National Park Geek Series - Jasper
National Park Geek Series - Jasper
Last week I blogged all about Banff and how enamored by it I became on our travels. This week, I’m excited to explain to you the incredible beauty of Jasper and the Icefields Parkway. Our original plans were changed due to a crazy snowstorm in October and you can read all about that excitement here.
The most convenient route to get to Jasper (from a nearby major city) is to drive the Icefields Parkway. This highway connects Banff and Jasper by heading north from Banff for approximately 3.5 hours. The Icefields Parkway is one of the most gorgeous scenic drives that I’ve ever been on. As likely my favorite part of the entire 8 day trip, we were lucky to have mostly clear roads and sunny skies. It took us about 7-8 hours to explore all of the sights that I wanted to capture along the way.
We stopped at Herbert Lake, Bow Lake, Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields where we saw the Athabasca Glacier (my 2nd favorite stop), Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls (absolute favorite) and the Valley of the 5 Lakes. It took us about an hour to hike the Valley of the 5 Lakes. It’s an easy hike with little elevation change and each lake was its own shade of green or blue. All of the other stops required little to no walking to the best view points. We had dinner at Syrahs where the gnocchi was mouth watering in the best way possible! Later on, we caught some shut-eye in Jasper so that we could explore the area the next day.
We tried to see all of the Jasper sights that I had planned on but due to the snowstorm the day before, some roads were closed. To our disappointment, we found that the road to see the Mt. Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier was out of commission because of the weather. We still saw Patricia Lake, Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake. Patricia Lake had a crisp and alluring reflection partnered with a cute dock as a platform for the Canadian parks iconic red adirondack chairs. Maligne Lake surrounds Spirit Island, which you can only access by ferry or a very long walk along the shore. We opted out of viewing the island because we had several more sights to see and still had to make it back to Calgary that night.
The drive to Maligne Canyon and Lake is breathtaking. The road is surrounded by mountains and lakes and we saw lots of wildlife including moose, elk, and deer. We then saw a bear when we were back on the Icefields Parkway, Banff bound.
While heading back to Banff, we made a quick detour to see Emerald Lake and Natural Bridge. Emerald Lake is incredibly clear and a lovely shade of green. You can rent canoes to paddle across it. Natural Bridge is a rock formation that used to be a waterfall but now has a small crack in it, causing the waterfall to reroute and keeping the top open to walk across.
The only thing on my itinerary for Banff that we didn’t get to do was hike Johnston Canyon but I was able to complete it a few days later with the retreat girls where we hiked a total of 7.5 miles to the Ink Pots and back.
That wraps ups our 8 day adventure in the Canadian Rockies! This is an area that I would definitely re-visit even if only for the picturesque views.
Don’t wait for the chance to see this. Make it happen!
My name is Anna VanAgtmael, and I am a certified yoga instructor with a passion for yoga, travel, and connecting with others.
I believe in trying everything once. My values lie in collecting memories over things. Though we desire adventure and authentic experiences, naturally our fear holds us back.
My ambition is to inspire and encourage you to unmask your fears and jump into the unknown.
Anna VanAgtmael | Yoga Enthusiast | Trip Planning Wizard