Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jasper and Banff National Parks

We entered these parks yesterday morning,Sunday, from British Columbia. We drove the Icefields Parkway for the entire length of the parks. In Jasper and Banff there is a lot to see and do, but we had only one day scheduled for this visit. Well, at least I know now what people are taking about when they mention this area of Canada. It is everything and more what people have told me about it. Jasper is the largest park representing the Rocky Mountain natural region. The parkway took us through remote high elevated terrain with mountain vistas which are spectacular. Many of those mountains are covered with icefields. The Columbia ice fields alone cover 241 square miles. From those ice fields lie the fingers of many glaciers which can be seen from the parkway. The Icefield Centre is one area where it is possible to hike fairly close to one of glaciers.
 Another stop of ours yesterday was at the Athabasca Falls. The falls are awesome to view, and so also are the canyon walls which the Athabasca River carved out many years ago. The falls are supposedly the most powerful flow of water in the mountain parks.
The color of the glacial lakes and rivers was also a highlight for me yesterday. The melt water of the glaciers carries the silt and rock flour that gives the area's waters an opaque turquoise color. Icy blue-green Lake Louise springs from Victoria Glacier, and is the most famous of all the lakes in the parks. It lies in a beautiful alpine setting, which you can see in the picture below.
 That was pretty much our day yesterday. The park was full with many people like us out sight-seeing. We thought we would see lots of wildlife, but I do not blame them for hiding  from everyone. One bear was seen foraging on a hillside, he was causing such a traffic jam that we drove away as quickly as we could. And we did see a herd of mountain goats grazing by the side of the road as we left the area today. The only campground we could find last night was in Banff National Park, with no hook-ups. But it still turned out to be a pleasant experience with our home tucked in between pine trees and the mountains towering above us. After parking we took the small car and drove into the town of Banff. We spent our evening there strolling the streets and listening to the buskers playing their various instruments on the street corners.

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