Where We Be
|Icefields Parkway -- Peyto Lake Hike
|We think the short hike to Peyto Lake is one
of the best stops along the Icefields Parkway
|This is Athabasca Glacier -- a part of the huge Columbia Icefield. It's located right
across from the Icefields Centre. Glacier sighting doesn't get any easier than this!
|You can follow a trail right up to the toe of the glacier (no tour needed).
The hike is 1.2 miles (2 km) round-trip and takes about an hour.
|Here you can see people at the toe of the glacier -- and others on a tour directly on the glacier itself. We took the Sno-Coach
tour on a previous visit. A Sno-Coach is essentially a bus with huge treaded tires that drives up onto the glacier. From there you
can walk on the glacier itself. If you take the tour, dress warmly -- the katabatic winds blowing off the glacier tend to be very cold.
|Sunwapta Falls overlook is only 0.1 km away from the roadside parking lot so it's a
no-brainer. You'll be treated to a huge onslaught of frothing water in a tight canyon.
|Athabasca Falls is one of the most popular stops
along the entire Icefields Parkway, and for good reason
|A series of five bridges provide terrific views down onto the falls,
which cascade with incredible force through the narrow canyon walls
|Same spot as above, but looking up the glaciated valley. Be sure to push on past the
crowded tourist overlook-- you only have to hike a short distance to a little side trail for
views like these. Or continue on to Bow Summit (1.8 miles one way, 800 ft elev. gain).
|In truth, you don't even have to get off the
road to enjoy some pretty amazing scenery
|You stand a good chance of seeing elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. If you're lucky you might see grizzlies,
black bear, caribou, moose, or mountain goats. In theory there are gray wolves and mountain lions.
|The weather can be fickle here, so be prepared for anything
from early morning fog to bright sunshine to thunderstorms
|The roar of Athabasca Falls is an unforgettable finish to your Icefields
Parkway drive. Just a bit further north is the town of Jasper itself.
|We were startled when this elk descended a
steep embankment to forage near the road
|Later on, at Wapiti Campground in Jasper, this fellow
got a little too close and the elk let him know it!
|As the early morning fog lifted and clouds swirled around the mountains, we were
treated to some truly outstanding views. The lake itself is a startling turquoise blue.
If you make it to Banff, be absolutely sure to
continue north to Jasper National Park as well.
The two parks are connected by the Icefields
Parkway, which is a destination in its own right.
You'll have a front-row seat to some of the best
scenery the Canadian Rockies has to offer. The
road stretches 144 miles (230 km), and there are
plenty of pullovers offering enticing views and
the chance to see wildlife. Three of the must-
sees are Athabasca Glacier, Sunwapta Falls, and
To make the most of your experience, be sure
to get out and hike -- you'll be amazed at the
pristine wilderness scenery you can enjoy with
just a small amount of effort. We especially
recommend Peyto Lake (left) and Parker Ridge,
both short hikes that offer spectacular views.
We did these two trails but had to skip others
just as tempting, like Wilcox Pass and Helen
Lake. (Oh well, guess we'll just have to go back!)
|Also be prepared to pull off a lot for roadside
views like this one at Tangle Creek Falls
|The Icefields Centre is located about halfway up Icefields Parkway. It's usually extremely
crowded, so if you simply want to view Athabasca Glacier, park across the street instead.