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Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park is a beautiful mountainous National Park in the Canadian Rockies that is easily accessible from the Calgary Airport.  Hikes in Banff seemed busier than in Jasper but not shoulder to shoulder as we have experienced in our closest National Park, Yosemite, on a weekend. There are many hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops in Banff. I suspect many travelers fly into Calgary, drive to Banff and make their way to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. All the mountain parks here are grizzly and black bear habitat.  We carried bear spray in a harness on our belt on all our hikes and my littlest son made plenty of noise to scare off any bears that might not smell us coming. No bear encounters on our hikes.

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

We started our travel into the Canadian Rockies from the town of Jasper in mid-June 2016. Temperatures in Jasper were cool, around 37-45F (3-7C). We realized quickly that gas prices in Alberta was more affordable compared to Northern British Columbia, even in a remote National Park. Though busy, we did not have any trouble with parking, and the crowds were pretty light compared to our closest National Park, Yosemite (though we traveled through the Canadian Rockies on weekdays). Since these parks are a natural habitat for both grizzly and black bears, we carried bear spray with us on all our hikes, though we did not have any encounters. Given the cool weather, we layered thin fleece jackets to keep warm, which we easily shed when we warmed up.  There is a town of Jasper that has amenities such as hotels, gas and restaurants.

Kettle Valley Railway/Othello Tunnels Hike, Hope, British Columbia, Canada

Just two hours from the bright lights of Vancouver (British Columbia) lies this small town which acts as a gateway to the Fraser Canyon. Hope has been a place we have just passed through in the past, but this time due to a hotel issue along the way, we arrived in Hope with enough time for a hike.

Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

We enjoyed a great hike this last May long weekend. We climbed 2000 feet in elevation to see the top of two waterfalls at Yosemite National Park: Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.

Panum Crater, California, USA

On the way to Mono Lake, we stopped at Panum Crater. Panum Crater is part of a chain of craters called the Mono-Inyo Craters.  Panum Crater is the youngest of these craters that formed 600 to 40,000 years ago. There is a hike into the crater plug and around the crater on the rim. The trail into the crater has some loose rock.  The boys found some obsidian rocks along the way.  There is no shade on this hike, inside the crater and on the rim. The crater rim trail took us on a ridge, affording beautiful views of Mono Lake and the island that sits in its midst.  Docent led hikes are available for these trails. There is a visitor center in the town of Lee Vining that gave us helpful information and a map of area attractions.