The most beautiful landscapes of the Rocky Mountains in Canada are the lakes in the heart of the mountains. There are plenty of activities to do when visiting the national parks. You can take the chairlifts or the skylifts that take you to the top of the mountains to have a panoramic view of the mountain, or you can make boat trips on the Lakes.

These activities are quite expensive: between 30 and 40 Canadian dollars per person. It is very good and convenient if you have the budget or if you accompany young children, elderly persons or persons with reduced mobility, as these activities are accessible to everyone, safe and well supervised. Otherwise I advise you to rather go by car near the Lakes and then take free hikes in the nearby areas, short walks or longer, depending on the time you have available.

When is the best time to go? Prepare your trip in advance

The ideal time to visit the Canadian Rockies by car, is in the summer. Attention, here summer lasts two months: July and August. Indeed, you may still have snow in June and early September. So remember to book your accommodation and your rental car in advance. You can also visit the Rockies in winter, see the completely frozen lakes, it is also beautiful from the pictures I’ve seen and you can also ski. But here I speak of the Rocky Mountains in the summer, I visited them in August with my friend Sarah for a week.

Get your equipment in order

You will not just be sitting in your car. You need pants, jackets and boots capable to withstand harsh weather and walking on ice. On the glaciers for instance, the winds can go up to 30 miles per hour, with sudden dark cloud blankets and snowfalls. A good place to get these is Cabela’s or Amazon. You’ll also need a light backpack. A good selection of daypacks is Rangermade’s.

Jasper National Park

jasper national park

Jasper is a small friendly town in the Province of Alberta where the”Canadian” train line passes through. It is a good point of departure for visiting the national park, its beautiful lakes and canyons. It is classified in the world heritage of Unesco since 1984 and with more than 10 000 square kms, it is the largest national park in the Canada. There are many hiking trails around the lakes and along the canyons. It is also the national park where you have the greatest chance to observe wild animals. There are some kinds of animals along the railway near the city center. Unfortunately or fortunately, I didn’t ever find myself face to face with a bear!

Lakes to see less than half an hour drive from Jasper: Lake Annette, Lake Edith, Lake Beauvert, Patricia Lake and Lake Pyramid. The Pyramid Lake has a small island in the middle where weddings are celebrated. We arrived there right in the middle of a wedding ceremony. My favorite was Lake Beauvert, it was really worth the time.

Maligne Lake and Canyon

A little further away, about an hour’s drive from Jasper, we found Maligne Lake. On the road from Jasper, don’t miss hiking a bit at Maligne canyon. And along the way you can stop to see the Medicine Lake from the car. On Maligne Lake, you can also take a boat trip or walk along the Lake to take advantage of different points of view.

Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, it is also called the Glacier  Parkway (Highway 93). It is a scenic road in the Canadian Rocky Mountains connecting Jasper and Banff National parks. Wonderful views throughout the 230-kilometre journey! Spare at least one day to take it, because there are beautiful views on the road and great lakes and glaciers to see.

Athabasca Falls and Canyon

Athabasca falls are 30 kms south of Jasper on the road to Banff.

athabasca falls

The Athabasca glacier is part of the Columbia Icefield, it is one of the largest icefields in the world. There are several ways to visit the glacier: Glacier Adventure is a truck with huge tires that can take you on the glacier to walk on. You can also do a walk with cleats on the glacier, without a doubt, the best way to experience the glacier and see closely how it is like, its particular relief, its crevices. Of course we went with a guide who knew the terrain.

on the athabasca glacier

On the Glacier

More info on the tours:

Lake Louise

The Gondola (chairlift) for overview on Lake Louise

You can take the Lake Louise gondola for an overview of the landscape and the lake surrounded by mountains.

Lake Louise with the Fairmont hotel

One of the most photographed lakes in the world, with the stunning Fairmont hotel at the end, several hiking trails around and adorable squirrels.

Hotel in Lake Louise: Lake Louise Inn

Banff National Park

A walk near the Centre of Banff follows the Bow River to Bow falls. Here in summer Otto Preminger shot the film with Marylin Monroe: The River of No Return.

Cruise on Lake Minnewanka

Cruise on lake minnewanka

Cruise on lake Minnewanka

The Banff Lake Cruise is a cruise on the beautiful Lake Minnewanka.

The Banff Gondola is a gondola which takes you at the top of Sulphur Mountain for a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. You can also continue to mount to the top for a complete view.

Several hiking trails are also there.

Several lakes are to be seen in Banff national park: the most impressive is probably the Moraine Lake, absolutely beautiful. I advise you to walk along the Lake and mount on the mound in front to have a view overlooking the Lake.


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ethiopian storeIn  his only morning ritual of fall and rise, Haaruan Ali Maye kneeled to unlock  the shutters of the Oasis Café.  He was  the only Somali in Lewiston who didn’t pray — not the five times the Koran  prescribed, not even once to save his failing business.

Looking down, Ali Maye saw his new  “Air Humaras” had come untied again.  He  fumbled with the mercury blue “Snake Laces” the store clerk had pawned off on  him.  (He’d fallen for the line about  urethane coating.)  Ali Maye never  thought they’d be so stiff and hard to tie, but a Maine winter could freeze  anything.

Ten years earlier, an athletic  scholarship had plucked Ali Maye from the outskirts of Mogadishu, and dropped  him in Atlanta, Summer Olympic hosts from the year before.  In the frenzy for all things track and field,  Georgia Tech sought to capitalize on one of those quirks in evolution, that  east Africans could run very fast very far, but not quite far enough away from  starvation and civil war.  Or so the  board of trustees saw it.  They loved the  idea of Haaruan Ali Maye: half rah-rah sports, half white man’s burden.  In the end, chronic swelling at the tibial  tuberosity cut off Ali Maye’s funding.   He hadn’t run since.  Or, really,  couldn’t.

Yet somehow, despite the cold of  that bitter January morning, as he stood, lifting the metal slats that barred  the entrance to his Oasis Café, Ali Maye couldn’t help but bounce, his legs  fresher than they’d been for over a decade.   His calf muscles responded, taut and sprightly, his knees again like  Davidian slings, each ball poised in socket.

Ali Maye tapped the ground with his  right foot, heel to toe, then his left, as if warming up for a race.  Then Ali Maye did something else he hadn’t  done in years.  He smiled his tight gummy  smile, the one that cradled the pencil mustache on his plump upper lip, which  people so often mistook for a sneer.   You’d never know by the way he hid them, but Haaruan Ali Maye had the  kind of teeth that should be shared with the world.  No stain could stick — his bones, if exhumed  millennia from now, might be yellow with age, sinews desiccated and marrow  leached away, but those teeth would still be white.  At 29, a Somali man with no wife, no kids,  those teeth were going to die with him.

Ali Maye entered the Oasis and  flicked the light switch.  During fatter  times, a muted saffron warmed the place in a soft oriental lambency, but Ali  Maye worked from a different set of colors then.  Now, just a solitary bulb hung strobing above  the register.  Ali Maye walked over to  the far corner and turned on the wall-mounted television.  Underneath, a spider swayed in timekeeping  from its dustless hammock.

Ali Maye unearthed a starchy Kleenex  from the inside of his breast pocket.  He  wasn’t used to shirts with pockets, but that morning had put on his  finest.  After a hollow apology to other  spiders elsewhere, he squeezed till it popped, and walked down the hall to  flush it away.  Inside the bathroom, Ali  Maye lifted up the toilet’s lid by its red shag cover.  He pulled down on the wooden handle.  Water seeped in.  Again he pulled, the water level rose, and  started to overflow.  The tissue spun in  place, turning clear as it sucked in water.   Ali Maye stared at the black spot in its middle.

Meanwhile, on the TV the WMTW  morning news blared, the anchor smugger than usual, though Ali Maye was out of  earshot:

City  officials in Lewiston, Maine, are confronting a problem straight out of a 1950s  horror flick as a mysterious blob has taken over a major sewer line.  According to city officials, the doughy,  90-foot mass is comprised of grease, flour and rags, and has been blocking a  stretch of 48-inch pipe under Main Street.

Ali  Maye reentered to learn the following, out of context though it was: City officials say they will replace  the section of sewer line, at a cost of between $40,000 and $60,000, beginning this week…

“That  explains the toilet,” Ali Maye sighed, and in the same breath wondered how  feckless a man he was to have followed the thousands of real displaced Somalis  up to Maine, hoping for some charitable windfall.  The way he saw it, he’d diced away his  integrity for a do-it-yourself kit of refugee blackface.

And that’s how Ali Maye’s run of  misfortune began, some eight years earlier, in late ‘99, after Georgia Tech cut  him loose.  By the fall of 2001, he was  no longer a student, in part or in full.   And after that particular September, maybe Ali Maye was a refugee of  sorts, a brown-skinned Muslim in the South.   Whatever the cause, he fled, northward bound, finding work at the L.L.  Bean Factory in Freeport, Maine, where he was soon let go for “overuse of the  employee discount.”

But Haruaan Ali Maye had no fleece  to show for it on this boreal January 13th seven years later over in Lewiston,  just a half-hour north of Freeport on Route 136.  Ali Maye wore nothing at all over his gray  dress shirt, the left breast pocket now slightly misshapen, having lost its  tissuey spine.

Still, L.L. Bean had been right to  fire him, quantitatively speaking; no one man could need that much Goretex™.   But like some Cushitic Robin Hood, Haruaan Ali Maye had given it all,  more sold really, at remarkably below wholesale prices, to those realer Somali refugees, who were  otherwise unprepared to survive the brutal New England winter.

And so life went on as a filler of  gaps in Lewiston, Maine.  At first, Ali  Maye taught English lessons to the refugees — he could never seem to escape  them — and who he soon found weren’t even real Somalis at all, but Bantus,  whose Mozambican forebears had been enslaved to his own back in the  1800’s.  They looked nothing like  him.  Due to the tincture of Arabia at  play in his light skin and aquiline nose, Ali Maye was singled out by the good  people of Lewiston, who rarely took him for a Somali, not when the other  thousand were so clearly from the same stock.


It wasn’t until the third knock on  the door that Ali Maye caught himself standing in front of the Café freezer,  sliding his hand over his wrinkled left breast pocket, for what reason or for how  long, he did not know.

Ali Maye made his way to the front  entrance, where he imagined a nine-headed repo-man-hydra was awaiting him.  Instead, it was Nima Dubed, the girl with the  olive pit eyes.  Nima Dubed, whose  Jansport bulged with tabut and kuchey, the leather pouches which  preserved cooked butter for several months.

“Mr. Maye, would you like to try  some of my mom’s ghee?” she inquired  with a sweetness both hard and hard to see through, like clarified honey that  had begun to crystallize.

“It’s really popular, in several  flavors now, maybe you could add it to the Café menu?  The Halal Grocery Store carries it, and  even…”

“I’m sorry Nima, but I can’t.  I’m closing the Oasis, leaving Lewiston, I  think, for good.”

Nima crinkled her nose in a pout.   Just like her mother did.  Her  brown eyes shone brightly, contrasting with her dull red veil.

“But we need you Mr. Maye, you’re  part of the downtown revival.  That’s  what my mom says.  She even throws henna  parties for the old white ladies.  Henna,  Mr. Maye!”

Haaruan Ali Maye could not believe  little Nima Dubed now lectured him on  “downtown revival.”  Had it really been  five years?  She must have been eight or  nine then.

January 11, 2003.  The date was etched in his memory, full of  promise and letdown, like a botched Lasik procedure.  That morning, no thanks to L.L. Bean, Ali  Maye had started his first shift as janitor at the Lewiston Armory.  As unluck would have it, a group of white  supremacists planned to assemble there that same day under the banner of “The  World Church of the Creator.”  The cause  célèbre?   To put an end to the toxic influx of Somali immigrants.  Since crackpots eat their own, only  thirty-two came to support the World Church.   Meanwhile, across town at Bates College, the “Many and One Coalition”  returned fire with a counter-demonstration 4,000 strong.  It should have been four thousand and THREE,  but the Dubeds had mistaken one protest for the other, ending up at the Armory,  where they were soon handed signs touting “RaHoWa!!!” by a bearded Hell’s Angel  named Coma.

It didn’t take long for Nima’s  mother Leila to decide “Racial Holy War” wasn’t for the Dubeds.  About as long as it took the 32 World  Churchgoers to surround “the three niggers sent to spy on them.”  And so Abdulrazak, husband to Leila, father  to Nima and potential man of the hour, puffed out his concave chest, crossed  his arms until his elbows thrust out like sharpened doorknobs, and with blind  faith in some Lewistonian  sense of fair  play, proclaimed, “It’s a free country and we’ll leave when we’re ready!”
Abdulrazak then spat on the ground,  marking his territory with body fluid in the way mammals do.  You’d think with a name like Abdulrazak he  could hold his own, but no.

And so Coma let fly a lazy haymaker,  anchored by a wurst-sized thumb, that knocked Abdulrazak onto his back and out  cold.  As blood pooled next to the  spittle of his one-time defiance, the jeers came out, slowly, then altogether:

“Shouldn’t have married such a  pussy!”

“What do you expect, it’s simple  genetics…”

“A true Caucasian triumphs against  the horde!”

The vitriol spewed, harsher and  harsher, until the mob set to detailing Leila and little Nima’s future lives as  sex slaves.  And though Abdulrazak had  since regained consciousness, he stayed down on his side, like a fetal pig  partway dissected.  Besides, from his  view on the blacktop, he could see someone approach, in uniform, presumably the  authorities.  Or at least a security  guard, baton atwirl.

Across the Armory courtyard, Ali  Maye adjusted his Nabber Grabber to the shortest setting, and fished his  name-tag out of his right cargo pocket.   Looking up, he noticed the crowd, in all likelihood the “Allies of the  Armory.”  Seeking to make a strong first  impression, Ali Maye swept up a trail of cigarette butts as he made his way  towards them.

As he approached, a fiery woman with  mottled-gourd skin began the obligatory, “GO BACK TO AFRIC––” until she saw Ali  Maye in uniform, and hiccupped.

Ali Maye seized on the  hesitation.  He saw these were no “Allies  of the Armory”, and that on his first day, he had a man down and a spill to  clean up.  He dropped to one knee, took  out his rag, and used it for the first time to mop up Abdulrazak’s bloodspit,  popping little air bubbles as he went.

From the ground, Ali Maye dusted off  the Uncle Tom impression he’d learned watching standup in his Atlanta  days.  With a fake stammer and a flash of  white, he disarmed the World Church.

“Oh don’t you worry about this mess  here, these folks are just the cleaning crew, fresh off the boat, we don’t even  pay ‘em.  The little one too.  What’s the point sending her to school?”

And as he rose, he swooped young  Nima into his left arm, yanked Abdulrazak up with his right, and nipped at  Leila’s long, graceful heels as he led them out of the Armory Courtyard and  into the safety of the maintenance closet.   He locked the door from the inside before calling the police.

Ali Maye saw himself a damnable  coward, though the WMTW evening news sure didn’t.  Do all employers videotape their janitor’s  first day?  In any case, the Armory  averted a certain P.R. disaster and race riot on their hands thanks to  “Lewiston’s newfound cult hero, Haruaan Amy.”   The offers for interest-free loans started coming in the very next day.


Nima Dubed kept tugging on Ali  Maye’s sleeve, harder and harder, until she tore his cuff like it was parchment  paper.

“Mr. Maye!  Are you listening to me?  If you’re not gonna buy anything I have to  go.”  As she turned to leave, Ali Maye  pressed a hand onto her overfull backpack.

“Oh, I’m sorry Nima.  It’s a hard day.  Tell your mother, if she’s free, to stop by  and help herself, before it all spoils.”

He shut the door behind her and started a pot of spiced tea on the lone  working burner.  Ali Maye looked at his  watch— a quarter to noon.  For Maine in  January, this was midday, and the weak sun had passed its zenith.  For a Muslim man of faith, it was time to  pray.

Instead, Ali Maye shook open a black  trash bag and began to empty the industrial freezer.  He stared at the last gray lump of gol — fat from the camel’s hump — once  so popular with Bates students, in particular those black-jeaned hipsters who  wore their culinary queerness like an ironed on badge.  Into the bag he tossed the icy clod of camel  fat, wilted lettuce sticking to its sides.

For the last three years, the Oasis  had survived more on Lewiston’s commitment to racial harmony than Ali Maye’s  skill in the kitchen.  Besides roasted gol, only his laxoox was even passable.  That  he didn’t serve pork might have doomed the Café from the start, as most of  Lewiston was strongly French-Canadian.

Ali Maye had actually considered  adding a ham panini to the menu, that is, until 4th of July weekend 2006, when  Brent Matthews, a local depressive, threw a frozen severed pig’s head into the  Lewiston mosque.  Of course, Ali Maye  wasn’t there at the time, not being a religious man.  Matthews shot himself in the head six months  later; it was all a misunderstood joke, he had said.  Ali Maye never bought the panini press.

The spiced tea was now ready.  Ali  Maye slid the freezer door closed and rubbed his hands over the steaming  pot.  Still numb from handling the frozen gol, Ali Maye’s right nipple showed  through his dress shirt, his left ever obscured by the added thickness of the  wrinkled breast pocket.

Another knock, different from  Nima’s, broke the silence of pensive failure with a TACK TACK TACK.

“One sec Leila, I’m coming,” Ali  Maye shouted, as he dusted a second cup of tea with ground cardamom.

Then all of a sudden, with a  sprayshattering of glass, a cinder block crashed through the palm fronds on the  front window display, and careened across the Café floor, upending two chairs  and a table before pinning them against the far wall.

“Hey Sand Nigger, why don’t you come  outside and play?” a deep voice taunted.   Leila Dubed it wasn’t.

With the gritty crunch of boots on  glass, three men hopped into the Oasis through the new hole in the window.  Even through their thick down jackets — not  L.L. Bean — Ali Maye could tell they were rail-thin, which meant  meth-heads.  The scrawniest had a  vice-grip on an ash Louisville Slugger, but it was the one with red hair who  spoke first,

“You mud coffee motherfucker!  The blob is your fault!  Lewiston never had none of this bullshit  until you Arabs came!”
Ali Maye looked down to avoid eye  contact, focusing instead on their Redwing steel-toe boots.  Each wore the cheaper buckskin model but had  spray-painted it black.

“No disrespect,” Ali Maye shot back,  “but that’s Ethiopians who drink coffee.   We’re Somalis.  It’s totally  different.”

“I don’t give a shit.  All I know is you broke the sewer with your mud coffee and your camel hump and you flush it down and clog the drain and the  sewers and now there’s A GIANT MONSTER BLOB on the loose and it’s your fault  cause you made it!  T, Billy-Mac, hold  this fucker down!”

“Blob, what blob? I don’t know what  you’re talking about,” Ali Maye tried to tell them, but the time for talking  was past.  T and Billy Mac braced Ali  Maye against the kitchen counter, smiling at him with their yellow mountain  range smiles.

“This’ll teach you to make a Muslim  voodoo blob, you sonofabitch!” Red snarled, pummeling Ali Maye with left hook  and right.
Like chimes, Ali Maye’s white white  teeth fell to the floor, tinkling softly against the tiles. Nauseous from  swallowing blood and pulp, he stayed conscious only by counting the fleshy  grooves where his teeth had been.  Ali  Maye flashed to his skinandbones childhood in Mogadishu, to a time of much pummeling  and toothlessness.  Never again.

He clutched blindly at the  countertop, for a butcher knife, a rolling pin, a garlic press, anything.  His wet fingers slipped on plastic.  The gol.  Ali Maye wrapped the black trash bag  around his free hand like ribbons of taffy.

He grinned a toothless grin and spit  red onto Red, who wiped his face as he licked his lips, blood and spit  miscegenating inside his mouth. Billy Mac eased his grip as he looked to  Red.

Ali Maye torqued his right arm back,  then swung it across his body, connecting the gol with Red’s left temple, shattering it like a November  pumpkin.  Red crumpled in a heap, T went  for the bat, and Billy Mac just stood there, shredded by what he saw.

Ali Maye rose slowly, twisting his  right arm in jerky figure eights until the bag of melting gol fell to the floor.  Light  from the loss of blood and bone and camel fat, Ali Maye sprinted to the hole in  the window, and jumped through it, slicing his head as adrenaline lifted him  too high.  T started to give chase as  Billy Mac helped Red to his feet.

Ali Maye landed on the sidewalk,  where he skidded on the hard packed snow.   T hit a softer patch, and sunk in, weighed down by his Redwing  boots.  Hand pressed to his left eye socket,  Red pushed Billy Mac out the front door, and yanked the bat from T’s nailbit  fingers.

Like three steel-toed hellhounds  weaned on Big Gulps and bathtub crank, they took after Ali Maye.  All in vain.   No man alive could have run Ali Maye down that day.

Past junkyards and empty car parks,  Ali Maye sped up and slowed down, teasing and taunting them.  He turned around and jogged backwards,  laughing to the indifferent sky as he ran. To the banks of the Androscoggin Ali  Maye took them, jutting back and forth through silent pines.  Red, T, and Billy Mac followed him for hours,  until the winter Maine sun went down.

Then, for a long while, Ali Maye  just stood there, before lowering his gaze to his Air Humaras, now icy and  brown.  Dull flecks of snow began to fall  on him, commingling with the dried blood that had formed a second skin.

The wind started to pick up, cutting  through his cheap dress shirt like he had none.   Snow now drifted onto the backwoods road, where all was clear moments  before.  Ali Maye was going to freeze to  death.  He lifted his eyes; his head hung  in the quiet.

There, thirty yards off, barely  visible in the fading twilight, were three jets of steam heat rising up like  rope.  Ali Maye limped over to the  source, then kneeled to wipe away the snow, revealing the cross-hatched ridges  of a manhole cover.  He had found the  road back to Lewiston proper.  His hands  traced the cover’s edge: “Etheridge Foundry — Portland ME.”  In the middle, stamped with the pride of  industry, read the letters “S-E-W-E-R.”

Ali Maye stuck his fingers in the  three holes, and tried to pry the cover loose.   Nothing.  He gathered sticks for  leverage, and placed them around the cover like candles, but they all snapped,  four at at a time.

Ali Maye clutched at his waist, no belt.  Though his feet were numb, he remembered,  dimly, he was wearing shoes.  Ali Maye  screamed as he untied them, succumbing to that mad frostbite of the mind.  Snake Laces!   He held his shoestrings gingerly as he wound them into and out of the  two closest holes of the manhole cover.   It weighed about as much as he did.   The iron disk vibrated, dislodging flakes of rust from around its rim.  One inch.   Two inches.  Ali Maye kicked his  sneakers underneath the lid just as the shoelaces frayed — then snapped.

Rung by rung, Ali Maye descended  into the Lewiston sewer.  He walked  barefoot through the dark tunnel, blind like a mole with a frozen nose.  If he could smell, burnt frying oil and a  laundromat dipped in mold would have assailed him.  But Ali Maye could only feel the dryness of  it all.  The dirt on the rounded walls  crumbled to the touch.  The sewer didn’t  drip.  Pipes ran empty, or sounded like  it.

After a time, either his eyes  adjusted or there was a light in the distance.   Ali Maye marched on into delirium.   The light grew brighter and sharpened into a freestanding lamp with a  checkered green shade.  He drew nearer,  and made out the silhouette of a hunched man sitting in a striped lawn  chair.  The man was old, with a craggy  face and rheumy blue eyes.  He wore a  sheepskin coat and warmed his hands over a portable generator.  The old man didn’t acknowledge Ali Maye at  all, except to point to the wide mouth of sewer pipe at his left.  Ali Maye turned, stopped.  Eyeless and inert, the Lewiston Blob seemed  to stare back at him, a concrete belly button full of lint.  Ali Maye stumbled towards the blob.  He dug his hands into its warmth.  By the time he made his bed in the grease and  flour and rags, Ali Maye was already asleep.

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