About 25 years ago, when my hair was much darker and my wife's hair color had achieved a perfection that will never change, we took a trip to Banff National Park. We stayed for several days and liked it, of course.
It being our first time in Alberta, we drove up to Lake Louise, about an hour north, had lunch at the famed Chateau Lake Louise, did a short hike along the equally famed Actual Lake Louise, then headed north again on the glorious Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park.
There, at Jasper, we rented a modest cabin with great views of mountains and water and trees, sat on the front porch, gazed at the beauty surrounding us, held hands, listened to the quiet, hiked a little, stayed for just two nights ... and realized we'd done this trip all wrong.
"I've heard it over and over and over again," says Todd Noble. "When they get to Jasper ..."
OK, here's the deal — and let's make this clear: There's nothing wrong with Banff National Park or the town of Banff within it. That park's scenery is gorgeous. The castlelike Banff Springs hotel — a Fairmont, like the luxurious Chateau to the north and the less-palatial Jasper Park Lodge farther up the road — is justifiably celebrated. You can dine well and shop well at Banff, and in winter, the skiing is first-rate. There's a reason nearly 4 million vacationers vacation there annually and good reasons many of them at least make a quick stop at Lake Louise.