An Incredible 10-Day Road Trip in The Canadian Rockies

LATE FALL IN THE ROCKIES

Early last summer, I started to plan a trip to Cuba with one of my best friends. As we were getting things organized and starting to wrap up the planning of what would be our epic Cuban Thanksgiving, our plan started to unravel. By October we officially determined that we were not going to be able to make Cuba happen. We frantically started looking for alternatives... we settled on a 10-day road trip through the Canadian Rockies.

While visiting from early to mid-November, we missed peak foliage, and were too early to experience the winter wonderland. I’m not going to lie, I was a little more than disappointed. However, once we were there, we found our timing to be an incredibly positive one. WE HAD THE PLACE TO OURSELVES! Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but we did not count the local wildlife as part of the tourist population, human or otherwise.


We noticed how empty it was as we drove along the Icefields Parkway - we only counted 12 cars in either direction! The solitude was exhilarating as we headed towards the mountains, our ever inviting playground. However, this solitude in a usually populous tourist destination posed a unique and challenging issue, finding lodging. While our initial agenda was to camp for the majority of the time, we realized we were not quite equipped to do so without catching a cold. Rather we opted for warm beds and hot showers, which were quite welcome after a day in the November wind and rain.


When it comes to Banff National Park, BC, everyone is always raving about how amazing Lake Moraine is (and by everyone, I mean every travel magazine I read and all my Instagram heroes)! So naturally, it was high on our list of places to visit. We had been told it was a short walk from the parking lot to the lake, so there would be no reason not to take the drive to check it out. After waking up early and photographing Lake Louise down the road we decided to make the 14.5 km/9 mile drive to Lake Moraine. We made it all of about 400 meters/yards before coming to a "Road Closed” sign.  With foolish levels of consideration,  we naively decide that it would be a good idea to make the trek....


When I say we were naive, I was not kidding. The 14.5 km/9 mile trip was only ONE WAY! A hike with slushy snow that varied in depth from 0cm-38cm/0”-15”, could’ve hardly been described as a simple stroll through the woods. We soon discovered our city legs and city boots had not yet been chastened to the reality of hiking through 29 km/18mi of slushy snow. So after hiking along the road for a very long while, occasionally stopping to filter some water from the creek and take some photos, we made it to Lake Moraine. At this point I should also add that we forgot to take into consideration the increase in altitude over the previous 9 miles... The thin air allowed the temperatures to drop much quicker. The lake, and its legendary gatorade color, was frozen solid…. Just take a moment to appreciate that. The lake that we had been hiking to all day, was a sheet of white ice…. At this point one becomes very thankful they are with a close friend and not someone they barely know, because we both burst into a fit of laughter from the anti-climactic moment that had just dawned upon us. We laughed and joked about how years from now we will re-tell this story, and laugh at the ludicrosity of that moment. Nonetheless, at the end of the day we were happy to have done it. However, given the opportunity again…. Well you’re wrong, I would do it again.


Looking back, despite our lack of planning, research and ill-furnished camping supplies, this trip turned out to be one of my favorite road-trips I have ever taken. The feeling of being truly alone, in some of the most incredible mountains in the world, was a humbling experience and given the opportunity I would undoubtedly go again this fall.

Here are a few more Pictures from the trip, check out my website and Instagram to follow along with my adventures.

All photos where taken by Geoffrey von Zastrow

To see more images check out website and Instagram.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Geoffery von Zastrow

I am a 25 year old, self-taught freelance photographer based in Seattle. Growing up in east Africa, I first discovered my love for photography by exploring the plains of the Serengeti. I work to capture the beauty and...