Banff to Spray Lakes

Great Divide

After sleeping in and taking care of a couple things in town, we finally set off for what we came to do: to ride our bikes down Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The route stretches from Banff to Antelope Wells, NM, at the border of Mexico. That’s a long way. If we had the time off, we may have planned to ride the whole route, but we chose to take two weeks to ride from Banff to Whitefish, MT, with a side trip to Glacier National Park thrown in to give our saddle-weary bums a break.

Our destination Spray Lakes Campground was a measly 20 miles away, so we were in no rush to get there. When we rolled up to the trailhead we were greeted by a father and daughter duo who were also planning to ride to Whitefish. We wished each other a fun trip and then Carrie and I set forth.


As we started our trip both of us let out a big sigh. It’s quite stressful preparing for a trip like this. Now that we were finally riding, all of our worries disappeared. Aside from getting lost, mauled by a bear, or trampled by a moose, all we had to do was ride. It’s a great feeling to have practically nothing to worry about. At home we have our jobs, our house, our responsibilities. On the trail we have wonderful freedom.

The ride from Banff started with a wide forest road that paralleled Spray River. Once we left the national park the road turned into more of a trail. It was a bit rougher but still an easy ride. The trail eventually connected with an unpaved road used by, shudder, motor vehicles, which kicked up clouds of dust as they zipped by us on their way to our campground and beyond.

We arrived at our lakeside camp site with tons of daylight. Both of us were eager to hop in the lake to remove our layer of grime, so before making camp we bee-lined to the lake. As I entered the lake I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be going for a dip after all. Glacier melt water is actually really cold. I couldn’t summon the courage to jump in so settled for a quick rinse instead.

After an early dinner, we retired to the tent. Without bug spray, Carrie was getting eaten by the mosquitos, and our tent was our only refuge. I crashed practically right away while Carrie stayed up and read. Day two of our trip and the first day of riding was a blast.