Saturday, August 28, 2021

Surprise Corner, Two Jack Lake and Banff Ave

Continued from Lake Louise, The Crown Jewel of Banff

If you are an early riser like me, and have already done a few hikes and trails by lunch, you now have a few hours to kill before the sun goes down. Quite a few, actually, as sunset here can be 9.30 pm in the peak of summer, and 830 pm by late August. What do you do?

Surprise Corner

There is a small spot in Banff called Surprise Corner. Why "Surprise Corner"? Who knows ... but the sudden appearance and incredible view of the Banff Springs Hotel (known as the "Castle of the Rockies") is the incredible reward.

From this spot, the hotel has Sulphur Mountain behind it, while in the foreground the majestic Bow River cascades down into the Bow Falls. It looks like a painting, especially when you come early morning, or about 2 hours before sunset. The majestic glow covers everything with a golden hue.

This is an iconic view of the hotel, as well as of Bow River, and is found in many postcards, pictures and movies. There is a small amount of parking, and it also connects to a few trails.

There are quite a few view points once you park your car. You can walk on the road on the cliff (careful!) and see the view closer to the river. Or you can climb up a few stairs to a pavilion and take in the view from there.

When crossing the street, be careful of the traffic. And when driving, be on the lookout for pedestrians! Surprisingly, despite multiple blog posts, tweets and lots of videos on YouTube on this, Surprise Corner is still not that busy, especially in the late afternoon.

Two Jack Lake

Not far from downtown Banff, Two Jack Lake is a picturesque emerald green lake with a grand view of Mount Rundle. 

Unlike many other lakes which known for scenic views, Two Jack Lake seems to lie low under the radar, but is very popular in the summer with families.

The landscape is great for those in search of some fresh air and some distance from crowds. It's quite near to the town (about 10 minutes drive) and is a great place to catch sunset or sunrise.

During summer, visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboard, and hiking. We saw multiple families enjoying a summer picnic or some casual fun in the water.

Lake Minnewanka and Johnson Lake are two other lakes that are quite near to Two Jack Lake. However, Lake Minnewanka is the more famous one of these three, and Johnson Lake hardly has any visitors.

If you are doing the Lake Minnewanka cruise, it makes sense to stop by Two Jack Lake when you are done. It's a big lake, and the beach is very accessible.

 Like Vermilion Lakes, it’s another fantastic lake with Mount Rundle views.

With Mount Rundle in the back, and other small mountains nearby, Two Jack Lake is one of the most scenic views in Banff National Park. If you are into photography this is a great spot, and always makes for a great background, especially if you catch Two Jack Lake at sunrise or when the evening light hits Mt. Rundle.

Banff Ave

You will need to buy souveniers. If you have loved ones back home, you may need to buy some gifts.

What better reason that these to explore Banff Ave! You may also need to eat ... and of course Banff Ave has restaurants galore.

Our hotel was on Banff Ave, which made life considerably easier. If you have to stay somewhere in Banff, stay on Banff Ave, as close to the centre of the town as possible.

These are pretty much some of the highlights of Banff. On this trip we didn't do the Sulpher Mountain Gondola or the Lake Minnewanka Cruise, as we had done those many times before. Rather, our focus was to explore some spots we hadn't seen before. Every time you come here, there's more to do.

Up next: Highlights of the Icefields Parkway to Jasper

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