Yay!  Bryce is here with us in
Jasper National Park, Alberta.
     Just as we were getting ready to head back to the lower 48, Bryce called and arranged for a visit. So into Edmonton, Alberta she flew for an 11 day vacation.  What a great surprise and perfect timing for our visit to Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta.
Bryce and Nancy on the shore of a Jasper lake.

     Japer is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of massive mountains, glaciers and wildlife. For the first 3 days of Bryce's visit we had great weather and were able to see everything in Jasper that time allowed.

     Just as we entered Jasper we were treated to a private viewing of a small herd of bighorn sheep.

Then it was on to a beautiful national park campground located approximately 10 miles from the town of Jasper.  Once we settled in, off we went to to explore the park.  The highlight of the journey was the spectacular Athabasca Falls.  We hit the perfect time of day for viewing and photographing this wonder.

     The next day we set out on a long drive down the "Icefields Highway" to the Columbia Icefields. This drive is ranked amongst the most scenic drives in North America.  Every turn in the road brings fantastic mountain scenery, waterfalls, glacial rivers, and wildlife.  And Yay!!!, on our way in to the Sunwapta Falls a large black bear was discovered not more than 20 feet from our car.  Bryce got some excellent photos, but we kept watching our backs during the waterfall hike as the bear was not far from the parking area and was last seen moving in our direction.

Jasper National Park.
     We finally reached our destination and continued to luck-out with great weather.  The Columbia Icefields is the largest icefield in the Rocky Mountains and sits on the Continental Divide along the border of Alberta and British Columbia.  The drive down the Icefields Highway displays glaciers cascading down mountain passes which have spawned from this massive icefield.

We were able to get a seat on a gigantic snow machine which transported us onto one of the glaciers on the lower part of the icefield.  Despite the warm sunny weather, everybody was pretty chilled after spending an hour wandering around on the ice.

Columbia Icefields.
Jasper National Park.

     The tour continued to the Jasper Glacier Skywalk; a semi-circular platform which extends out from a cliff over a glacial river hundreds of feet below.  The skywalk had a glass bottom and glass side-walls and gave the eyrie feeling of standing in mid-air.  Also, you can feel the platform shifting and vibrating as you strolled around its outer reaches.  Our brave Bryce refused to even place a toe onto the glass surface.
The view from the Glacier Skywalk.

Jasper Glacier Skywalk.

     While on the platform I spotted a mountain goat standing on a sheer cliff adjacent to the platform. Bryce had to see for herself, so she crawled out to the edge of the concrete platform and craned her neck to look out of a glass side-wall and catch a glimpse.  This harrowing experience was rewarded with a night on the town in Jasper.  So off we went to experience the food and grog at the Jasper Brewery.
The mountain goat appears to blend in perfectly on
this sheer cliff.

     The next day was our last good weather for a few days so we took the Jasper Sky Tram to the top of The Whistlers Mountain where we were treated to fantastic views of the Canadian Rockies and Jasper National Park.
A view from the top of
The Whistlers Mountain.

The upper building for the Jasper Sky Tram.

The town of Jasper.

     Later we took the scenic drive through Maligne Canyon to Maligne Lake.  We even had time for a boat cruise on Maligne Lake.  This amazing lake is set deep into a steep mountain valley with glaciers cascading off the mountain shoulders over the lake.  The highlight of the lake was a stop at Spirit Island.  This little beauty is one of the most photographed places in Canada.
Maligne Lake

Spirit Island on Maligne Lake.

     The next day, with the rain starting to settle-in, we decided to see if we could catch a glimpse of Mount Robson, one the of the highest mountains in the Canadian Rockies.  So off we went on another journey.  Although the drive was pretty, we arrived at the Mount Robson viewing platform to have a perfect view of a massive gray cloud completely enshrouding the mountain.  Well, at least we saw some great pictures of Mount Robson in the visitor's center.
Nancy & Bryce know how to handle a rainy day.

     Next we drove down the Icefields Highway to its end in the town of Banff in Banff National Park. Banff is another spectacular national park and is similar to Jasper as both parks sit adjacent to each other along the Icefields Highway.  To me, the biggest difference between the 2 parks was the crowds. Banff is located near several population centers which results in traffic jams and stressed-out visitors.

Scenes along the Icefields Highway in
Banff National Park.

     The highlight of Banff is Lake Louise which is a turquoise, glacier fed lake nestled in a spectacular mountain valley.  To beat the crowds, we arrived early and had breakfast at the world renowned Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel which sits directly on the shore of the lake.  After breakfast Bryce and I took a 7-8 mile hike to a backcountry teahouse overlooking Lake Louise while Nancy strolled along the shore of this beautiful lake.  On our way down a mountain pass we spotted a large grizzly bear in a clearing just across the lake from us.  This was Bryce's first grizzly sighting and was at a safe distance.
A grizzly bear near Lake Louise.

Lake Louise from a mountain pass.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel.

     Nancy and Bryce had the time for a kayak adventure on one of Banff's mountain lakes. However, their journey was shortened by the presence of a dam which was not visible from the put-in.  They still had an hour on the lake but had to fight a strong headwind on their return to the parking lot.
Bryce & Nancy's return from their kayak trip.
Their timing was great as the weather was about to take a turn for the worse.

Bryce & Nancy's kayak lake at the start of their trip.

     All too soon it was time for Bryce to return to Connecticut.  Bryce flew out of Calgary, so we had the opportunity to see the area and visit Dwayne & Linda Banister, new friends we met in Alaska who live in the Calgary area.

Some of the wildlife in Jasper National Park.

     We had a great visit with Bryce.  It was a wonderful way to end our 5 month Alaska journey.  Now we are on our way back to the lower 48.



  1. What a great way to wrap up your Alaskan adventure! So cool that Bryce was able to fly up and see you guys.


Post a Comment