The cold air hit me like a wave as I stepped out of the airport doors. The wind blew little wisps of white snow along the ground, and the super moon glowed in the crystal clear sky above me.
At first it’s a shock to the system stepping into -30 degree weather (-22 Fahrenheit). Your lungs feel tighter, your skin starts to tingle, and the hairs in your nose feel like they’re freezing. If you hang out long enough your eyelashes will be next, or your moustache, if you’ve got one.
I looked up at the sky and smiled. It’s ideal like this, because when it’s this cold, the crowds stay away, the ice in the air forms rainbows around the sun, and the sunrises are almost like those in the desert, appearing like a layer cake of purple, blue, and pink.
The locals said it was an uncharacteristically cold spell. They apologized (oh, Canadians!), for the cold weather.
But it was perfect, I said, because when it’s wintertime in the Rockies in Alberta, it looks like this:
What is it about the winter in Alberta that’s so amazing? It might be these mountains — the three sisters — posing with the rising sun.
*Special thanks to the bridge for holding up such a nice frame of big, crystallized snowflakes.*
Or this much-loved sunrise lake, frozen.
Perhaps it’s in this gorgeous view of Banff from above, and those rays of sunlight.
Or when the snow came to play in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park, flying right off of tree branches and out of the sky, simultaneously.
It could be the ice climbers making a playground of the icicles.
Perhaps it’s little hidden places in a snowy Johnston canyon.
Or the way that a partially frozen waterfall seems like popcorn icicles cuddling together.
It could be the solitude of a lake that’s otherwise often packed, except for in the cold of winter.
(Photo is a selfie).
But that’s when it turns white, and ices over, and makes these incredible patterns.
The magic could lie in a room that looks like a Pinterest masterpiece, warming you from the outside in just by looking at it.
(This is The Paintbox lodge)
And just down the road, it’s the sunrise reflection on this frozen river in Canmore, a perfect looking glass for the three sisters.
Or when you find a crack in the ice, drawing a racing line in the snow.
It’s in the novelty of the snow machines, operating since it was literally too cold to snow, causing steam at the Lake Louise ski resort.
And a little sliver of the famous Lake Louise still left unfrozen, and a guy in the red who was kind enough to make this photo a bit more interesting by braving a walk on the ice.
It’s enchanting in this snow globe.
Where every few minutes you have to pull over and just stare on in astonishment.
At the dramatic Rockies, and the way the rising sun made them glow gold.
Or the super moon saying goodbye for the day right behind them.
It could be the way that the mountains seem to grow as you come closer, and rise up as you move farther away.
And the way that the sun in that crystal clear sky shines through, unobstructed.
And makes the ground sparkle.
It’s the tea spread that you look forward to that warms you right up.
(at Mt. Engadine Lodge)
This is the kind of place where I could snuggle up for days and days.
And find my inner six-year-old again.
Yes, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the Canadian Rockies in Alberta so magical.
Let’s just put it this way: You can now count me among the many Americans who are googling ‘how to move to Canada.’
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Travel Alberta and Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. Thoughts shared are genuine. Seriously, Canada rocks.
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