From Banff we drove the Icefields Parkway through the Columbia Icefields, past the Athabasca Glacier, and spectacular snow-covered mountains. If you don’t like pictures of mountains, streams, and wildlife, you can probably skip this blog. It’s overload up here and we just loved it!
Our home in Jasper was the newly renovated Whistler Campground in Jasper National Park. While many of the trees have been removed to combat bark beetles, the 360-degree mountain views made up for it. Frequent visits from local elk made it even more beautiful.
Upon our arrival in Jasper we hit up the local laundromat/coffee shop, SnoDome Coffee , one of the best we’ve ever seen. Susan and I followed laundry up with shopping, so Jasper left a positive impression from the beginning.
Jasper is surrounded by world-class hiking trails, and we set out to explore a few of them. In truth we could stay here for a year and never see it all. Maligne Canyon, however, was a good choice to get us started.
The roughly three mile hike skirts the canyon rim, traveling over five bridges along the way. The narrow canyon has been carved by millions of years of rushing water which creates smooth rock and round potholes that hold spinning whirlpools of water.
Our time in Jasper has been punctuated by abundant wildlife, which is exactly what we were hoping for. We found a large herd of mountain sheep along the side of the road, numerous deer and elk, fox, beaver, and the holy grail: bears!
Steve encountered this mama Grizzly bear and baby while out on a run one morning.
We also came across this mama Black bear and her two cubs eating on the side of the highway. Just incredible!
On a different day we tackled another popular hike, The Valley of Five Lakes. In about three miles we circled five distinctly different lakes, each a different color.
Besides the great exercise, we enjoyed the sunshine and relatively crowd-free trails. Shoulder season is definitely the time to be here!
We also stopped to check out Athabasca Falls, a stop along Icefields Parkway that has been a stop for travelers for centuries. It’s now a well developed site that allows you to get up close to the falls.
We continue to enjoy traveling with the Shoemakers. Our nightly happy hours and dinners are a highlight of each day, a time for us to share our day’s adventures and plan the next.
We are now heading north to the start of the famed Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) highway. The historic road will usher us to the 49th state and we are looking forward to the journey!