The trail to the Mount Edith Cavell glacier was closed for repairs and we would be entering at our own risk. We decided to enter anyway, assess the situation and turn back if it proved too dangerous. But standing right next to the ice-filled glacier lake was definitely worth the calculated risk. Here I was, experiencing the crisp, cold air and the breathtaking beauty of the glacier, with our two little daughters strapped to my husband and me! If you had told me last year it was possible to travel the Canadian Rockies (and enjoy it) with a 3.5-year-old and a 21-month-old, I would have said ‘No way José’ and opted for a beach holiday instead. But my family thoroughly enjoyed this adventure, and here are some tips:
Rockies Tip#1: Allow for some recovery time from your long-haul flight.
Our first long-haul family adventure began with a 9.5-hour flight from London Gatwick to Calgary. We arranged to arrive a day earlier which allowed us some time to rest and get accustomed to a different time zone.
Rockies Tip #2: Invest in a comfortable and spacious mode of transport.
My sister and her husband arrived the next day and picked us up in our mode of transport for the next 10 days – a people carrier. Although there were only 6 of us in total, we upgraded to a people carrier that could fit 11. The extra space and comfort was well worth the extra cost as we spent a significant amount of time in it, driving from one location to another.
Rockies Tip #3: Go with the flow and be flexible.
Early on, my husband and I realised there were limitations to the types of hikes we could go on. After about an hour’s hike up Ha-Ling Peak, we told my sister and her husband to go on without us and we turned back. The trail was too steep and rocky to negotiate with the kids strapped to us. It was a good thing we turned back as it took my sister and her husband another hour to reach the peak!
Rockies Tip #4: Invest in a good quality, age and weight-appropriate sling that is appropriate for the amount and type of hiking you’ll be doing.
The amazing glacier lakes were definitely the highlight of our trip: the aquamarine colours and the stillness of the lakes were mesmerising. The easy, relatively flat hiking trails around the lakes took about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (depending on how far you choose to go) to complete. V1 enjoyed throwing stones into the water and manoeuvring her way around the rocks under my husband’s watchful eye. V2 would usually have a nap in the sling when we were hiking. One of the lakes even has its own posh hotel where we had a delicious lunch and a relaxing walk around its manicured gardens.
Rockies Tip #5: Break up your itinerary with non-hiking activities to keep the kids engaged!
The Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola ride was one of the non-hiking activities that afforded us glorious views of the Rockies. We managed to walk out to the lookout points before a storm hit. The kids enjoyed the ride up and we recovered from the rain by having a hot drink and a snack at the cafe.
Rockies Tip #6: Always book accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen and dining area.
We stayed in two main locations during the trip: Banff at the Hidden Ridge Resort for 6 nights and Jasper at the Austrian Haven Ben and Breakfast for 3 nights. The first location was quiet, spacious, with 3 double bedrooms, a separate living area and a lovely fireplace where we toasted some marshmallows for the kids. The Austrian lady who owned the second location had an astounding 9 cats living with her! Both locations had fully equipped kitchen areas which were extremely handy as we had most of our breakfasts and dinners in the lodge. We adults would often enjoy some after-dinner dessert at the dining table accompanied by lovely chats (after putting the kids to bed, of course).
Rockies Tip #7: Always be prepared. Especially for bad (wet) weather.
Our hiking trails shifted from glacial lakes to exploring windy canyons and waterfalls as we went further up north. One of the canyon trails was especially challenging as it was drizzling throughout – it took us 3 hours to complete but the sights we took in made the hikes well worth the time!
Rockies Tip #8: Treat yourself too!
A holiday is not a holiday without some shopping. We spent our last day at the CrossIron Mills Outlet Mall. Bizarrely, the kids enjoyed a visit to the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World Store which had up to 400 taxidermy wildlife mounts, including a gigantic aquarium. V2 was quite puzzled as to why the animals were not able to move. Both the girls also had a lovely time at the dinosaur-themed indoor play area whilst yours truly bought a Coach bag for only £20.
All in all, it was a successful and memorable trip for the whole family to a place well worth revisiting!
Bookmark this guide for a future trip, and plan for a mid-year activity with the kids. Click here to find out what’s happening in June and July!