We picked up our grandson early Monday morning, hooked up Maxx, and headed out of town. Our first day included stops for ice cream, lunch along the river and an evening wandering around the campground in Golden, B.C..
Yesterday we pulled out early and headed toward Jasper, Alberta. Along the way we made a quick stop at a Parks Canada office to pick up our Parks Canada Discovery Pass for $136.40. The Discovery Pass allows entry into most national parks in Canada and, according to the website, you are getting a deal because the pass will be valid for two years instead of one, as a special bonus to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. However it turns out you are still only getting a one year pass because in 2017 all National Parks in Canada will have free entry, so really we didn’t get a deal!
With our park pass in hand we turned up the Icefield Parkway for a very scenic drive to Jasper, Alberta.
The first part of the drive is smooth pavement but the road does get a little rough further on. We think we will make this drive again next year without Maxx because, while there are many places to pull over and admire the scenery, most of them are not big rig friendly, especially during the busy summer months.
Along the way we made a stop at the Columbia Icefield, located in the Canadian Rockies on the Continental Divide along the border of British Columbia and Alberta. The Icefield is located partly in Banff National Park and partly in Jasper National Park and was formed during the Great Glaciation during 238,000 to 126,000 BC. It is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies with up to seven metres of snowfall every year. Since more snow falls in a year than can melt during the summer season, it accumulates, transforms into ice, begins to flow outward through gaps in the mountains surrounding the icefield and creates tongues of ice called glaciers.
We visited the Athabasca Glacier, which creeps forward at the rate of several centimeters per day and flows down the valley like a frozen, slow-moving river and yet it is still receding. Over the last 125 years the Athabasca Glacier has lost half it’s volume and has retreated more than 1.5 kms.
You can walk up to the toe of the glacier, which we did, or you can take a bus up onto the glacier. The walk to the toe is a steep climb at high altitude but probably manageable for most people. We were going to take the bus out onto the glacier but after checking the price, $80.00 per adult and $40.00 per child, and overhearing that it was just a bus ride out onto the glacier and five minutes to walk around beside the bus, we decided to pass.
After leaving the icefield we headed onto Jasper where we camped at Wapiti Campground in Jasper National Park. We ended our day with a hot dog and marshmallow roast and entertaining stories around the campfire.
Until next time …