Welcome to Alberta
Where the prairies meet the mountains.
Calgary is the largest city in the province.
Edmonton is nearly as large as Calgary. They have a strong hockey rivalry.
Oil is the business of Edmonton, and is reflected in the hockey team’s name. (photos of Edmonton from Wikipedia)
Banff was Canada’s first national park, and remains a beautiful area.
Lake Louise is renown for the turquoise water, and tourists.
The Icefields Parkway is a 140 mile long road from Banff to Jasper, passing numerous glaciers and waterfalls. It is one of the best drives in the world.
Jasper is home to Athabasca Falls. Tomorrow is our final stop in Canada – British Columbia.
A drive through Alberta and BC turned out to be ‘Waterfalls Day’, but not before meeting some locals along the road.
First stop was Maligne Canyon, Alberta. This very narrow canyon featured a nice waterfalls with numerous erosion ‘pots’ along the river.
After crossing into British Columbia, we found Rearguard Falls. It is noted as the furthest into the mountains that salmon make it from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. Unfortunately we saw none, even though this is the time of year they migrate.
In Wells Gray Provincial Park we found Spahats Falls, taller than Niagara. We thought that was amazing until we continued on to….
Helmcken Falls – 420′ high, nearly 3 times the height of Niagara, with great volume as well.
The water rushing over provided excellent visuals providing a great ending to Waterfalls Day.
The trip continued north from Banff toward the Icefields Parkway, a 180 mile drive to Jasper that takes you past numerous glaciers on the mountains. But first we made a stop for an invigorating hike up Johnton Canyon. This hike included numerous catwalks suspended above the canyon floor, as well as traditional paths. The effort lead to two great waterfalls.
Just before the start of the Icefields Parkway is Lake Louise, a popular tourist stop – so popular there are numerous attendants directing traffic through the entire town to get to the parking lots. We stayed about 30 minutes before leaving the crowds and heading on…
Because a short drive later you were on the Icefields Parkway and has better views with far far fewer people.
At the Columbia Icefields they offer an option to take a tour onto the Athabasca Glacier that included a visit to the ‘Skywalk’, a cantilevered walkway with translucent floors to see straight down 1000′.
The special Ice Coaches were constantly ferrying people onto the glacier. They made a point about how fast the glacier is receding, you would think all the traffic can’t be helping it.
But still, we got to go on a glacier.
Our day ended at Athabasca Falls, near the town of Jasper. I have had many spectacular drives, but the Icefields Parkway is easily one of the 10 best ever.
Established in 1885 Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest. Set in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the park itself it a natural wonder surrounding the town of Banff.
The town itself is nice, filled with the typical tourist shops, but kept nicer than most. A visit to Banff is highly recommended.
Views from Tunnel Mountain
The famed Fairmount Hotel
The waters are turquoise due to mineral content.
There were a few hoodoos.
Lake Minnewanka provided the setting for a boat tour.
An eagle kept an eye over the boat tour.
Calgary, Alberta was the next stop, where we arrived right as the Pride Parade ended. People were in a festive mood.
There is a bluff just north of downtown Calgary offering a nice view of the downtown skyline.
The river was a favorite rafting spot.
The impressive pedestrian/biking ‘Peace Bridge’.
While there are some older buildings downtown, much has been replaced with new skyscrapers.
Calgary is famous for it’s rodeo, the Calgary Stampede. Part of the grounds is the arena, the Saddledome.
The city has been celebrating Canada 150.
The trip continued north into Far Southeastern British Columbia, where we found the town of Sparwood, which was a mining town. It is now home of the ‘World’s Largest Truck’!
We continued on into Alberta and visited the site of Frank, Alberta. In 1903 the mountain gave way, burying much of the small town in rocks and mud. Today an interpretive center reminds all how mighty nature can be.
The road to Calgary took us back into the Prairies, but ran along side the Front Range of Alberta.
Farms were numerous until we reached Calgary.