Sunday, June 02, 2013

Banff and Jasper National Parks, Icefields Highway

-->This post is for Saturday, June 1, 2013. We had no internet connection last night, so it is posted late.
 We spent Friday night in Canmore, Alberta, just a few miles from Banff. We had decided to try and make it this far so that on Saturday, the only day in the forecast that called for sunshine, we could drive the road through Banff National Park and the Icefields Highway through Jasper National Park. While it did rain on us all evening at the camp, we did awake to beautiful, glorious sunshine.
 This little guy was getting his breakfast while I was out taking pictures!
Tab and Deanna wanted to sleep in a bit, so we headed into town to check out the shops. The towns of Canmore and Banff look like small European alpine villages. They are beautiful and full of shops that want your money. LOL We walked around a bit and ran into Tab and Deanna. Hah! We decided to start our day of driving into the Banff and Jasper National Parks, so off we went. Our destination for the day was the Columbia Icefields.

The drive was spectacular. We got off the Trans-Canadian Highway and drove the Bow Trail Parkway, which is the route through the mountains that is two-lane and much slower than the highway. But that is where we hoped to see animals and other scenic events. We were not disappointed.

The first wildlife came into view not long after . . . in the form of deer. I know, we see a lot of deer, but we never tire of seeing them in the wild. A short time later, we saw several cars pulled over to the side of the road and a black bear was grazing by the side of the road. It may look like I'm close to him, but I used my optical/digital zoom on my new camera and I am not close at all.

Our next stop was Lake Louise to see the chateau and we arrived about lunch time. We parked and took a short hike down to the lake. The waters are incredibly clear and a green/blue in color. The chateau/hotel is beautiful, but it is more impressive in the pictures you see on line that are taken from the air. But it is still lovely. There are two glaciers visible on the far side of the lake. Upper Victoria glacier and Lower Victoria glacier.


Back on the road we saw incredible mountain scenery as the road goes between the peaks. We stopped to view some waterfalls and Tab saw what he thought were mountain goats on the far peaks. It is hard to say how far away they were because they were across the valley and up the mountain. But they were mountain goats. So I got some pix. I was wishing they were closer. . . and soon my wish was granted with two big mountain goats grazing by the side of the road.


On we drove till we arrived at the Columbia Icefields Interpretive Center. This was to be our boondocking spot for the night. But there is a reason the biggest glacier around is here and that is because it was cold . . . and windy. As soon as we stepped out, we grabbed our winter gear for the walk up  to the center. I snapped a couple pix and you can see the bus/tractor they take out onto the glacier. We didn't take the tour because we now decided we wanted to drive further as we were sure we would not have been able to stay warm enough up in the mountains with wind blowing cold air at us from the glacier.

So on we went. We stopped at Whistler's camp near Jasper for the night. It is in the national park and they have full hookups, but not at the time we checked in, about 7:30 p.m. It had been a long day of driving, full of wonderful memories, and we were too tired to drive on, so we took a couple no hookup sites for the night. It wasn't as cold there as on the mountain so we got along fine. Our reward was seeing an elk momma and her yearling walking through our camp. How cool is that?

Till next time. . . 


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