When we left Valemount the weather was not the greatest. Drizzly with low clouds. But we decided to push on taking the Yellowhead Highway to Jasper. We could decide there what to do next.
Mount Robson was our constant companion on this section of the drive:
Jasper is your typical skiing/hiking town with lots of hotels, restaurants and sports shops. not to mention all other types of shopping. But no big box stores in sight. Its main feature is the historic train station (Jasper was developed as a railway town):
"The Canadian" a popular train with dome cars that runs from Toronto to Vancouver. It was pulling into the station as we arrived. People disembarked to spend some time in Jasper while others were enjoying coffee and waiting to board:
|This company rents uniquely painted camping vans, cheap.|
|Not sure I would want to drive around in this|
If you see any wild animal on the parkway do not, I repeat, DO NOT get out of your car. In fact the parks service asks that you do not stop the car. Simply slow down, get your photo and keep on going. People who approach the bears are a danger not only to themselves but the bears as well. There is an excellent movie at the Lake Louise Information Centre telling you how to interact with and protect yourself from the wildlife in the park. And protect the wildlife from you.
The drive down the parkway is spectacular:
|One of the Park's famous emerald lakes. caused by powdered lime in the melting snow.|
|Near the top of the pass, but still climbing|
We walked on the one at The Grand Canyon several years ago. and were totally unimpressed. It was very expensive. Not only did you pay to go on the skywalk but you first had to pay to enter the Hualapai Nation lands, after driving over 10 miles of dirt road. Then you pay to enter the skywalk. And you cannot take your camera out on the skywalk - they take a photo and charge big dollars for it.
We did not take the Glacier Skywalk but it appears to be much more spectacular and much more reasonably priced. And for $25 we suggest you try it.
Incidentally, Canada's Nation Parks charge a daily admittance fee or you can buy a yearly pass. At $120 for the two of us it is a little more expensive than the US National Parks pass ($80) but very much worth the money if you plan to spend more than 3 or 4 days in the parks system.
There is no parking at the Glacier Skywalk. They bus you up from the Columbia Icefield Centre. The Icefield Centre also offers dry camping spots for $15 per night. That is where we stayed for one night. If you do this be sure to get there early to get a relatively flat spot - it is on the side of the mountain.
We found a spot that was reasonably flat and had a great view of the Athabasca Glacier:
It is a massive area. I took this photo of an info board at the Lake Louise Information Centre that shows the size of this ice field:
The trip down the mountain from the Icefield Centre is pretty spectacular:
|Look over the rail in the centre of the photo. |
That small squiggley thing down there between the mountains, under the clouds, is where we are going.
|The road down - that is a big curve up ahead!|
The Weeping Wall:
|Way more spectacular than any of the falls we saw at Yosemite|
|Up, up we went|
|To a frozen Bow Lake and lots of snow at the summit|
|What goes up must come down|
Next post: Lake Louise and Banff.
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