Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Icefields Parkway – “One of the 10 Most Beautiful Drives in the World”

Ice Fields Parkway (a.k.a. HWY 93) stretches
from Banff to Jasper
That prestigious designation was awarded to the Icefields Parkway by Conde Nast Magazine and we certainly will not argue with that accolade.  And, if that was not enough, National Geographic deemed it “One of the World’s Great Scenic Highways.”  Not only is the road 230 kilometers of continuous World Heritage Site protected within two national parks but it flaunts 7 icefields (which scientists call large upland glaciers) and 25 additional glaciers, bringing the total to an amazing 100 plus glaciers.  Throw in some rushing waterfalls, turquoise lakes, craggy mountains, sweeping valleys, and iconic wildlife and you have the most fantastic “Sunday drive” of your life.  Trust me, this drive will leave you amazed, inspired, and in awe of this planet's natural beauty.  This is way more than a road just between Jasper and Lake Louise!


On the day we traveled the parkway, it was Betsy’s turn to drive and boy was I glad.  There was no way I wanted to keep my eyes focused just on the road.  She loves driving anyway.  Our sweeping front window was illuminated with the brilliant sights that had us nearly in tears and built our anxiety to see what lay ahead. 


Be prepared to take your time exploring the Icefields Parkway because there are many pull-outs with trails, scenic overlooks, interpretive displays, and picnic areas.  Not to mention all the wildlife viewing that results in traffic jams.  But you won't find us complaining about those traffic jams.

bighorn sheep with babies

Doesn't she look pretty in front of the spectacular Canadian Rockies?
Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway
Midway through you will reach the showcase of the parkway - the Columbia Icefield.  This impressive survivor from the last ice age spans the Continental Divide and is the headwaters to three major river systems.  It cradles eight major glaciers and brushes against some of the highest mountains in the Rockies.  At the Columbia Icefield is the Icefield Centre where you can stretch your legs, get something to eat, view interpretive exhibits, or take a “bus” up to the glacier for a first–hand look at this millennia old, natural ice sculpture. 



While the Athabasca Glacier is monumental in scale, it is slowly diminishing.  The glacier reached it's maximum length in 1844 but has receded over 1.5 kilometers (slightly less than a mile) and continues to disappear.
Today, it is clear how much the glacier has moved.  
We thought the Icefields Parkway was just a way to get from Lake Louise to Jasper but we were stunningly wrong.  It was hard leaving the beauty of Banff and Lake Louise, but this glorious road was a wonderful segway and will leave a lasting impression on us.  Three years of driving our RV across the U.S. and Canada has made some lasting impressions…no doubt this one will not fade away anytime soon.  


7 comments:

  1. Wow - that really is an incredibly beautiful drive. When we were first heading west I was constantly taking pictures through the windshield of all the beautiful scenery we were passing. I've tried to get better about just pulling over to take the pictures! Also I just noticed that our Allegro has the same paint scheme/colors as your Phaeton!

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  2. Wow is the right description for the Icefields Parkway. We've driven it twice and hope to someday take our Phaeton for a drive on that road as well. We've done many of the trails, but there is still plenty for us to do ... and we would probably want to repeat some of the things we've already done as well.

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  3. Thanks so much for the great pictures and description - we haven't been there yet but will use your experiences as a guide for our travels!

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  4. Yes your RV does look gorgeous in front of the Canadian Rockies! A picture for your Christmas cards this year?

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    1. She also looks good in front of the white sandy beaches of northwest Florida...but for now, the cool glacier works great!

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  5. An amazing drive for sure, just be careful you have enough gas. I think I remember a sign that said there was no service stations for 100km (or so).
    Great pictures!!!

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    1. We saw the same fuel warning and filled up. But that would not be a bad place to be stuck on the side of the road for a few days.

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