One of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park is the Johnston Canyon Falls. It is a short hike at less than a couple of miles, but spectacular throughout the entire way. In fact, before even reaching the falls we were fortunate enough to get a moose sighting in Moose Meadow. I was curious as to what brought moose to that particular meadow. I was interested to learn that moose are not grazers, and as such they eat forbs and other non-grasses which are plentiful in this meadow. Frequently they are seen feasting on aquatic plants. This particular moose was interested in our vehicle and actually stopped eating to come check us out. It then peacefully, went on its way. It was a very nice welcome from a resident of Banff National Park.
In the summer time, the Johnston Canyon trail is packed elbow to elbow, however during the winter, it is a quiet, icy wonderland. We strapped crampons to our boots to allow for traction while navigating the trail. We followed the Johnston creek as it coursed it’s way through the limestone valley. A steel catwalk system is bolted to the cliffs through the valley for easier navigation and to keep visitors above the water.
The forces of nature are displayed brilliantly in Johnston canyon. The beautiful limestone that encase the valley, reveal a history of thousands of years in its cross sections. The retreating ice glaciers that once covered the region, molded the landscape to what we see today. Trees all around us are literally bent from the many months of heavy snowfall throughout the year. Thick old man’s beard (lichen) draped over the towering firs and the turquoise, glacier water flowed around us, flickering from the ice and sun.
Upon reaching the lower falls, we had the opportunity to navigate the limestone caves to view the falls from the shadows and listen in awe to the echos of the rushing water. After a short break, we continued on to the upper falls where we had some warm tea and granola while watching ice climbers brave the falls. The view from the top was stunning. Beyond the upper falls is a region called the Ink Pots, where apparently seven cold mineral springs can be found in open meadows.