spectacular views of the US Northern States
and Western Canada are a must-see for all
enthusiastic adventure travelers. The route
itself makes the whole thing so worthwhile
- this trip definitely over-delivers on
all things relating to nature and travel!
and ending our tour at Calgary,
the gateway to the Canadian
Rocky Mountains, we allowed 8 days to
explore the region. Our route took us along
fantastic scenic highways, past glaciers
and rocky mountain waterfalls. We caught
glimpses of Bighorn sheep, mountain goats,
black bear, elk, moose and bald eagles,
which to us were the most spectacular of
all. This almost beats my African
safari. Closer to home, too.
places of interest on this trip are:
- our starting point.
in the foothills of Canadian Rockies, Calgary
is a great place to start and end your trip,
with plenty to do in the city and surroundings.
Calgary is an attractive and dynamic city
situated on the banks of the Bow River and
close to Alberta's majestic Rocky Mountains.
The Calgary Stampede is undoubtedly Calgary's
best-known tourist attraction. Launched
in 1912, this event, featuring a large parade
and world-class rodeo, draws more than a
million people each year.
The host city of the 1988 Winter Olympic
Games takes pride in its sporting legacy.
Canada Olympic Park is a multipurpose athletic
facility designed for skiing, snowboarding,
bobsleigh and luge during the winter and
mountain biking during the summer. The Pengrowth
Saddledome is the home of the NHL's Calgary
Flames, as well as being the venue for countless
events and concerts throughout the year.
Other Calgary attractions, including the
Glenbow Museum, Calgary Tower and Eau Claire
Market are great places to visit year-round.
depart from Calgary, gateway to the Canadian
Rockies, continuing our journey to the charming
city of Banff, situated along the banks
of the Bow River. This world-famous resort
is the perfect base for outdoor adventures
in the Rockies.
From Banff, take Highway 1A, a scenic route
to Lake Louise. This 51 km (30.6 mi) route
is a scenic alternative to the TransCanada
Highway between Banff and Lake Louise. You
can drive straight through on Highway 1
to Lake Louise, or turn off to the right
shortly after Banff and drive the more winding,
forested Bow Valley Parkway, which will
take you past Johnston Canyon, one of Banff
Park's most visited attractions.
The drive takes you through Lake Louise
townsite, then through to the fork where
the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) branches
off toward Jasper. There are peaceful picnic
areas along the way and also trails for
short hikes. At Johnston Canyon, a self-guided
tour takes you along Johnston Creek to two
impressive waterfalls. It's a 5.6 km (3.5
mi) hike to the Ink Pots, which has six
cool springs bubbling out of the ground.
Continuing North to Jasper, we drove through
the wide valleys of the North Saskatchewan,
Sunwapta and Athabasca Rivers, past the
Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefields,
gaping at the breathtaking vistas.
defying description, highway 93 is internationally
known as one of the most magnificent mountain
drives to be found anywhere in the world.
Both serene and grippingly beautiful, it
is mountain grandeur at its best and closest.
moon rising over Moose Lake, Jasper
Photo: Duane Coulan
must see on this route is the Columbia Icefield.
This massive field of ancient ice covers
325 sq km (125 sq mi) and reaches depths
estimated at 365 m (1299 ft). The Columbia
Icefield is composed of a massive plateau
of ice, and 6 major glaciers (and numerous
smaller ones). Straddling the Continental
Divide, the icefield feeds three of the
continents major river systems: the Columbia,
Mackenzie and Saskatchewan. Meltwaters from
the icefield flow to three different oceans
(the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic). Called
a hydrological apex, it is one of only two
in the world that feeds three oceans. Markers
at the icefield indicate the rate at which
the toe of the Athabasca Glacier has receded
this century. For a charge, tours of the
glacier are given on custom designed Brewster
Ice Explorer from the spring and fall. Ice-walk
tours are also available April 10th until
October 20th. We spent a couple of days
in Jasper, a fairytale mountain retreat
boasting all the modern amenities of a city
surrounded by scenery that is simply breathtaking.
took the time to hike through Maligne Canyon
in Jasper National Park - an absolute must.
We started our hike at the Maligne Canyon
Tea House, and followed the canyon downstream.
You can cross as many bridges along the
trail as you fell you are up to - each one
offers a different experience. When standing
on the second bridge, looking down can be
an experience in itself!
went only up to the third bridge, but we
were told that beyond the fourth bridge
there is a spectacular, downhill hike to
the fifth bridge. Sometimes right down to
water level, at others, far above the Maligne
River, this easy hike takes about twenty
to thirty minutes. We were unable to continue
because going beyond the third or fourth
bridge requires a pickup, which we were
unable to arrange. Nevertheless, it was
a wonderful walk.
Jasper also offers many additional sporting
and recreational activities such as kayaking,
fishing, golfing, trail riding and more.
Jasper, we headed east towards Edmonton,
stopping at the communities of Hinton and
Edson - two towns that we found are ideal
bases from which to explore nearby parks,
lakes, canyons, sand dunes and caves.
Stony Plain, the Multicultural Heritage
Centre highlights the story of English,
French, and German-speaking Central European
immigrants who settled the area.
stayed a couple of days at Edmonton,
touring the sights of the provincial capital.
Known as "Festival City", Edmonton
hosts actors, folk and jazz musicians, ethnic
dancers and, of course, all the color and
fun of the famous Klondike Days, in a series
of summer celebrations. If you enjoy shopping
- it is also the site of West Edmonton Mall,
the world's largest enclosed shopping center
featuring more than 800 shops and services,
a unique theme hotel, Galaxyland Amusement
Park and the World Waterpark, among other
highway south from Edmonton to Calgary follows
an old wagon trail dotted with historic
sights and interesting attractions. Wetaskiwin
is the site of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.
Here you can view one of North America's
largest collections of antique and classic
cars, trucks, tractors, steam engines, fire
engines and planes as well as Canada's Aviation
Hall of Fame. Just 40 km (25 mi) east of
Wetaskiwin is Camrose, famous for its Big
Valley Country Music Jamboree. Red Deer
is almost halfway between Calgary and Edmonton
and has an elaborate parks system that connects
many outdoor facilities.
Distance: 1,080 km/675 mi
Day 1/2 - Calgary
Day 3 - Calgary to Banff - 129 km/81
Day 4/5 - Banff to Jasper - 295 km/186
Day 6 - Jasper to Edmonton - 362
Day 7/8 - Edmonton to Calgary - 294