We planned one long drive day to get us up north and have a balance of only 2-3 hour morning drive to locate a campsite in Banff. Our actual route varied from the intended due to navigation and pilot errors! On plus side, I believe we took a less popular route as a lot of US folks come in on Eastern side of the park and through Calgary. That meant less traffic in general and only a few cars and trucks at the border.

Navigation error

With a full drive day planned to get us close to Banff, we set off from Sandpoint, ID. The small loop at the beginning was our 1 hour+ scenic drive error. I was so caught up in watching the scenery go by that we didn’t recognize we were heading the wrong way until it was too late to turn back…so continued on and up into the Kootenai National Forest. Oh well, some mornings we’re just more scattered than others.

Candian border crossing was fast and simple

BC, Canada & Highway 95 / 93 Scenery

After crossing into BC, Canada it was just a breathtaking drive up towards Radium Hot Springs area to find a campsite. We enjoyed the variety of scenes from Green fields, rivers, mountains to even hoodoos!

Free Canadian forest campsite near Radium Hot springs

We added another 40 minutes plus to this long day locating a wilderness recreation area campsite. There are a handful of small lakes all with campsites via Foresters Landing Road and north west of Radium Hot Springs, BC. We just headed for the first one Dogleg Lake. (Note: google maps calls this Dogsleg, not Dogleg lake as noted on our visitor center map). I’d call it a pond more than a lake. Along the way there are side logging roads and spots you could legally pull into if a 30 minute drive isn’t viable. The last portion of road contained large water filled potholes making for slow going but the main road was an easy gravel, well maintained road. No service once we got off HWY 95/93.

Morning was cool and brisk but we made an early departure and left our little lake.

HWY 93 West Drive through Kootenay National Forest

Our route took us West on HWY 93 and through the Kootenay National Park. This park is on the western border of Banff and has it own unique characteristics. To enter you do hit the park toll booth and need to make a determination of a daily pass or the annual.

Soon we land in Banff National Park. It was 2+ hour drive from camp to cross into the park. With the early wheels up time, we have the afternoon to locate a home base and decide what’s on the agenda for the next few days.