic views and great food. For the price, it’s a jewel.
The town of Jasper has a population of some 4,000 people, but in high season this can increase considerably due to its popularity. Come early or come late, the mountain man guarantees you will find a piece of the Rockies.
When I was thinking of an outdoor activity for my youngest child, Gunner, floating the Athabasca river through Jasper National Park quickly flowed through my mind. Because Gunner is still a cub, trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing are still out of his league. The calm of the Athabasca river is perfect for the entire family.
In addition, families don’t have to go far to put in. The Athabasca river runs so close to Jasper Town, the whole family can walk to the starting point, catching a real Rocky Mountain tan the whole time.
On the raft, there are sure to be other families to share the whitewater experience. The Athabasca river rapids never exceed class 2, meaning that a little white water will get the raft moving with very little chance of tipping over. Even if the kiddies did fall into the drink, you can bet they are all strapped into life jackets, wet suits and booties to keep their bobbing heads above water.
Just call Jasper Vacations to book the rafting day trip. Prices run between $65 and $100 per person. Remember that each person or child must weigh at least 90lbs (40kg).
The Athabasca river forms in the Columbia Icefields, north of Jasper townsite. I’ve been told that the word Athabasca comes from an indigenous language meaning “the place where plants grow one after another”. Floating the river, one quickly realizes what plants the word is referring to, something like a mountainous jungle.
This river was designated a Canadian Heritage River due to its important role in the 19th and 20th century fur trade as well as the construction of railways and roads opening up the Canadian west. Counter intuitively, the Athabasca river runs north, traveling 1,231km before dumping into Lake Athabasca. The water system then continues north as the Slave River into Great Slave Lake, draining into the Mackenzie River system and eventually into the Arctic Ocean.
Thus, it wouldn’t be a lie to tell little Gunner than if we were to stay on the raft, we’d end up in the Arctic Ocean, floating among the icebergs.