Layla and I were lucky enough to get to do another FAM tour with Discover Banff Tours in mid December. This time it was Grotto Canyon.
Grotto Canyon is located just outside Canmore in Exshaw, an area made up of a number of plants and a small hamlet. The group was made up of around 25 of us and 2 guides, one of which also took us on the snowshoe tour of the Paint Pots.
We put on our snow cleats and walked through a stunted pine forest before coming to a viewpoint at the edge of the forest overlooking The Bow Valley. On entering the canyon the path changed from packed snow to ice and in places the ice wasn’t very thick. People’s feet were disappearing through the ice all over the place but thankfully the creek we were walking on was only 10cm or so deep.
Once deeper inside the canyon and more sheltered from the sun the creek became hard with layers of ice and footing was much stabler. The canyon walls slowly became higher as we progressed and soon the walls rose high above us and trees clung onto the sides, the snow hanging off their branches.At one point we were shown ancient pictographs on the canyon walls which were likely created by Hopi visitors from the Arizona region. The ochre used to paint the designs was most likely collected from the Paint Pots.We stopped for lunch in a lovely area containing frozen waterfalls people were climbing. We ate Maple cookies, had hot Chocolates and watched the folks climbing, the squirrels foraging for food and took lots of photos. What a lovely spot for a break.After our break we headed back through the canyon just as the sun came out and lit up the ice and the snow covered sides. It was just beautiful.
Who: DiscoverBanff Tours
Where: Grotto Canyon, Banff National Park
What: Hotel Pick up & Drop off, Ice cleats & hiking poles, refreshments
Difficulty: 4.2km, 100m elevation gain
Duration: 4 hours
Price: $74 Adult / $42 Child