Interstate Road Trips

Canadian Rockies Trip - Day 4 (Wednesday, September 27, 2006)
- Icefields Parkway -

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This day's route maps: Alberta

Peyto Lake
View of Peyto Lake from the lookout. (Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada)

We woke up before dawn so that we could take full advantage of the daylight as we took the long drive up to Jasper. The sun had risen by the time we hit the Trans-Canada. From the road, we saw the dramatic Castle Mountain seemingly floating above a low cloud, but did feel it prudent to stop on the highway. After getting fuel at Lake Louise, we left the Trans-Canada and entered the Icefield Parkway, passing an unstaffed entrance gate.

We first stopped at the turnout for Crowfoot Glacier, but we could not spot more than a tiny bit of the glacier under the fog, so we continued north. After a quick look at Bow Lake, we hit Bow Summit and parked. From there, a short trail led up to a wonderful view of Peyto Lake, which had a thin layer of fog floating above it. Above that fog circled an impressive set of mountains, with Peyto Glacier on one end.

People on Glacier
Groups of people walking on Athabasca Glacier. (Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada)

The drive north kept on giving us great scenery and we passed the interesting Snowbird Glacier, shaped like a frozen waterfall. At Mistaya Canyon, we stopped for another short walk. This one led us downhill to a bridge, where we could peer down through the narrow gorge created by the Mistaya River. At our next quick stop, we saw the Weeping Wall with its thin streams of water going over a cliff. We found a lovely spot of the North Saskatchewan River here too.

The road climbed to a good view of the road we had just taken and, just around the corner, we found Bridal Veil Falls. Going over Sunwapta Pass meant we had entered Jasper National Park. In a short time, we reached the Icefield Centre. After eating lunch at the car, we headed there only to find the power had gone out. Fortunately, the ticket window stayed open, using hand-held calculators and making credit card carbon copies.

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls and Mount Fryatt. (Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada)

We bought tickets and waited for the one of the next buses to leave for the Athabasca Glacier. The bus took us across the parkway and up a dirt road by the glacier. They had quite an efficient, busy operation with multiple buses and ice explorers coming and going. We transferred to a six-wheel drive ice explorer with windows above and around us and descended to the glacier on a defined road. I could spot hikers on the glacier a little ways away.

The ice explorer stopped in an area defined by blue cones. We were not to wander past them lest we fall into a hidden crevasse. On the edge of the safe area ran a stream of melt water that the guide encouraged us to try, so we did. Arlene filled her water bottle with that water. I had not brought mine. After taking plenty of pictures, we boarded the ice explorer to go back to the bus, which then took us back to the Icefield Centre.

Cavell Pond
Cavell Pond and Cavell Glacier. (Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada)

The power outage prevented us from seeing the gallery inside, we took off north to continue our scenic drive, next stopped at lovely Tangle Falls. A bit of a drive later, we reached Sunwapta Falls, where we found a bridge to enjoy the waterfall and its canyon. The stop for Athabasca Falls was just a little away from the parkway on highway 93. I found the waterfall pretty decent, but liked the surrounding scenery even more. A trail of steps let us easily walk through an old channel of the Athabasca River.

At the north end of the parkway, we took the spur Edith Cavell Road until it ended at the Path of the Glacier loop trail. On that short loop, we had a great view of Angel Glacier and its waterfall below it. I found Cavell Pond and Glacier the most interesting. The glacier edge had ice caves and the pond had icebergs. As I walked away, I heard the glacier calving into the pond with a big splash.

Lenticular Cloud
One of the lenticular clouds above Jasper. (Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada)

Right before reaching the townsite of Jasper, we saw a large herd of elk feeding on the road side. Unfortunely, the male with impressive antlers headed into the woods, so we did not get a close look at him. We also saw some beautiful lenticular clouds in the sky. In town, we looked for a place to eat along Connaught Drive and decided just to go for pizza at North Face Pizza. We also had a side order of poutine with cheese curds.

At dusk, we reached Patricia Lake Lodge, just north of the townsite, where we checked in the deluxe two bedroom suite we reserved. We saw people out and about, enjoying the pleasant evening. I went to the lake dock then returned with Arlene and Margaret for a walk around. Back at the suite, we then went to sleep a bit early, though I wrote a couple postcards before retiring.


This day's route maps: Alberta

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Document last modified January 06, 2009.
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