My $150 Banff Vacation

This past week my wife and I have been finalizing plans for our upcoming babymoon.  A 3 night stay at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun.

 

Not exactly the kind of place a spendthrift like myself would normally indulge in, but my wife has been hard at work balancing a full time job while carrying our baby-to-be, so we’re going to splurge a little bit.  To be fair though, I did manage to knock about $500 off our airfare by booking a flight out of Tijuana instead of San Diego (Stay posted.  As neither one of us speaks Spanish this may turn out to be a bad idea)

 

But not every vacation needs to be this expensive.  Especially if you’re working on a budget.  While planning for this trip I couldn’t help but think about the trip I took to Banff with some friends a few years ago.

 

It was the summer of 2017, the year of the Solar Eclipse.  My buddies and I were mostly living out in Provo, Utah at the time.  A group of 10 of us had decided to go to Banff together.  One of the 10 had family that lived on a small farm just outside of Rexburg Idaho, a place that just happened to be inside of the ‘totality zone’ of the Solar Eclipse.  We decided that would be our meeting point. We made the short drive up on August 20th, the night before the solar eclipse.  We camped out on the backside of the farm, and when we awoke in the morning we watched the moon blot out the sun. 

 

The Sky went dark around us, the temperature dropped, the birds started flying erratically.  It was an incredible moment to behold.  And with that, we began our weeklong trip up to Banff.

 

The Drive Up

It was an 11 hour slog up to Banff.  To break up the drive we decided to stay a night in Montana along the way.  It did not disappoint.  Along the highway we stopped at sunset to snap the picture shown below:

 

   After nightfall we pulled into the Ashley Lake campground just outside of Kalispell and spent $15 to camp there for the night.  ($1.5 per person).  In the morning we packed up our hammocks and made the trek north.  Along the way we passed a dozen turkeys and a pair of bighorn sheep

 

GROCERIES

As Kalispell was the last big town on our way up to Banff, we decided to get our grocery shopping done here.  We ran into the local Walmart, and divided the shopping list.  Being that we were pretty much all broke college students we opted for the cheapest food we could find.  Bagels & Cream cheese, Pancakes, and eggs made up our breakfast options, pb&j, chicken salad sandwiches, and trailmix made up our lunches, while hotdogs and biscuits & gravy made up our dinners.  Our total came out to be $259.04. Split 10 ways it came out to be about $5 per person per day.  Pretty good for being on a budget. 

Lake Louise Campground

We spent the next three nights camping at Lake Louise Campground. We had to reserve two campsites for the 10 of us.  $145.42 total, or $4.85 per person per day.

We used the campground as our staging ground, making day trips to places like Takakkaw Falls, Peyto Lake, the Athabasca glacier and various other places in the Jasper, Yoho, Banff national parks.

Peyto Lake

On Friday night we checked out of the Campground.  We had made reservations to backpack up to Ribbon Lake and spend the night.  The path up was a rugged trail, switchbacking at various times, and even turning into a cliff face with chains to climb at others.

 

 

Trail to Ribbon Lake

Trail to Ribbon Lake

We spent the night at the beautiful lake, bear tracks etched into the muddy shoreline.   The next morning we continued the hike out.  Unlike most out-n-back trails this was a through hike, we started on one side of the mountain before our hike, and finished on the other at the second, leaving a car parked at either side. The views were inspiring. It was big mountain country out here.

 

 

When we got back to our cars, we drove into the nearest town, Calgary where we had rented an AirBnB for the last night.  We stopped at the Banff hotsprings along the way, and then spent the evening in town, stopping at a pub for some grub and to watch the mayweather vs mcgregor fight.  The next morning we packed our gear and made the drive home.

Total Trip Receipts:

When all was said and done we had spent $1610 on the trip.  Divided by the 10 of us the total came out to be $161 per person.  Not bad for one of the prettiest camping trips I had ever been on.

 

 

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