Jasper is Just Amazing

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! 

Banff National Park Oh Boy!

We love the National Parks in the United States. However, our first visit to a Canadian National Park has blown us away!  Banff National Park in Alberta is truly spectacular, and our four days here only scratched the surface. 

We arrived to the Tunnel Mountain II Campground in Banff National Park in a snowstorm and wondered if we’d see any of the beautiful peaks that define the area. But, low hanging clouds and cold air didn’t put a damper on the excitement. 

But within hours, the blue sky began to show through and it was on!!  

Our first hike was from our campground to the hoodoos overlook. Sweeping views of the snow drenched mountains with the Bow River below indicated something special. 

With our traveling companions, Russ and Susan Shoemaker, we braved the cold, and a little snow, to finish the first of several beautiful hikes. 

We headed to Lake Louise on our first full day and were greeted with more snow and low-hanging clouds.

The view was not what we had hoped for but Susan’s photoshop skills allowed us to see what it might have been like had the clouds lifted and the ice on the lake had melted. 

On our third day here we were blessed with spectacular blue skies and a bit warmer weather (if 50 is considered warm). We set out to take on the popular, 1 1/2 mile Johnston Canyon hike.

Though much of the trail was ice-packed which made for slow-going, we made it to the upper falls with ease. The advantage of being here early in the season is smaller crowds. We were happy to have parts of the trail to ourselves which made it even more special. 

Evenings are special too. We’ve been taking turns making dinner and have enjoyed several meals cooked in the Park’s cooking pavilions, around a wood-burning stove. Spending time with Russ and Susan is always fun, as we love to hear about their world travels.

We’ve known them since Susan and I worked together at the City of Phoenix in the early 1990s and being together is always so easy. 

On our final day in Banff we tackled the Tunnel Mountain Summit trail which provided 360-degree, sweeping views of the town of Banff and surrounding area. We could have sat up there and soaked in the views all day. 

We are sad to leave this beautiful area, with it’s many animals, sweeping views, and wonderful people, but we know there’s more spectacularness ahead!

Heading North

Our summer adventures have begun, and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you. After about a month at home in Prescott we are ready to roll again.

Soon we’ll be crossing the Canadian border with our dear friends Russ and Susan Shoemaker. Together we’ll set out to see Banff and Jasper National Parks in the Canadian Rockies before hitting the Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) Highway. We’ve been planning this trip for over two years. We were booked and ready to go when the pandemic hit in 2020. Now that the Canadian border is open for recreational travel, we’re finally on our way. We hope you’ll follow along!

On our way north we used our Harvest Hosts membership to spend the night at two fun locations. First we stopped at Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin, UT. At the base of the Wasatch, it’s a beautiful location, even in the rain. 

Next we stopped in Pocatello, ID at the Museum of Clean. It was a clean, level place to park for the night and we enjoyed the four-level museum that’s chock full of everything related to being clean.

One floor is filled with vacuum cleaners that date all the way back to the 1800s. We also enjoyed the nearby Pontneuf Brewery, which was within walking distance of the museum. 

We met up with the Shoemakers in Butte and spent two nights in the old mining town. Our big activity was a visit and tour of the World Museum of Mining.

Our underground tour of the Orphan Girl Mine helped us understand the process of mining over the years and how it impacted, and continues, to impact the Butte area. 

The city of Butte really reflects its history in the landscape. We drove around a bit and took in the sights.

Soon we’ll begin our trek across three Canadian Provinces and through some of the most remote territory we’ve ever explored. Stay tuned…it’s going to be good!