Canada or Bust! (Jasper National Park)

Continuing our trip in Canada, we traveled from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park, along the Icefields Parkway, (Hwy 93).  Before embarking on this grand tour, I did a lot of research and made camping reservations for along the way.  Although I did pretty well in my planning, I was not prepared at the sheer distance between the parks.  It took about 4 hours to drive into Jasper, which looked like a mere hop, skip, and jump on the map.  We did not mind at all, however, because the drive was absolutely stunning and such a voyeur’s rush!  Along the route to Jasper, I viewed sharp granite peaks, endless valleys, huge glaciers, emerald blue lakes, swollen rushing rivers, beautiful lush green forests, and amazing forest animals, like bears, mountain sheep, and Canada geese.  I was as giddy as a young child going to Disneyland for the first time.  My eyes were in stimulation overload at the spectacular scenery of the Icefields Parkway.

The campground that we stayed was Whistlers Campground.  This was a wonderful campground! The sites were large and somewhat secluded.  It was a very foresty and quiet campground.  There were little hobbit trails throughout the camp to take easy and enjoyable strolls through.  The amenities were excellent (wash rooms, hot showers, playground, firewood for sale, interpretive walks, etc.). The best experience at this campground was the huge herd of elk that came to visit as the sun was setting…Absolutely awesome!!!

The town of Jasper is quite quaint, but teeming with people…Not as many as Banff, so it was very tolerable.  I must say that the Canadian people are very welcoming and truly appreciate the tourists.  I visited the Jasper Park Information Centre to ask questions about transportation to and from the Skyline Trail, because my son and I were going to backpack the 30 mile trail in a few days.  The ranger was very informative and answered all my questions thoroughly.  A couple of noteworthy restaurants were: Jasper Brewing Company, Bright Spot Family Restaurant, and Bear’s Paw Bakery.  I did not eat out much because I had an RV to cook my meals in, so these are definitely not an exhaustive list, but ones that I found very delicious!

We spent a couple of days exploring Jasper National Park.  We visited Athbasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Jasper Lake.  The falls were spectacular, with the stunning mountain backdrops, and the deep gorges forged by glaciers and the glacial river.  I was blown away by the sheer power of the rushing water!  The bridges and walkways were a little more extensive at Athbasca Falls, but both areas provided beautiful views of the forces of nature.

Jasper Lake was remarkable as well.  It is actually part of the Athbasca River.  We walked quite aways out and were only knee-high deep in the water.  Jasper Lake Sand Dunes is the only sand dune ecosystem found in the Canadian Rockies.  The dunes were formed during the last ice age, and have been reshaped by water and wind ever since.  The dunes provided a stark contrast to the Canadian Rockies, which surrounded them.  The lake acts like a sieve for the silt and sand that come off the dunes.  I guess that’s the reason it’s such a shallow lake.

Two other lakes we visited were Medicine and Maligne Lakes, along the scenic Maligne Lake Road.  Medicine Lake is a geologic anomaly, because it isn’t really a lake, but a huge drainage basin for the surrounding peaks and glaciers.  It is actually part of Maligne River, which flows from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River.  During the summer months, the “lake” fills with meltwater runoff, but slowly drains into aquifers, becoming a river with small pools.  The underground water system is one of the most extensive in the world.  Medicine lake is a gorgeous “lake” with quite a story behind it.

Medicine Lake


Maligne Lake is a resort and photographers paradise!  It is famous for the color of its water, the surrounding glaciated peaks, and Spirit Island.  It is coined as the largest glacial fed lake. Wildlife is abundant around the lake (bears, caribou, wolves, moose, mountain sheep, eagles, osprey, Canada geese, etc.). There are plenty of activities and services offered at the lake.  Shuttle buses are available from Jasper, and boat tours are also available that run to Spirit Island from spring to autumn.  There are boat and kayak rentals, as well as a gift shop and restaurant at the lake. There are two campgrounds available near the lake, Coronet Creek and Fishermen’s Bay Campgrounds. It would be very easy to spend a week at this lake just hiking, fishing, and boating.  Maligne Lake was one of my favorites in Jasper NP.  It’s another must visit attraction in Canada!

I could definitely live in Jasper…My kind of national park, quaint town, and mountainous topography.  The town and park have so much to offer, from spectacular scenery to activities that challenge anyone’s sense of adventure! We spent a week here, but I could spend a lifetime!!!  Canada please take me away! ❤   Happy Trails! ~Solo Yolo

Canada geese at Maligne Lake

To Do Canada

Jasper National Park (Plan your Visit)

Backcountry Camping Reservations

Athabasca Falls

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Accomodations

Maligne Lake (Attractions/Sightseeing)

Maligne Lake (Campgrounds/Hiking)

Medicine Lake


Canada or Bust! (Banff National Park)

I crossed over the border from Washington into British Columbia.  The Canadian border guards were very amiable and hospitable, more than I can say for the U.S. Border Patrol.  As I made my way east on the Trans Canada Highway, the scenery became more and more breathtaking.  The glaciated peaks of the Canadian Rockies should truly be one of the wonders of the world!  They are just amazingly beautiful.  No superlatives can do them justice! Needless to say, the long drive to Banff was extremely pleasurable and enjoyable.

I had planned to stay for the week at the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and meet my family there to do the tourist activities and get some day hikes in with them before heading to Jasper National Park to hike the Skyline Trail.  The campground was very clean and well-kept.  It was a beautiful campground.  The employees were very nice as were the other campers.  It was in close proximity to Banff and the main roads to other tourist attractions.  We had a very enjoyable experience there.  After we had left, some habitualized wolves threatened the campers in that area, and everyone had to be evacuated and moved to other camps, until the situation could be taken care of.  Scary experience for them, I’m sure.  I’m thankful we were in Jasper at the time.

The town of Banff was beautiful and quaint.  It was exactly how you envision an upscale small mountain town to be.  Way too many people for my taste, but a wonderful experience anyway.  Banff Brewery is definitely a must do, great beer and scrumptious poutine (gravy and cheese covered fries).  The Canadian food was very good, but for some reason they don’t cook Mexican food well, not surprising, but much to my dismay as it is one of my staple foods!

One of our first day hikes was to Bourgeau Lake, Banff National Park.  It was a wonderful short hike with sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountain summits.  It had a constant incline to the lake with the last 1/4 miles being quite steep and arduous.  No pain, no gain, right?!! On the route to the lake, there’s an refreshingly beautiful waterfall.  The trail is very well maintained.  Bourgeau Lake itself is a small, pristine sub-alpine like surrounded by stunning mountainous peaks.  From Bourgeau Lake, you can hike to “the notch” and see even more spectacular and sweeping vistas from Harvey Pass.  We opted to end our hike at the lake.  On our way down, we encountered a thunderstorm with loud thunder, crackling lightning, and pouring rain.  The sky opened up and it began hailing the size of jelly beans.  It was such an awesome sight, sound, and experience!  The trails became rivers…What a rush!

Another day, we took a bus and visited Lake Louise, Banff NP.  Lake Louise is one of the prettiest lakes I’ve ever seen.  The color of the water was a crystal blue and the mountains surrounding the lake were just as glorious.  We didn’t get a chance to have a drink and see the inside of the Fairmont Chateau, but it looked like a very luxurious hotel.  I don’t generally enjoy tourists attractions, and this was no exception.  It was very difficult to get even a picture of the lake without someone in the way, mass humanity.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait to leave, however for the scenery, it is certainly a must see location!

A fun side excursion we took was a whitewater rafting trip down the Kicking Horse River near the town of Golden.  We chose Hydra River Guides for this fun adventure…The trip was Class 1-3 rapids, but it was a blast nonetheless!  The rafting company was very well organized and safety was of prime concern.  The guides served a delicious hamburger and hot dog lunch after the rafting trip.  We thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and would definitely do it again, but with more dangerous rapids! WhooHoo!

Another awesome day hike we did was to Bow Glacier Falls, Banff NP. The hike commenced at Bow Lake (Num-Ti-Jah Lodge) along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Every step of the way was amazingly picturesque! You hike through diverse terrain, along a river, steep canyons, and surrounding glacial mountains, to the waterfalls emerging from the Bow Glacier.  From there, you are able to summit some of the peaks to provide even more dramatic and remarkable views.  It was a magnificent hike!

One last noteworthy place that we visited was the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier.  Again, a very touristy attraction and teeming with visitors, but a definite must do.  I am just constantly reminded at the awesome powers of nature, and this glacier just reemphazied that fact.  It is on the edge of Banff and Jasper National Parks.  There are several activities available here: Columbia Icefield Interpretive Center, bus tours, and icewalks on the glacier itself.  It is one of the most visited glaciers of the 100 glaciers in the national park.  I was amazed at all the cairns people made at the edge of the glacier…People are interesting to say the least! Haha! Overall, it was sure an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

The week that we spent in Banff National Park was nothing short of a trip of a lifetime.  I truly fell in love with Canada, especially the Canadian Rockies.  I will most certainly make several trips back to visit friends, ski, sight see, and most of all to hike.  If you’ve ever have the opportunity to visit Canada, make sure it’s one of your must-do bucket trips! You’ll never be the same once you visit the majesty of the Canadian Rockies!

Happy Trails! ~Solo Yolo

Bow Lake, Banff NP

Canadian National Parks Info/Wilderness Passes

Canadian Rockies Info

Camping in Canadian Rockies/Banff

Banff National Park Info

Top Hikes to do in Banff