Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drive down the Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, Canada


Drive down the Icefields Parkway – It is 100 km from Jasper to the Columbia Icefield and Icefield Centre at the Athabasca Glacier. We noticed in this area that the clouds build as the day goes on so we purposely choose a morning that was clear to take this drive to insure the views would be at there best. As luck had it, the day we picked was cloudless so the views were perfect. We started the trip traveling down Hwy93a. It’s a nice forested drive initially, then the mountain views begin. Hwy 93a is small and in the morning has very few cars so it would be a good place to see wildlife. At the end of Hwy 93a is Athabasca Falls where we stopped and viewed the falls along with all the bus tour groups. Beautiful falls and a must see even if it’s crowded. We then continued on the main highway through the parkway. With not a cloud in the sky we drove south and stopped at almost ever turn-out to view the glaciers, mountains and valleys. We finally stopped at the Icefields Center. We had our picnic lunch outside on their patio which faces the glacier field…what an amazing sight. The displays on the lower level are a must to understand and appreciate the history and geology of the area. We then loaded up the truck and headed back to Jasper. The whole trip took 5-6 hours round trip which includes spending 1-1.5 hours at the ice center.

Tips:
1) If you get to the ice center and the cafeteria is not busy, then take advantage of it for tour buses come in frequently and in an instant there are huge lines of people trying to get food.
2) Take the drive in the morning because it seems clouds build towards the afternoons.
3) Pack a lunch to along the way at the many picnic areas off the road or at the ice center. You can avoid the tour bus crowds altogether then.

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