Banff National Park

Popular Rocky Mountaineer Stop
Popular Rocky Mountaineer Stop

Canada’s Banff National Park is known the world over for its mountain scenery. If you visit the park you will see people from many different countries who are busy enjoying the wonders of the park.

RVers come from all across North America to enjoy the camping and to enjoy the pleasure of driving through the park. This is a place where high grey mountains puncture the deep blue sky with majestic ease. On their sides, glaciers cling to sidewalls, or fill beautiful cirques. Hidden alpine meadows call to hikers to come and explore their quiet domains cloaked with rafts of colourful flowers, the silence broken by the sudden whistle of the marmot,

RV in Tunnel Mountain CG
RV in Tunnel Mountain CG

or the sharp crack of shifting ice in a nearby glacier. Walk around a shoulder of rock and suddenly revealed below might be the immeasurable beauty of a tiny emerald lake, one of the jewels of the mountains of Banff.

The park is huge, at 6,600 square kilometres (2564 sq. miles). Setting aside the land for protection began in 1883 when workers building the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) discovered a cave with hot running water. The Banff Upper Hot Springs are now are great place to soak in the natural hot water spring, with the facilities for your comfort just at hand.

Motorhome in Tunnel Mtn. Campground
Motorhome in Tunnel Mtn. Campground

There are campgrounds for everyone. A favourite place to stop is at one of the Tunnel Mountain campsites, just a short distance from the Banff Townsite. If you stop at the Lake Louise campsites you are close to the entrance to Lake Moraine and the Valley of the Ten Peaks which is perhaps the greatest view in the Rockies, and is easily reached.

Lake Moraine, and Lake Louise have become a magnet for every tourist that come to the park and this horde of people is spoiling the beauty of what they had come to see. When I first visited lake Moraine, it was at the end of a long dirt road with a little camping area. Now the road is paved, and there is a huge parking lot, and no camping. Now your experience is fighting for a parking spot, and working through jostling crowds. Try to avoid the summer months, if you want to experience what stirred those who realized what a gem there was here.

Handsome elk on guard duty
Handsome elk on guard duty

For years visitors had the opportunity to see a herd of buffalo just outside of town, but they were removed. The good news is the buffalo herd may return to the park although they will be placed in a remote back-country, and not up close for viewing as they were formerly. However, they may expand their range if left alone.

Come to the park and enjoy the great scenery. If you can arrange it, avoid the summer months.

Happy RVing!

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at:

The Frontenac Axis of Eastern Ontario

Random acts of geology create some of our most scenic landscapes. In Eastern Ontario there are over 1000 islands in the midst of the St. Lawrence River.

Canadian Shield pond
Typical Pond in the Frontenac Axis

Thousands of tourists flock there for a boat ride through this scenic region, and hundreds of people happily shell out King’s ransoms to own a bit of the rock.


The islands are the happy result of the Frontenac Axis, which is an extension of the Canadian Shield across the river. The Canadian Shield is the oldest rock in North America. This was the first rock that rose above the ocean’s surface about two billion years ago and has risen and fallen, been bent and folded, and eroded.

Autumn in the Canadian Shield

Then it was eroded severely after being weighted down by massive ice continental glaciers which scraped and gouged it leaving a vast pockmarked land across much of Canada. The Thousand Islands are just the little bits of some of the humps that are left sticking up through the waters of the St. Lawrence River.


The Canadian Shield covers much of Canada from the Atlantic Ocean west to a line that runs northwest through the prairies to the Arctic Ocean. It is a land of thin soils, swamps and lakes that resulted from basins gouged out by the glaciers. The rock of granite and metamorphic varieties that compose the Shield is mostly resistant to water erosion and until streams can carve deep channels we will continue to have forested rugged land with scattered lakes, rivers, and swamps. It’s hard to imagine that before the attacks of the glaciers the Canadian Shield was the scene of very high mountains, now reduced to a lowland, yet still requiring deep road cuts to make travel easier.

Autumn Leaves on a Pond

In lower Eastern Ontario the rather sedate topography of the limestone plain ceases abruptly east of Kingston when you enter the Frontenac Axis. Suddenly the traveller enters a region of road cuts, beaver ponds, and random after thoughts of little farms. Here is a land of small and large lakes often encircled by granite or other hard rock cliffs. Small dams plugged rivers and streams to power water mills that ran sawmills, and ground grain for the farmer. These things are the very essence of that which attracts people to visit and camp in the area.

Canadian Shield Scenery

The Frontenac Axis connects the main body of the Canadian Shield across the St. Lawrence River to the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. It’s possible that the hard resistant rock across the outlet from Lake Ontario is the reason why there is such a huge lake here today. The hard rock became a dam that prevented the glacier from gouging out the bottom of the lake further eastward. This helps hold back the waters of the lake. Without it, the St. Lawrence River might have reached much farther inland.

The Frontenac Axis has been an attractive feature in Ontario counties before the nation began. It’s the name that many of us learned in our little one room schools and it is called this by the Minister of Natural Resources of Ontario. Unfortunately, some groups and been trying to convert its name into the Frontenac Arch but hopefully it will be our Frontenac Axis forever.

For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.  Visit his website at: