Icefields Parkway to Jasper, 3rd Chapter

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Jul 12th, 2007, 04:28 PM
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Icefields Parkway to Jasper, 3rd Chapter

The Icefields Parkway was simply awesome. I can see why it is proclaimed on of the best highways on earth. You will want to leave early as there are so many places to stop along the way. When you pass through the Park gate, ask for an Icefields Parkway guidemap, it is very helpful to figure out where you are along the way.

Our first stop was an unexpected one, at Hector Lake. This lake is right beside the road, and we happened to come upon it when there was a perfect reflection of the mountains. Made for some great photos.

We also stopped for pictures at Crowfoot Glacier, didn't do the hike, just viewed from the lookout. this is worth a quick stop.

Next, Bow Lake. Bow Lake tied with Moraine Lake as our favorite lakes on this trip. There are so many beautiful lakes, but these two just seemed extra scenic. There is a parking lot just outside the Num Ti Jah lodge where you can leave your car and walk near the lake. The colors of the lake seemed to change when you stood at different vantage points.

Peyto Lake was another pretty one. However, this was one of the only locations where we felt like it was overrun by tourists. There were several people at the lookout, and they just seemed to keep coming! We were surprised at how many people simply walked up to sights, took a picture, then headed back to their cars. Very few people actually took the time to take in the sights and enjoy the surroundings.

Mistaya Canyon was an enjoyable stop. About 30-40 minutes round trip and a very nice canyon, worth it even if you go to Maligne and Johnston Canyons.

We stopped at the Columbia Icefield and walked up to the glacier as far as was allowed by the cones. Although there were several signs posted about not passing the cones, many people ignored the warnings and went up higher on the glacier. We decided that 5-6 signs warning of death by falling into a crevasse was enough of a warning for us not to proceed!! This was an interesting (and short) climb from the parking area. They posted signs indicating where the glacier had been several years earlier, so you could see how much it had receded over the years. It did get a bit cooler as you got closer to the glacier, but no need for hats and gloves or anything.

There was a huge waterfall along this area, it was either Tangle Falls or Bridal Veil Falls, not sure which it was. It was on the right side (going north), and was literally on the side of the road. There is a small parking area on the left side of the road.

We visited Athabasca Falls from our Jasper base, but you could also stop along the way. Athabasca Falls were roaring-extremely loud, the pictures here don't do it justice, it's video material. An easy, short walk from the parking lot, you will probably find many people here. It was one of the most crowded spots around Jasper.

Our lodging in Jasper was at Alpine Village. We would stay here again, and recommend it highly. We chose a sleeping cabin, and I was afraid this might turn out to be a bad choice. I was only able to find one short review of this cabin type, so I wasn't sure what we might end up with. But, it was perfectly fine. The sleeping cabins are actually 2 cabins joined together. Both cabins have a front porch with two chairs. There is a cement wall between the cabins, so we didn't hear our neighbors. The room was very spacious with plenty of room for all our stuff. There was a fridge and coffee maker in the room also. The bathroom was large with lots of storage shelves. Location was great, right next to the river, and only a few minutes drive into town.

Stop by the office for any questions about Jasper, they really seemed to know the area and restaurants. There is a binder with several menus available to view in the office as well.

The first night we ate at Karouzo's Steakhouse, right on the main road in Jasper, Connaugt Drive. Lots of menu choices, excellent service and nice atmosphere.

Another great place was Something Else on Patricia St, nice atmosphere, lots of menu variety and reasonable prices. You might encounter a wait here, but they do take reservations.

Jasper Pizza Place was also good-also located on Connaught. They have 3 seating options...you can sit in the service section on the right (waiter service), or you can sit to the left and pick up your own food, or you can dine up on their rooftop. (Note that anyone under 18 cannot go to the rooftop at night, I think it was after 7 p.m.) The food is prepared in an open area in the back of the restaurant, so it is not a big deal to grab your order when it's ready. We chose to seat ourselves one night, saved some time and money with that option.

One of my favorite places was The Other Paw, which is a second location of the Bear Paw bakery. It is right on Connaught as well. Fantastic baked goods and sandwiches. I highly recommend the java cheesecake brownie, I tried them on two different occasions, just to make sure I could provide an accurate report on the quality!! They have lots of different breads, pretzels, cookies, cakes, too much to list. There is seating by the front window and booths in the back. Their sandwiches are made to order, and very good. I did check out the original Bear Paw, and did not like it as well. It was on Cedar St, a bit further down and out of the way. This location is very small, not much of any seating, and fewer offerings than the "Other Paw". I am sure that the food was just as good at either location.

Another option for sandwiches or breakfast is the Soft Rock Cafe. We got sandwiches here one morning before a hike, and they were good. I would not recommend going here if you are in a hurry, the service was slow. It's a counter service order (or "till" as they say in Canada) process-and both times we went there was one person taking the orders and one person preparing the food. If you go in the morning, they are pretty backed up cooking the breakfast foods. It was certainly quicker to get sandwiches from the Other Paw, where there always seemed to be 5-6 people working.

I would also recommend Earl's, which has several locations in the Canadian Rockies. We saw Earl's in Calgary and Banff as well.

Highly recommend going to Maligne Canyon. We parked at the 5th bridge and walked up from there. This is a good way to manage this hike, as your return trip is mostly downhill. The parking lot was empty when we arrived at 8:30 a.m. When we returned (about 3 hours later), it was full. Loved this hike, the sights and sounds were unlike anything I've experienced. Interesting places to stop all along the way. The catwalks over the water were a nice addition. I thought the bottom of the trail was more scenic than the top, the people who only got out of their cars at the 1st bridge to view the top really missed out on this canyon. The best stuff requires some hiking. The hike was not difficult, lots of uphill, but just stop and take in the scenery and you'll be fine.

We continued on to Maligne Lake, this was a nice drive and we saw big horn sheep on the way and the return trip. I would say that Maligne Lake was my least favorite lake. It was large, but not nearly as scenic as the other lakes we saw in the area. Medicine Lake, which is on the way to Maligne, was very pretty.

We really wanted to do the Angel Glacier/Cavell Meadows trail, but it was still closed. Over a meter of snow on several points of the trail, so this probably won't be open for a few weeks. We did hike the Path of the Angel Glacier for a closeup view of the lake at the bottom of the glacier. This was very cool-icebergs in the water and huge icebergs on the rocks surrounding the lake. The entire trail was literally in the middle of an avalance. There were several small trees that had started to grow in the rubble, very interesting to see how things can grow in the middle of rocks. There were very few people on this trail, so it was nice and peaceful. We spent about an hour hiking this trail and enjoying the glacier area, well worth the stop.

On the way down the Mt. Edith Cavell Rd, we had an unexpected site-a black bear with two cubs were walking along side the road. The cubs were playing in the grass for a minute or so, then the "mom" decided it was time to cross the road in front of us. We were able to get some fantastic video and photos of them. I had warned my husband that we probably would not see any bear on this trip, and we saw 5 during our time in the Rockies!! (During a trip to Alaska last year, we only saw 2 bears, and they were specs through binoculars, so this was a real treat!)

I can't say enough wonderful things about the Canadian Rockies, it was by far my favorite vacation. I think the only thing I would have done differently is the 2 nights we stayed in Canmore. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton (on a points stay), and we didn't care for Canmore. I thought Canmore would be more tourist oriented than it was, but it was really more of a town where people live. I would choose to stay in Banff over Canmore the next time we visit the area.

If anyone has questions, I'll try to help out.
Tasha440 is offline  
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Jul 13th, 2007, 04:01 AM
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I loved your report. This isn't the last installment, is it? Please go on.
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Jul 13th, 2007, 08:37 AM
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Actually, that's about it...our only remaining night was spent in Calgary awaiting our early morning flight back home to the 95 degree hot & humid northeast. I really miss that fresh mountain air!!
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Aug 21st, 2007, 02:26 AM
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Aug 21st, 2007, 03:55 AM
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Thanks for your report. We did some of the same sights on our trip and it was great to relive our trip through your words.

The roadside falls after the Icefield Center would be Tangle Falls.
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