Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rockie Mountain High.............Banff to Jasper...Wow

Hello and Greetings from Edmonton:

With apologies to the late John Denver, we've been on a "Rockie Mountain high" for the past 10 days or so after traveling through the spectacular Canadian Rockie Mountains. The vistas are breathtaking and each day we approach "sensory overload" as the roads and views seem to be more beautiful with each turn. We've been fortunate to finally have some really nice weather and the snow topped mountains with clear blue skies have made for picture perfect conditions.

To recap: We left Calgary in snow. Yep, had to brush 3" of the white "stuff" off the slide toppers so we could get under way on Saturday morning (6/6) and the campground looked picture post card perfect............for February ! Our drive over to Banff was filled with magnificent views and blowing snow (strong flurries) that really kept me focused on my driving duties.

The c/g on Saturday morning June 6th !

Our picnic table.

On the Drive from Calgary to Banff.

We camped inside the Banff National Park and our site was nestled in the trees amongst the snow capped mountains and the wandering herds of deer and elk. Yep, they wandered through the campground and have no fear of people. Quite a sight.

A visitor to our campsite in Banff.

Tunnel Mtn. c/g in Banff.

Banff is an "alpine" village surrounded by mountains and full of tourists shopping. Seems the main activity in town is to shop and the stores are full of all the latest trinkets to get our Dollars, Euro's, Yuan and Yen. Lot's of Asian visitors. We visited the Hot Springs; the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel; walked the shops and enjoyed some of the restaurants. But most of our time was spent wandering the paths, trails and mountain roads savoring the views and the splendor of the scenery. A side trip up the Bow Parkway to Lake Louise added more awe inspiring vista's to our already overloaded senses. Lunch at the Chateau Lac Louise overlooking the lake made for a wonderful repast. All along the roads are deer, elk, wolves and bear.

Waterfall behind Banff Springs Hotel

Downtown Banff

Downtown Banff (looking the other way)

Lake Moraine

Chateau Lake Louise & me.

Lake Louise

We moved along on Wednesday to the Icefields Parkway which runs through the middle of the Canadian Rockies and connects Bannf to Jasper; two separate but huge National Parks. Route 93 is described as the "most scenic drive in the world" and I'm quite sure they are right. Huge mountain's, snow capped summits, deep gorges, rushing rivers and spectacular falls are everywhere; and then you get to the glaciers ! Wow, icefields and glaciers line the central part of the highway about halfway between the two towns. No other towns or villages, just some park warden homes and maintenance buildings hidden in the trees.

A view along the Icefield Pkwy.

More fantastic vistas on the Parkway.

We 'boondocked" ovenite at the Icefield Centre. The driving is slow, averaging about 40 mph and with numerous photo ops it takes quite some time to travel the highways. The center offers excursion buses out to the Athabasca Glacier. These "ice buses" actually get to drive out onto the Glacier and are geared so low that with the gas pedal all the way to floor the top speed is only 18 KPH (kilometers) . Quite a view and experience.

Icefield buses

Standing on the Glacier

Athabasca Glacier

A slowly receding Glacier

Another spectacular ride along the upperhalf of the Parkway the next day and we camped in Whistler's at the Jasper National Park. Large and crowded campground but big sites and full hook-ups. Jasper is not as "artsy" as Banff and has the CN train yard and station in the middle of downtown. Lot's of young folk and hikers here. Some good restaurants and small shops but more geared to hiking and biking then shopping.

A view of the Parkway heading to Jasper

A drive up to Magline Lake in the mountain range gave us the opportunity for more wildlife viewing: bears, deer, moose and a bald eagle plus more sensory overload with lakes, streams and waterfalls.

The Three bears of Lake Magline

Look closely for the bald eagle

Lake Magline

Moma bear & her cubs

Picture postcard perfect !

During one of our stops we met a young couple from Edmonton. They had just gotten engaged (he proposed on the little beach near Lake Annette) and they were so excited and bursting with joy to share their good news. Good luck Kelly & Athena ! (see their pic below).Lake Annette
Kelly & Athena

We've been in Edmonton for a few days and had to leave the beauty of the mountains behind. The city is industrial, busy and crowded. As the capital of Alberta it is bustling with folks and oilsands workers. It is also home to the largest concentration of Ukrainian people outside of Eastern Europe and we toured a heritage village. There was a large migration in the late 1800's and early 1900's with free land grants and a promise of a better life.

We'll move onto Dawson Creek on Friday (6/19) and the our first look at the Alcan Highway.

Enjoy the photo's. We'll talk again soon.

Gene & Laurie


Richard Zheng said...

Wonderful blogs, inspiring experience. We have rented a RV and is planning to drive to Banff NP and Jasper NP in August. We live in southeast Washington State and it will be our first time to drive RV. The RV we have rented is about 24' long and we are not allowed to tow another car using this rented RV. I have two questions and I hope I can get some inputs and advise from you:
1. Is this a safe drive for RV from highway 93 to canada highway 1 to banff NP? Some of my friends told me this is not an easy drive from Vancouver BC to Banff through canada highway 1. I wonder what is your experience.

2. Since we will not hav a car with us, is it feasible to drive around only using RV? Do we have to reserve full-service campinggroup in the Parks?

Thanks a lot!

Bing from Tri-Cities

Dave said...

The driving you are describing is not a problem at all with a 24' RV. We've driven BC highways for decades with larger RV's. Sometimes you just have to be patient on the long climbs; and take it easy when you are going down the same hills. Just basic caution stuff. You will have a great time.

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