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Monday, April 9, 2018

Museums, Craft Beer, and Wolfdogs - Last day in Canada

View from the observation area at Cave and Basin National Historic Site (closed Monday Tuesday)

It was a whirlwind week in Banff National Park.  From three days of skiing, scenic drives, snowshoeing, ice walks, to dogsledding, we had seen a lot of different angles of this beautiful area in a short window of time.  Our last day of Banff was pretty open, stopping to see some of the museums and in Banff before making our way back towards Calgary where we would hop on a plane and head back for the states and temperatures above zero degrees.  We were up early, packing up the rental car with our ski gear and luggage with plans to stop at the Whyte Museum in downtown Banff and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, famed to be where Canada's National Park system began.  Due to some lack of planning on my part, we pulled into the Historic Site to discover the visitor's center and cave was closed on Monday and Tuesdays.  We enjoyed the view and stretched out legs before jumping in the car to head to the Whyte Museum.  

Whyte Museum 

Our first real stop after the major fail at Cave and Basin was the Whyte Museum in downtown Banff, a museum dedicated to the history and preservation of the cultural heritage of the Rocky Mountains of Canada.  This was the perfect indoor activity to escape the breath-froze-my-hair cold and to learn a bit about the area.  You can see the bulk of the museum in an hour or so, learning about the history of the area, the cultural significance, and fun facts about Banff National Park.  We had a free pass to the museum included in our "Ski Big 3" passbook and were excited to spend some time learning more about this park we came to love.  The exhibits varied from bear safety to the foundation, early culture, and the location/access of the park.  If you want to escape the cold and learn about the park and the cultural history of the area, I highly recommend this museum 

Whyte Museum 

Need to Know 
Address: 111 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1A3, Canada
Hours: Open Daily, 10am to 5pm 
Phone: +1 403-762-2291
Admission: $10 Adults, $9 Seniors, $5 Students and Locals, Children under 12 – FREE.  Pass included in your Ski Big 3 purchase of 3 days or more. 
Parking:  Free lot for museum visitors

Grizzly Paw Pub and Brewing Company

Leaving the Whyte Museum, we grabbed our bags and started making the slow crawl to Calgary where we would spend the night before flying over to Toronto and eventually, Connecticut.  We were sad to leave Banff behind in the rearview mirror but excited to check out the neighboring historic coal mining turned touristy town of Canmore.  In Canmore we walked around the main areas for a bit before working up an appetite for a flight of craft beer and a burger at the Grizzly Paw Pub and Brewing Company.  Their selection of craft beer and delicious burgers means there is likely to be a (long) line on the weekends.  We swept in to take two opening seats at the bar and enjoyed a flight of beer and two of their fantastic burgers.    If you have the extra time, stop by between 11 and 5 to see the brewery and take a tour.  

Need to Know 

Address: 622 8 St, Canmore, AB T1W 2B5, Canada
Hours: 11am - 11pm Sun-Thur, 11am - midnight Fri-Sat

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

While sitting at the bar, enjoying our lunch and a cold beer, we talked with the bartender for a bit about "things to do" on our route from Banff to Calgary.  If I am being honest, Calgary did not seem like the most exciting stop in Canada and I heard some basic recommendations of zoo and garden.  What did grab my attention was the mention of wolfdogs.  I had put it on my maybe list, or the "if we have time" list and didn't think much about it.  But with some extra time and a recommendation, we continued our drive to Calgary with a detour at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. I knew nothing about wolves, (or wolfdogs) and figured when in Canada... learn about wolfdogs. 

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary offers a variety of tours to the public at different price points.  While initially, the price seems steep, you have to remember the main purpose and goals behind this educate the public on wolfdogs and raise awareness regarding wolf conservation.  And of course, all proceeds from the tours directly fund the sanctuary and its continued rescue efforts.  Due to budget and time constraints, we opted for the basic self-guided tour of the sanctuary 

For $24 a person, you do not need a reservation and can go on a self-guided walk through some of the exhibits where you can read about some of the resident wolfdogs at the sanctuary.  We spent about an hour wandering through the sanctuary, reading about the wolf dogs and learning of their history and how they came to the sanctuary.  The other tours, at a higher price point, allow a better glimpse of the wolfdogs and a more interactive experience.  *Note* there is a dress code for the intro and interactive tour. 

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

The sanctuary opened in June of 2011 and has been educating visitors ever since. Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary has 15 permanent wolfdogs, 7 ambassador wolfdogs, and any number of wolfdogs available for adoption.  The sanctuary covers 160 acres of land and the wolfdogs are contained in fenced areas (1 - 2 acres) throughout the property. 

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Dogs are ranked on a level of "wolf content" high being a high content of wolf, low being a low content of wolf (more dog).  I was surprised to see how many of these wolfdogs were owner surrenders.  Several were even rescued from neglectful home and hoarding/seizure operations.  Please leave the wolves to the wild and the dogs to the couches, folks.  However they got here, it is lovely to know these unique animals have a place to call home at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.  Believe it or not, there is also a "goat" section at the sanctuary (you read that right) as Yamnuska works to save as many goats from slaughter as possible.  Goats and wolfdogs, there is fun and learning to be had at Yamnuska.  

Need to Know 
Hours: Thursday – Monday, 10am – 5pm
Cost:  $25 to $50+ depending on the tour 

Address/Directions: Range Road 53 on Highway 1A, 60 mins from Banff (10 west of Cochrane).

It was a fun last day in Canada filled with museums, burgers, beer and wolfdogs.  After a week of a strict schedule, it was nice to be on the no-plan plan, seeing where the day took us.  I highly recommend a stop at the Whyte Museum and lunch at Grizzly Paw.  If you are interested in wolfdogs and conservation and don't mind spending a little more for a good cause, Yamnuska is a great stop along the way as well.  

Happy Wandering, 

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