For the last leg of our Canada trip, we drove towards Jasper through the 230 kilometer Icefields Parkway (which joins the Banff National Park to the Jasper National Park). It is said to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world, something that I can attest to.
Driving this route, takes you past massive glaciers, with the famous Columbia Icefield located nearer towards Jasper (the Columbia Icefield is extremely important to the northern hemisphere’s water supply as it feeds the three oceans of the Artic, Pacific and Atlantic).
Whilst the act of driving itself was a joy with such a scenic backdrop, there were a number of highlights which really should not be missed by anyone passing by this area! Leaving Lake Louise, you soon reach Crowfoot Glacier, named for its two talon-shaped extensions of ice. At the base of the mountain lies the Bow Lake, the source of the Bow River, a great spot for some panoramic photos. The Bow Glacier lies just a short drive down the road.
The next major highlight is Bow Summit and Peyto Lake. With the lake’s bright blue glacial water and an amazing view of the Mistaya Valley, this is just a must see. If you have the time, try to hike the upper trails to get away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time soaking this magnificent sight in.
After crossing over the Saskatchewan River Crossing, the next “must do” is the Parker Ridge trail, a steep walk uphill but with some special views at the top. For a 1.5 hour round trip, you are rewarded with views of the Saskatchewan Glacier, the source of the Saskatchewan River and the longest glacier in the Columbia Icefield.
After seeing so many glaciers from afar, it was finally time to get up close to my first ever glacier, the Athabasca Glacier. The 2KM hike to the glacier is a gentle but steady uphill walk, making it the most accessible glacier in the world.
Whilst we could’ve spent a lot more time exploring all there was on offer, we were really happy with all that we did see. We at least knew that this wouldn’t be the last time we would drive this route as we will be taking the same road back to Calgary, on the way back to London! 🙂