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Our last quick hike before lunch at the river crossing...This is a fairly quick and easy hike (little more than a quarter mile) on a fairly wide and easy path. At the end, you are treated to a nice bridge over a canyon cut deep in the rock by the rushing river. One of those nice spots that isn't overly crowded, and still has something neat to see. You can continue on much longer trails that start where the canyon is.
One of the few hikes we absolutely had to ourselves - this is a pretty short (about a quarter mile?) hike down a fairly wide path once you do the initial scramble from the parking lot. The trail becomes very primitive at the end (and quite muddy.) You really can't get too close to the water as a result. Hey, maybe I know why we had this to ourselves...
But in the end, it's another pristine lake setting with a great mountain backdrop. Completely worth the few minutes it took to check it out.
Bridal Veil Falls
This may be the most amusing part of the whole Icefields Parkway. Right before you get to Jasper, the road does a little hook. In this vicinity is Bridal Veil Falls. The problem I had is there are several turnouts in the area, and they all seem to look at some set of falls! Eventually, the last turnout was the largest, and I think this is the true waterfall. You see them from a distance, so you don't get the powerful roar you hear at some of the other places. Note also, the turnout here has a bit of a blind spot, so be careful entering and leaving the parking lot!
Of the many turnouts you can visit along the Parkway, this one has one of the more unique waterfalls - it's fairly tall, but rather than gushing water, it simply runs down the side of the rock (as if the mountain were weeping). When heading to Jasper, this is difficult to see from the car, and the viewpoint comes up and disappears quickly, so check your mileage to make sure you don't blow by and have to double back. There is also some fairly easy access to the river here, and some really nice scenery to take in along side of it.
Heading north along the Icefields Parkway, this is one of the first stops available. There was one other person here when we stopped, it was incredibly peaceful. There's a very small trail along the lake parallel to the parking lot - I don't think there was a marked trail that went along the lake. If you are there in the morning (as we were fortunate to be, the lighting is spectacular - such a calm, quiet, clear lake with perfect reflections. There isn't much more to do than sit there and admire the beauty of this lake...but that is really all you need.
I am not sure the Columbia Icefields are really a must see item . They are a small part of a huge glacier just over the ridge . But people come from all over the world to stand on the ice .
You need a sunny day for this one.
To get onto the ice you have to take a bus and then a large off terrain vehicle.
Parker Ridge Trail
The expansive views of a vast, unspoiled stretch of wild mountains and glaciers from the alpine tundra of Parker Ridge is usually reserved for the places that require days of backpacking to reach; yet the hike up and down Parker Ridge is a short 5 km round trip with about 250 m ascent, making it a doable hike for anyone in decent physical shape. That means this is quite a popular trail: on a nice summer day, you'll undoubtedly be sharing the trail with tens of other hiking groups. Also, check to see whether or not this trail is open before you go: early in the season, before the snow melts, the trail is closed to protect the fragile tundra. Also, don't cut switchbacks! Doing so badly damages the landscape.
From the parkway, the trail quickly begins ascending through forests and meadows, which give way to just meadows and tundra after about a kilometer of switchbacking uphill. During the climb, there are good views of Mt. Athabasca and the Nigel Pass area. The trail continues to switchback until it reaches a ridgetop, when huge views of the Saskatchewan Glacier flowing from the Columbia Icefield suddenly appear to the west. If you continue following the main trail, the views of the glacier get progressively better; eventually, a 180-view of the peaks along the Saskatchewan River valley and the glacier is visible.
- Hiking and Walking
Icefields Parkway and Peyto Lake
The Icefield Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper is a must drive. You need a sunny day . You really only have to drive the lake Louise to Columbia Ice Fields segment ( this is a personal opinion ). Bring a picnic lunch .
This picture is Peyto Lake. As I grew up in Calgary and spent a lot of time in the National Parks this is how I feel all lakes should look like .
Tip for Peyto Lake:
There are two parking lots .
The low one is for cars and you have to climb to get to this lookout.
The upper parking lot is for buses and RVS . Drive to the upper parking lot .
- National/State Park
Drive the Icefeilds Parkway
Simply driving the Icefeild parkway is a treat in itself let alone the spectacular places that it will bring you to. This photo is typical scenery along the parkway. quite possibly one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
One of the Premier attractions in the park is the colombia Icefield. You take a bus out onto the icefield where guides have roped of a safe section of the icefield for tourists to walk about on. This is neccessay as the icefield is full of crack, crevices and fissures waiting to swallow up unsuspecting people. To be quite honest, i wasn't personally impressed with the icefields as snow and ice is nothing new and exciting to a Canadian.
Along Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) there is the very popular roadside pull-out for Parker Ridge. You can relax for a bit and have a washroom break (however, you will need to pinch your nose hard -- did I mention that this stop is very popular?) Or, you can stretch your legs and lungs for a couple of hours and hike to the viewpoint over the North Saskatchewan Glacier.
The hike is uphill all the way and a bit of a lung buster, but take it slow and be patient; you will be awarded with stunning views along the trail. Don't forget water, a jacket, hat and gloves; the wind can get suprisingly very cold at the top. Plus make sure you bring your camera (like a dough head I left mine in the car). . You do not need hiking boots, the trail is doable in trainers/sneakers.
Apparantly one of the best drives in the world....amazing views, great things to see along the way, Peyto Lake, Athabasca Falls, you name it!
A MUST if you are in the Rockies. Take your time and make sure you see everything. There are alot of guides you can pick up which point out every single point of interest which really helped. Pick one up in Lake Louise at the Visitor Centre.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
For a little sightseeing...
My advice is: go in the summer. The scenery is still nice to see in spring (I was there at the beginning of May) but it's certainly more beautiful without snow.
Make a stop at the Columbia Icefield Centre about halfway, in Jasper. It's free and educative. It isn't too big a museum so you won't waste too much time and you will learn interesting stuff about what you've been seeing on your way there. There's also a gift shop in the Centre.
- Museum Visits
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Take your time, and take the turn outs .......
So much of what I saw in the parks are sights that I don't even know the names of!! I took almost every turn out there was ... just to see what I could see .. and so much of what you can see from the roadside is simply fabulous!!!!
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
Icefields Parkway is by far the most stunning drive you will ever take in your life!
Icefields Parkway, also officially known as Highway 93 runs from Lake Lousie, through the Rockies to Jasper - and every inch of it is breath taking.
It is a long drive that will easily take 4-5 hours (without stopping). So plan in lots of time if you are intending to drive along it. We decided to drive from along the Parkway from Banff to Jasper, stay the night in Jasper, then return back to Banff the next day.
We left on the Monday around 10am. We drove up through the Bow valley Parkway then went onto the Icefields Parkway - stopping at Bow Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto Lake, Athabasca Glacier and a few other smaller places - and arrived in Jasper around 6pm ...... a long day!
There is so much to see on the Icefields Parkway from lakes and mountains to rivers and wildlife, there is no way you can see it all in one day. In fact, you probably could spend forwever going up and down it!
There are several ways to travel it. We chose to hire a car, but we passed hikers, cyclists, motorbikes and coaches - so there really is nothing stopping you.
The Icefields Parkway - Highway 97 is stunning and you would be a silly person not to visit it if in the area.
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- National/State Park
- Adventure Travel
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