Thursday, July 06, 2006


Here is our TOP TEN list of some of the large and popular attractions on the Icefield Parkway where the expression tourist-trap literally means 'trapped-by-bus loads of-tourists'!! The order of 'must-sees' below is based on a drive originating from Lake Louise and ending at Jasper.
1.Hector Lake : It is the largest natural lake in Banff National Park, most of the lakes in the area have exceptional color and clarity because of the rock minerals suspended in water.

2.Crowfoot Glacier : Named so because in the early 1900s it had three toes resembling 
the foot of a crow, however later the third toe broke off and melted. 
3.Bow Lake : Rising from the turquoise blue waters of Bow Lake are steep rugged mountain peaks that define what the Canadian Rockies are all about. Num-ti-jah Lodge is nestled at the northern edge of Bow lake, this lodge stands witness to some of the most dramatic scenic vistas this place has to offer. Founded by Jimmy Simpson in late 19th Century, the fuschia pink outer walls of the lodge capture the corner of your eye and draws you to it. It is truly a sight to behold amongst all the nature surrounding it.  

4.Peyto Lake : If you are willing to stretch your legs,(have the bug spray handy) the short tarmac path off the main highway, leads you to the Peyto Lake Viewpoint. Your payoff for the somewhat steep but short hike is a view of a gorgeous icy blue lake set far below in a deep glacial valley. Its distinct bear-like unique shape sets it apart from all other lakes in the area, and leaves a permanent impression on your mind.
5.Mount Chephren 3266m : We were amazed at ourselves, for associating these gigantic peaks as living things! Each had a name, personality and character of its own. Mount Chephren was named after the son of Cheops - builder of one of Egypt's great pyramids. Its classic horned peak resembles that of the famed pyramids.Waterfowl Lake is framed by Mount Chephren, and is seen right along the highway. You cannot miss it!

6.Saskatchewan River Crossing : Meeting two other rivers- the Howse and Mistaya, the Saskatchewan River Crossing is one of Canada's heritage river sites. It can be accessed by taking a short trail to view the actual culmination of the three rivers. This extensive corridor of the river(s) provided a major east-west link across Canada serving as a popular trade, exploration and settlement route.
7.Weeping Wall : Just driving along highway 93, you come across waterfalls resembling a mountain crying a river of tears. The 'weeping' waterfalls tumble more than 100 meters, making a beautiful sight along the way. On a clear, sunny summer day, you wouldn't be surprised to see kids and adults enjoying a refreshing splash, to cool themselves off!

8.Columbia Icefields : This is how Highway 93 got its more popular name of Icefield Parkway. The Columbia Icefields are the largest reservoir of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle. Covering more than 300 square kilometers in area, the icefields straddle the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, feeding three of the continent's major river systems which flow into the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
9.Athabasca Glacier : This has got be a geologist's delight! As one of the most accessible glaciers in North America, its tongue of ice 6km long and 1km wide, is within walking distance of the highway. Being born to, and taught by a geography teacher, I simply couldn't resist exploring the glacier on foot!! You can also travel (more popularly) in a specially designed giant 6-wheeled all-terrain Ice explorer (56 person capacity) that tours the icy slopes of Athabasca Glacier. Brewster company has tours operating every 15-20 min during the summer months between the months of April and October. The feeling of stepping onto a glacier and witnessing rivulets form as we speak, was indescribable. I dedicated this part of our trip to my mom, and all her lessons in Geography, being able to physically experience what she taught, was like seeing a fairy tale come true!

10.Athabasca Falls : Only 25 kms shy of the town of Jasper, you come across one of the most breathtaking and powerful waterfalls in the Rocky Mountains. This is where the Athabasca river thunders through a narrow gorge smoothing its walls and creating large potholes by the sheer force of rushing water carrying sand and rock. Although at a height of 75 feet, the Athabasca falls may not be considered very high by canadian rocky standards, nevertheless they are a brilliant spectacle of roaring water, spray and mist.
TIP: Even though walking on glaciers, presents an opportunity of a lifetime, they can quickly lead to disaster. Glaciers are dangerous, and are infamously known to consume lives when people wander past warning signs only to end up falling into a crevasse. Please exercise caution and stick to the cordoned area marked by yellow caution tape. Curb your over-adventurous spirit because just being here is adventure enough! And you definitely want to live to tell...

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