From Calgary we headed west towards the mountains and picked up the 40, a beautiful sweeping mountain pass that was just lovely to ride. We met a couple of British bikers on Polaris Slingshots and chatted about touring before turning north towards Banff. We saw some deer type animals who were malting, losing their fluffy winter coat, and watched as twenty or so cars that were decaled up and looked they were part of a really made the most of the winding road heading in the other direction. Highway 1, or the Trans Canada Highway, is famous for being a road trip route across Canada, but it’s mainly fast and straight dual carriageway, and we wanted something a little more interesting and so stayed off it as much as possible.
Riding to Radium Hot Springs… in the rain.
Radium Hot Springs in the Rain
The route we chose to take from there has been coined the “Golden Triangle”. I think it’s most well known as a 330km cycling route, but it’s on nice highways and we’d read it was great for motorcycles too. From just north of Banff, where we would have liked to have stayed the night as we’d heard it was a lovely place but the prices were simply astronomical, we took the 93 into Kootenay National Park towards Radium Hot Springs. The road was fun to ride and the scenery beautiful, but unfortunately the rain came which made us very cold so we didn’t hang around too much en route. We stayed in a motel on the outskirts of Radium Hot Springs (unfortunately we arrived too late to take the waters), and ate in the Austrian restaurant down the road, it really felt like we had arrived in the mountains.
The view from highway 93.
After dinner we chatted with a couple of bikers who were exploring the area. They normally camp but were too cold and so had booked into a motel. I don’t blame them, and felt a little better hearing another couple say it was too cold to be under canvas! It also rained heavily overnight, which let’s face it would have been pretty miserable in a tent.
Golden and the Wooden Bridge
Thankfully by the morning things had dried and brightened up somewhat and so we continued on our way around the golden triangle route. From Radium Hot Springs we headed to Golden, along the river and through the Columbia wetlands, an hour of beautiful fast sweeping bends and lovely scenery including a ride through Luxor and Harrogate 🙂 We stopped in Golden as one of the guides we read suggested we walked across the longest span free standing wooden bridge in the country, which was sadly not quite as impressive as we had though it might be –I guess we were expecting it to be quite old but actually it is less than 20 years old.
The wooden bridge at Golden.
Our next stop was at Takakkaw Falls, a ride off the main golden triangle route on a much more minor road called Yoho Valley Road, with some hairpin bends for added fun. At the end was a reasonably busy car park with a trail leading over the river and to the falls, with plenty of noisy rushing water and some lovely views. Note that this road is closed over winter.
Takakkaw Falls, at the end of Yoho Valley Road.
Lake Louise is one of those iconic places that, while it is busy with tourists, must be seen. It’s okay being a ‘typical’ tourist sometimes, especially when you are visiting a place like this (I know we were tourists the whole time we were there). It was incredibly busy in the parking lot and cars were driving round and round looking for somewhere to park up, but we managed to find a bit of grass in the back corner just as the bikers parked there were leaving, so we wedged the bikes in the gap and took a wander down to the lake.
I knew from photographs that it was going to be a pretty stunning sight, but I was still blown away when I saw the colour: turquoise blue, surrounded by mountains and with the famous chateaux dominating one side. We can definitely see why it’s popular. It was fun to sit and watch others enjoy the scene too; so many people having their photo taken, taking selfies, posing, vlogging even, along with plenty of people on and in the lake. The bustle did get to us though; it was quite crowded. We quite fancied a hot chocolate but we didn’t feel relaxed in the Fairmont in our bike gear, so we got back on the bikes and headed to see another lake instead.
Riding to Morrine Lake.
From there we headed to Moraine Lake (the road to the lake is closed in winter), another brightly coloured lake with mountains surrounding the beautiful turquoise waters. Wow this part of Canada is seriously beautiful. I would dearly love to spend a week in this area for some hiking and general mooching about. One day.
Driftwood at Moraine Lake.
Bow Valley Parkway
I mentioned earlier that we tried to avoid the 1 as much as possible; the fast road certainly had the scenery but it also had all the other traffic, and for the last part of the triangle we took advice and headed onto the Bow Valley Parkway, designated the 1A, the original road through this area, to bypass the busyness and hopefully see some wildlife. The information we read suggested that this stretch of road would be our best chance at seeing bears, moose and various other animals that live in this part of the world.
Looking for bears along the Bow Valley Parkway.
The road was lovely, and much less busy, taking us through forest and through some simply stunning scenery. But we didn’t see so much as a squirrel! What a shame! There were lots of signs saying there are wolves in the area and some of the wilderness area and all the campsites here had been closed because of the sightings; maybe they’d eaten all the other animals?! But never mind, it was still superb riding.
Lake Louise. Take me back.
And with that we were back in Banff and at the start of the triangle. An excellent route through some gorgeous scenery and along some fun roads to ride. In the area? Check out the Golden Triangle.