One of our best trips to date was an overnight trip to Radium hot springs. This trip involves hiking and camping, but if that isn’t your thing then it can be easily adapted to a more luxurious and less strenuous version.
If you are camping, you will need:
tent, sleeping bags, roll mats, warm clothes – whatever you need to be comfy sleeping.
bug spray/mosquito coil (green coils that burn and keep mosquitos away)
food supplies for camping/ water for hiking. Eating utensils for BBQ
a lighter/firestarters if you don’t have the patience to start your fire the old fashioned way.
we’d suggest buying head torches for camping – one of our best purchases.
Our itinerary was as follows:
leave NW Calgary and head west on Transcanada highway towards banff (we recommend leaving before 10.30am to be able to fit everything in).
Stop at safeway/Tim’s in Banff to pick up supplies for camping, dinner and a packed lunch.
Continue on the Transcanada towards lake Louise and take the lake louise exit followed by the turn off towards Moraine lake.
Arrive at Moraine lake and hike up towards Consolation lake.
Moraine lake is a definite must see if you visit the Rockies. It’s one of the most beautiful and breathtaking views we’ve ever come across.
Once we’d soaked up the views, we set off for Consolation lake. We decided to do this in June which was extremely ambitious. As we started down the path, it gradually became more and more covered with thick snow, something we hadn’t anticipated in our shorts and t-shirts. This transformed the hike to the lake from an hour jaunt into a 3 hour crusade. To cut a long story short, this was a real test of endurance and perseverence and with hindsight, snow shoes would have come in very handy! Having said that, it only added to the hilarity of the ordeal and added to the anticipation. If you can stomach trudging through snow for 3 hours, the payoff is spectactular.
The views absolutely blew us away and after a bit of climbing on the rocks, we found a fantastic spot to take some pictures and have a much needed snack. When we did this, the snow was virtually untouched after about an hour and we were obviously the only group stupi..ahem brave enough to attempt it.
The journey back was only about an hour because we could easily retrace our footsteps and not have to slowly and painfully forge a new path through the snow again.
So four hours later we finally re-emerged back at our car triumphant, if not a little exhausted with soaking wet feet.
We wholeheartedly recommend trudging through the snow to reach the snow covered consolation lake, but understandably it may be a little too sadistic for the average person and should probably only be reserved for the most adventurous, fit and reckless among us. For a normal hike on a pristine path, we recommend waiting until July to make absolutely sure the snow has melted. The views are still absolutely spectactular, although significantly ‘less snowy’. If you plan to do the hike once the snow has melted, please ensure you have a group of 4 or more people and carry bear spray with you. Lake Louise is grizzly country and safety in numbers is recommended. Indeed, if you travel with fewer than 4 in your party, you may be fined a hefty sum if caught by a park ranger. Travel with fewer people at your own risk! Please don’t be put off though, this path is normally pretty busy, and if you heed our advice then you will very very likely have a fantastic yet uneventful hike.
Next stop, the outdoor clothing shop in Lake Louise for some new socks!
Once we’d dried off, it was straight on to Radium. Back on the main highway and head back towards Banff. Take the turning towards Radium Hot Springs and drive for approximately 1hr 40 to 2 hours.
This road had some fantastic wildlife on it last time we drove it, and we saw a record 7 bears (4 black and 3 grizzly) along with a herd of Big horn sheep!
Just before entering the town of Radium, the hot springs are on the left, but we recommend setting up your tent while you still have the energy, rather than coming back to do it in the dark! You’ll drive through a big gap in the mountains and burst out of the mountains into a big valley. Welcome to the small town of Radium!
A quick search on google will show you where the camp site is. We recommend staying at the Redstreak campground, and we recommend booking in advance. This site gets pretty busy in the summer! It usually costs around $30 per night per site.
After pitching our tent we decided to head for dinner at the Old Salzburg restaurant in Radium. This was delicious austrian style food (schnitzel etc) and was a welcome energy boost after our long day. We decided to save the BBQ for a midnight snack! Remember in BC it’s 13% tax not 5%, so don’t be surprised if the bill is bigger than you expect. This is why if you’re camping or buying supplies we recommend doing it in Banff first!
Then it was off to the hot springs for a late night soak before closing. It’s generally open until 9-10pm and 11pm on weekends. This was the perfect way to unwind and we definitely recommend it.
Finally, back to the campsite for a few beers and a bbq.
The next day we decided to stop off in Banff to see a few other sites, but you might choose to simply drive the whole way in one go or even spend some more time in Radium. There are plenty of golf courses in Radium and nearby invermere, and a day of Sunday golf would be a perfect way to round off the weekend!
If camping isn’t for you then we recommend staying at the Radium resort. They have an excellent golf course, nice quality rooms and a big breakfast! It’s a lot more expensive that camping though obviously.
This was a fantastic and relatively inexpensive adventure with tons of activities and we wholeheartedly recommend following in our footsteps, and it can be easily adapted to be less strenuous and more luxurious if need be.