Lessons I Learned on a Solo Road Trip to Banff and Yoho National Parks

Emerald Lake Field BC Yoho National Park

I often travel solo and am usually I’m well-prepared, but this road trip to Banff National Park and Yoho National Park was another story! I was mainly concerned with making sure I had winter tires on my car and how much snow would be on Rogers Pass, so I didn’t pay as much attention to the fine details of my trip like when access to some locations closed for the winter season.

I mapped out all of the Instagram-worthy points of interest that I wanted to visit such as Emerald Lake and the Natural Bridge near Field, BC and Lake Louise, Alberta. I even made a Google map to make sure it was all within driving distance for each day—pretty cool, hey? But just you wait… Here are my lessons learned…

Lesson 1: Camera Memory Cards

Make sure ALLLL your cameras have memory cards in them. Yes. I didn’t do this and had to buy an overpriced card in Banff that I barely used. Yes, that’s right. I discovered that my Sony a7 is my new favourite camera and used it the majority of the time. It will be “the” camera for me for a very long time—at least I have an extra memory card now! Just need to start collecting lenses. Let me know in the comments below what your favourite lenses are!

Lesson 2: Dress Warm

Banff Gondola…definitely a MUST but prepare ahead of time. If you think you’re dressed warm enough…you’re not. I was in my heaviest, longest winter coat for -60,000°C, fuzziest scarf, and winter boots with heavy-duty tread, but if I had nuts they would have frozen off. And I was there in the fall…winter is coming. Brrr… Remember you’re at the top of Sulphur Mountain and the Canadian Rockies and it’s very windy—it will go through any sweater or yoga pants you have on… dress warm!

Banff Gondola Canadian Rockies Sulphur Mountain

Banff Gondola Canadian Rockies Sulphur Mountain

Lesson 3: Hair Style or Hat?

Don’t spend all that time doing your hair all fancy for Instagram if you’re just going to cram it under a toque. Stepping out onto the deck after riding up the Banff Gondola…the wind will flatten ANY hairstyle and swirl it around to look like you were in a tornado. If that’s the style you’re going for, you’ll be all set.

Lesson 4: Go Early

Go early and beat the tour buses. ‘Nuf said.

Lesson 5: Discover New Places

When all else fails…follow a tour bus. Yes, this contradicts my previous lesson for a good reason. I decided to follow a tour bus on this trip when I was curious why they turned onto a random road and was rewarded with a view of gorgeous waterfalls!

Bow Falls Banff National Park Alberta

Lesson 6: Plan Ahead to Make Sure Roads are Open

It’s great to plan ahead but also make sure that the places you want to visit are open in the off-season. Moraine Lake Road, many rest stops, and other remote Instagram-worthy locations closed for access after the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend. I will need to plan another trip in the spring or summer.

Lesson 7: Double-check Accommodations Before Booking

A good deal on a hotel isn’t always a good deal. Note to self: strange noises in the night are NOT mice in my suite…go back to sleep. It turned out my mini-fridge had a mind of its own and made the same noises in the daylight. I won’t complain…much…I did enjoy the gas fireplace both nights.

All that said, I had a fun time exploring my own backyard—2 days is not enough—and will go back to these national parks, plus Jasper National Park, again in the spring or summertime for a completely different snow-free, boot-free, and winter coat-free experience! I highly recommend more than one visit. Have you been?




  1. gab_gone_dutch
    October 21, 2017 / 9:40 am

    incredible pictures! Banff is so high on my list and this post just makes me want to visit even more. you’re so lucky to live nearby!

    • October 21, 2017 / 9:58 am

      Thank you! It was a quick visit and I want to go back in the summertime too. There’s so much to discover any time of the year!

  2. Jin Chu
    October 21, 2017 / 10:06 am

    Beautiful photos! Banff is actually pretty high on my bucket list and I hope to go one day, but I would love to go on the off peak seasons. You listed some great things to keep in mind when you’re there. Thanks for sharing!

    • October 21, 2017 / 6:49 pm

      I hope you can visit Banff next year, it’s so beautiful! I think I’ll go back in April or May when the snow is gone, for a different experience.

  3. Jenn Neilson
    October 21, 2017 / 10:12 am

    Haha I haven’t been “out west” for 10+ years but hopefully will soon (I live in Nova Scotia) thanks for the tips!

    • October 21, 2017 / 6:49 pm

      Then it’s definitely time for a trip! I’m heading to Nova Scotia next month and hope to have 2 days to explore Halifax!

  4. October 21, 2017 / 10:13 am

    Thats actually very cool tips! thanks for that – you just never know ;)) And the place is simply amazing!

    • October 21, 2017 / 6:50 pm

      Thank you! It is so gorgeous!

  5. October 21, 2017 / 10:22 am

    I’ve been between a Sony a7 and Fujifilm X series forever now, but your photos are absolutely beautiful! Still love my Nikon but dang, would having a smaller camera to tote around would be wonderful.

    • October 21, 2017 / 6:50 pm

      Thank you! I love my Sony a7 over the DSLR… I brought both on this trip but ended up using the Sony all the time. 🙂

  6. Michelle Chumbley
    October 21, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    This is definitely one of those destinations that I want to visit in every season. It looks so beautiful covered in snow but it’s always a bummer to miss out on closed parts. Gorgeous pics!

    • October 22, 2017 / 5:26 pm

      Thank you so much, I appreciate it! I agree that it’s a beautiful location!! I missed Moraine Lake by one week and do want to go back in the spring/summer.

  7. Biang Bustos-Velazquez
    October 21, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    I love your photos so much! I’ve mostly seen summer photos of Banff and it’s even more dreamy with the snow! ❄️

    • October 22, 2017 / 5:24 pm

      Thank you so much! I appreciate it! It makes me want to go back again and explore more. 🙂

  8. Amanda Koh
    October 21, 2017 / 8:15 pm

    Great tips! I once also had to buy an overpriced memory card which was so annoying and also ended up losing it 🙁 I use a Sony too and love it! Would love to visit, definitely going to add that to the list although it’s 24 hours away from where I am!

    • October 22, 2017 / 5:24 pm

      Thank you! Oh no about your memory card! Yay, we’re “Sony-sisters” lol I am a huge fan after this trip! Banff and Yoho are worth the trip if you can take a few extra days from where you are!

  9. October 22, 2017 / 5:38 am

    hahaha I really love all of these lessons. By the way, your photos are beyond stunning!!!

    • October 22, 2017 / 5:23 pm

      Thank you so much! I appreciate it!

  10. Brooke @ wreckingroutine
    October 22, 2017 / 7:27 am

    We were just in Banff and Yoho this summer. The parks are absolutely stunning. Love your photos with all the snow. And yes, the tip to go early before the busses is KEY!

    • October 22, 2017 / 5:22 pm

      Thank you! I would like to go back for the spring/summer experience too. I typically just drive through on my way to Calgary so I am learning to stop and enjoy the sights!

  11. Lindsey Messenger
    October 22, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    This is the BEST! I loved reading this! These locations are definitely on my bucket list and I actually do want to see them in the winter so all of this is GOOD to know haha!

    • October 22, 2017 / 5:22 pm

      Thank you so much! I appreciate it! 🙂

  12. Suraj Shah
    October 23, 2017 / 9:50 am

    So awesome! Good job Sherri! You go girl!

    • October 23, 2017 / 9:36 pm

      Thanks Suraj!

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