Today we leave Banff and go to Jasper, there is only one road of 230 km between Banff and Jasper, the ‘Icefields Parkway’. The locals call this the most beautiful road in the world…we do not know if this is true but it comes very close! The construction of this road, which used to be a one-lane gravel road, was started in 1931 and opened in 1940 as “B-J” (Banff-Jasper). Later the road was broadened and asphalted and got its present name. One hint: if you go to Canada try to plan for this road and if possible a few times…
Around 8.40am, after our breakfast at the hotel, we leave Banff for the last time and reach, just passed Lake Louise, the exit for Jasper. At the visitor centre next to the road you can get a “Points of Interest map” with all the viewpoints, hikes, picnic areas on this road. It even gives you the distance from one place to the other so you do not miss anything. This seems to be a handy map. We drive through the Canadian Rocky Mountains and see lots of beautiful mountains. The entire drive is next to a river going from the Bow River in Banff to Mistaya River that converges with the North Saskatchewa River that shifts to the Sunwapta River, the Athabasca River up to Jasper and further. On our way we stop at Bow Lake which is almost entirely frozen. A bit further we reach a parking lot and make a short hike to the lookout over Peyto Lake. About 15 years ago Nathalie was here but then it was summer. Now there is still snow and ice on the lake but again an amazing view of this bright blue lake!
We take some nice pictures of us but it is quite cold here. We walk back to the car but this time we use a very small path through the woods where sometimes we stand in the snow all up to our knees. It is beautiful and quiet. We see a ring necked pheasant. Once back at the car we continue our journey. A bit beyond the Waterfowl Lakes we arrive at Mistaya Canyon where the Mistaya River converges with the Athabasca River. After enjoying this nature for about half an hour we continue when suddenly we see an helicopter flying to the lake and filling a bag with water and drop it a bit further on a wood fire. On our way we see lots of waterfalls such as the famous Bridal Veil Falls. About 10 km further, in the Sunwapta Pass, Banff NP becomes Jasper National Park. Then we reach the famous Athabasca Glacier where we have a picnic on the parking lot of the Icefield Centre and admire the glacier. We see, on top of the glacier, 2 Brewster Ice Explorers. These are special trucks used to drive on the glacier. We drive on and pass the Tangle Falls towards the Sunwapta Falls where we take pictures. When we drive on we suddenly notice by the left side of the road a herd of Mountain Goats! These goats have a white thick fur and are really beautiful. We leave the animals and continue to the Athabasca Falls where we stay for an hour. Before entering Jasper we drive to Lac Beauvert where we see an elk and when we leave we see another elk (larger than the first one) lying peacefully in the grass. We drive on and arrive in Jasper and look for Chateau Jasper. At the reception desk the girl asks if we had a nice day. She originally comes from East Canada and lives in Jasper for about a year now. When we show her the pictures of the mountain goats she is amazed that we saw them, as she never did! For us this was a great feeling! The hotel for which we were somewhat afraid as it had some bad critics on the internet turns out to be one of the nicest hotels of the trip with especially a very nice and large buffet and we decide to have our dinner and breakfast the next day at the hotel. We still have problems with our rented GPS and we ask the hotel manager if we can use some paper to write a fax and send it. As we do not intend to depend the rest of the trip from Alamo offices Nathalie writes an angry letter and faxes it to the main office of Alamo. From now on we put the GPS in the luggage and use our own GPS.
Daytrip approx. 304 km