Canada & Alaska

Michele & Stephen's trip in 2012

The Rockies (Part One)

The Canadian Rocky Mountains are one of the highlights of Canada, with the road from Jasper to Banff being the most recommended route. Because of our gearbox delay in Edmonton we are later than planned. The up-side of this that the trees are changing colour, the down-side will be apparent later.

Before reaching Jasper we made a short detour to the Miette Hotsprings. Hot water - Yes, Minerals - No, Smell - No, Views - Good, Recommended - Yes.

The town of Jasper looks like a ski resort out of season (because it is). If you want souvenirs related to bears, moose, Mounties, maple syrup, "eh!", or the Canadian flag you are in luck. If you want excellent cakes and pastries try The Other Paw.

The Jasper campground is reputedly the largest in Canada (with over 750 sites) and still open at the end of September (most other campgrounds are closed). There are elks.

Attractions around Jasper include Medicine Lake that empties during winter through a hole in the bottom and ...

... Maligne Lake that doesn't.

Between Jasper and the Icefield Centre are two spectacular waterfalls. The Athabasca Falls and ...

... the Sunwapta Falls.

The Icefield Centre is a visitor information centre, hotel and car parks adjacent to the Athabasca glacier. One of the car parks is free, the other is for RVs and charges $Can 17.00 per day. There are no campground facilities. But the views are impressive. After we arrived it snowed.

There are three things to do at the Icefield Centre. Firstly, you can walk to a lookout where you can look up at the Athabasca glacier. We did this whilst a mild blizzard reduced visibility to a few hundred metres. Bracing.

Secondly, you can learn all about the Athabasca glacier in the information centre. Like all modern exhibitions the information centre makes extensive use of interactive displays. Very informative.

Thirdly, you can take a giant snow bus and drive up the glacier. You still can't see much in the drifting snow, but it sure beats pushing the (non-working) buttons in the information centre. Recommended.

Then, just when we were ready to leave, it started snowing and we were told that the road was closed in both directions. So we spent another night in the car park. Luckily both our generator (Honda) and our diesel heating (Webasto) worked.