Part 2 Rocky Mountain High: Sunshine and Summer Snow in Jasper and Banff

The Road to Jasper

The next day after arriving in Banff we drove the trusty Honda up to Jasper leaving Debbie’s folks in Banff with the RV. It was a good thing we decided to leave when we did given what was to come a few days later weather wise. The drive from Banff to Jasper takes around 4 hours and is 288 kilometres. From Lake Louise to Jasper is 232 kilometers, the route follows the Icefields Parkway and the landscape is magnificent as well as the occasional beastie if your lucky.

The drive along the Icefields Parkway on a sunny day is breathtaking. We stopped many times for photo opportunities and to admire and soak in the spectacular scenery. On reaching the Columbia Icefield it was the jewel in the crown. The Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre lacked substance in terms of detailed information. The Centre seemed devoted to extracting money from your purse or wallet with its new attraction the Glacier Walkway. It seemed to work as people lined up to pay their $24.95 to do the walk. The walk itself is not actually near the Icefield but on the side of the road up the hill towards Jasper. I did not feel we missed much in not doing it and paying to just go over a cliff for the privilege of a 10 minute walk around from what we could see. The walk also was busy with lots of people on it. You also can do a range of other activities such as walk on the Icefield. We just liked admiring it from afar.

After the Icefield we drove on to Jasper and camped for the night. The cost for our tent was $28. We also had a delicious meal at the only Korean Restaurant in Jasper called Kimchi House Restaurant. We had the set meal for two which with tip came to $55. The town is quite small with the railway line running beside it and a lovely backdrop of mountains wherever you look.

Miette Hot Springs

The next day we decided to go to Miette Hot Springs stopping on the way to do a two-hour hike at Maligne Canyon. The walk is lovely but very busy with tour buses stopping every few minutes it seemed. However, we did the upper walk and came back along the canyon. Most people did not do this and just walked to the first or second bridge for a photo-op and then got back on their bus or RV. After the walk we drove on to Miette to soak in the hot pools which were very enjoyable. A decision was also made to get a cabin for the night which turned out a fortunate stroke of luck as the next morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. Staying at the Miette Hot Springs Resort was a well spent $106 and the restaurant had delicious food.

Return to Banff via Lake Louise

Going back to Banff was like chalk and cheese from when we drove through during sunshine and blue skies. The snow and mist obscured the mountains with occasional snow flurries making visibility a challenge. We did stop off at Lake Louise where Debbie took a photo of me in the mist. I have added an earlier photo from 2012 to show you the same spot on a summer day with clear skies.

Visit to Calgary

Due to a problem with getting the wrong advice on my US visa in the UK I had to visit the US Calgary Consulate to sort out the correct tourist visa. The appointment was on the day after Calgary had 10 inches of snow and we had no choice to drive to Calgary the next day in some atrocious conditions. We stayed at the lovely Gary and Sally’s house for two nights and Gary who is a retired coach was able to explain to me during an American Football Game some of its rules and intricacies which gave me a better appreciation for the game. It was also amusing to learn that the Canadian American Football has a bigger ball and bigger field. Next morning I had my interview at the US consulate which went well. The next day we returned to Banff for a few more days of enjoying the snow and improving weather.

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Banff

On our first day back in Banff we enjoyed a soak in the Banff hot springs and had a meal at Melissa’s Missteak Restaurant. We all had the Joe Burger and fries. Prior to the meal we had been lucky to see a herd of 19 female elk and a stag with 18 points near the golf course. The next day we visited the Cave and Basin Natural Historic site established in 1885 for several hours. This was the first national park in Canada. We took a guided tour and saw the underground cave source of the thermal waters and the tiny Physella johnsoni or better known as the Banff Springs Snail. There are also some lovely walks to enjoy around the site.

On our last day we had an early start and drove the Bow River Parkway to look for bears but had no luck. On arrival at Lake Louise we had lunch at the Bill Peyton’s Cafe/Youth Hostel. I recommend it if you are ever looking for a bite to eat in Lake Louise the food is delicious and not overpriced like many other places. Afterwards we went to Moraine lake and were rewarded with some stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. I would say Lake Moraine and the mountain backdrop is more spectacular than Lake Louise. After spending a few hours there we drove back to the campground and in the late afternoon we walked around the Banff Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds which was nice especially with the little snow still left on the ground.

The next day we headed into Calgary for an overnight stay at Gary and Sally’s parking the RV in the street. They treated us to a wonderful roast, salad, roast potatos and vegetables plus some delicious red wine to wash it all down. We even got to use their hot tub which was much appreciated. Our next stop is Lethbridge.

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