Banff National Park is beautiful. It’s not very far from our house at just under 4 hours which makes for a nice half day drive.
Here we are, heading down the driveway – all packed up in Scobby Doo the Boler (yes, he needs some work!).
Okay – here’s the best part – we got a campsite right on the water. Yes! At Two Jack Lake they have a handful of sites that are lake side. Site 44, our site, is the best one! Super awesome for paddleboarding.
And, we’re on the water.
One of the best parts about camping in our Boler is that it only takes us about 25-30 minutes to set up camp. Super quick, I think. Then we get to head off and have fun.
Tacos for dinner! This has become a camping classic. Beans, corn, and jalapeños. From the taco shells to a new jar of salsa, the only thing that needs to be in the cooler is the cheese.
On our first camping trip of the season I forgot all the spices – let me tell you, don’t forget the spices!
Check out this elk in his own world. So neat.
Our view – I’m literally standing by the fire and took this picture. It’s beautiful and peaceful.
Cheers Banff – you were great. The three sisters are a great send off as we make our way home.
Happy camping – and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Mountain UTVing in Calgary
What? Yes! I know it’s a bit odd, or perhaps out of character for us, yet this is what we did on Tuesday, September 4. For Bryce’s birthday I put together a little scavenger hunt and the end prize was a day of UTVing in Ghost (a public land use area outside of Calgary).
First – it took me about 6 hours of research to find a place to rent a decent UTV, find an area where we could legally ride, and find a location with all-terrain trails. That’s the reason for this post – to hopefully help out another non-utver or a newbie looking for a place to ride.
Alberta is full of Public Land Use Zones (I had no idea!) and you can ride UTVs, horses, and even camp there for free. Here is the Government site.
The site above has a lot of info and is a little tricky to navigate. If you want the quick map to where we rode – by Ghost River – then download here: GhostPLUZMap-May2018
Where to Rent
I could only find a handful of places that rented UTVs and in the end we selected All Season Rental Adventures out of Calgary. Here are just a few things to be aware of, if you’re renting.
- Large damage deposit – our’s was $4500 – on top of the rental
- Only third party liability insurance
- All Season holds the damage deposit for up to 72 hours
- You need to clean the UTV before returning it
Those few things would have been awesome to know before hand. When we rented the person told us the UTV was brand new, the last renters had totalled the pervious one (basically, they bought a wrecked machine). Ya, that sounds like a great investment! Also, Cochrane, which is on your way back to Calgary from Ghost, has 2 places you can bay wash your UTV. Worked out well.
Trails to Ride
Okay – this is where we started our ride: South Ghost 4×4 Staging Area.
If you check out the Ghost Map, we rode the following trails:
- 47 – 13, 13 – 7, 7 – 3, 3 – 1, 1 – 4 – then we did it in reverse (total time, about 2 hours)
- 47 – 45, 45 – 49, 49 – 51, 51 – 53, 53 – 95 – then in reverse (total time, about 2.5 hours)
- We played a lot (just racing back and forth) south of 45 and between 53 – 95
Okay – time for the adventure!
This is the brand new Polaris RZR 900. We got it up to about 105 KM/Hour. I say about because we stopped looking at the speedometer past 90 KM/Hour and concentrated on the terrain instead. We for sure broke 100. It feels so fast, like really really fast.
This is Bryce, all smiles, in the staging area. We are ready!
I got to drive, too.
Funny note – there is a handle bar (you can see it above) on the passenger side which reminders me of bar you’d see on a rollercoaster. When we picked up the machine I laughed to myself, thinking – who needs that? Well, let me tell you – you’ll fly out if you don’t hang on (yes, they have seatbelts).
Another funny story? I was nervous about getting mud and debris in my eyes so I brought an old pair of Bryce’s ski googles. After about 8.4 seconds of riding I was screaming “there’s dirt in my eyes – I can’t see!” Bryce, without goggles, was like “no, Ali – there’s no sand or dirt.” He slowed down and I wiped my eyes. Good to go. Peddle to the floor.
“Stop – stop!” “Seriously?” “Yes – I can’t see!” So, we got out of the UTV after having been in it for 1.4 minutes at this point, and I took off my goggles and my helmet. My face looked like it was seasoned with pepper. Clumps and clumps of disintegrated foam from the ski goggles were all over my face and in my eyes! Yuck.
Bryce couldn’t stop laughing on the inside, yet held it together long enough for me to wash my face with one of our water bottles. Needless to say, I was fine without the ski goggles, which, by the way, are in the trash at the Cochrane bay wash.
Here’s a photo of an unimpressed Ali. Bryce wanted to take a photo of the mud on my face – I, having gone through the goggle incident, was now hypersensitive to anything on my face.
Ah – helmet off, now I can wipe my face – much better!
I couldn’t get over the views, so beautiful and we only saw about a handful of people on our adventure. We actually saw more cows than people.
There you have it – one muddy UTV leaving the playground of Ghost.
Overall, we had an awesome experience. We spent 5 hours riding trails and racing across open land. Had lunch, enjoyed the sun, and the company.
If you’re looking for a little adventure, then check it out – it’s fun (just don’t wear old ski goggles).
Camping! Yes – we went camping again. This is our fourth trip of the season and we’ve got two more left. I’m excited since fall camping is beautiful. Okay – check out our photos.
Elk Island National Park
The best part about this park is that it’s only 55 minutes from our driveway to the campsite. That’s it – less than an hour!
Ah, the hazy ski is from all the recent wildfires in BC – makes for pretty photos.
Meet Lexis – she’s a sweet pup that we keep an eye on when her family is off exploring the world and catching up with other members of their family. Remember Lexi Girl from an earlier post? She’s so sweet and was a true camping pup.
Lexis even paddleboarded with us. Life jackets are important – safety first.
We love dinner (or any meal, for that matter) over the open fire. So delicious.
The perfect mallow.
And, we spotted a whole heard of Bison on our way out.
Elk Island, you were blew our expectations – with lakes, hikes, and wildlife – we had a blast. Our campsite (number 26) was the best. Secluded and tucked in from all the hustle and bustle going on around us. You can certainly hear other people, yet the visual privacy is nice.
Overall, we recommend camping at Elk Island National Park – just be sure to get out and see the park.
Thanks for visiting – and who else loves fall camping?