Every weekend thousands of people take to the mountains outside of Calgary to take in all that Mother Nature has to offer. After all, the Canadian Rockies are arguably one of the most beautiful destinations in Canada, maybe the world.

We all go there for different reasons, whether it is to go hiking, kayaking, biking or maybe just for a nice dinner at the always affordable Fairmont properties. However, sometimes I go for a different reason, maybe one that is a little mean spirited but after a frustrating week of dealing with Calgary drivers and crappy customer service there is nothing better than sitting back with a cold beer and doing a little people watching. Tourist style.

For me the best place to do some great people watching is none other than Johnson’s Canyon. If you’ve never been Johnson’s Canyon it is a paved pathway that runs along a river. Along the “hike” you’ll encounter several different waterfalls and some breathtaking views of the mountains. Of course, if you are like me, you’ll also see some great fanny packs, women in dresses with running shoes and my personal favorite: kids who are wearing sweatpants that their parents should have taken away from them two growth spurts ago.

Johnson’s canyon has to be one of the most tourist friendly (ie: easiest) attractions in the Banff/Lake Louise area. That is why I always find it fascinating to see the varying degrees of readiness that people get for what I can only assume they think is a treacherous journey.

This past weekend while enjoying the view with my cousins, we noticed everything from men in suits to people who must have decided to start the long ascent to Everest at the bottom of Johnson’s Canyon. Or at least that is how it looked. There were also the women who wearing their Sunday best right next to the family of 68 that were each lugging a different piece of what would amass to the world’s biggest BBQ. Ever.

My question is this: Are people coming to the Canyon because they assume that it is very easy or very hard? I’d like to think that somewhere hundreds of frustrated Parks Canada workers meet every week and decide how they are going to mess with tourists. Some of them tell those from the States that the Canyon is similar to Central Park in NYC, while others tell the more international tourists the only the bravest/stupidest venture into the Canyon, pavement or not.

So if you find you bike tires always run out of air and you have yet been able to brave the Banff Gondola may I suggest Johnson’s Canyon. If anything it’s always good for a laugh.

Mike Morrison


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