Tag Archives: Jasper National Park

A Walk Through The Forefield Of The Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, CanadaThe approach to the Saskatchewan Glacier at the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Lying almost on the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks alongside the highway that bears its name, the Columbia Icefields are the most visited attraction in Jasper National Park, and the second most trafficked destination in the Canadian Rockies, only bested by the more convenient Lake Louise.  Were it not for the distance involved in getting here, and the lack of a luxury hotel (though you can stay here in relatively basic but clean accommodations for upwards of $270/night in the high season and as little as $140/night in the low season), its visitation numbers might be higher.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Here you have access to the land above the trees, where you can pick over rocky scree slopes that were once previously glaciated, and feel the bone-chilling glacial water that populates the outlet rivers and lakes formed by the nearby Saskatchewan Glacier.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Walking along this relatively barren landscape, your mind shifts to the introspective aspects of its mission, evaluating one’s life to this point, and focusing on what one needs to do to advance to greater things in the future…

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Staring up at the ice that has accumulated over centuries and millennia of cold, snowy winters, one can’t help but be in awe of the chilled beauty that supplies that dry portions of the Canadian West with the water they need to survive from year to year, while providing them a legendary place to go and be at one with the wildness of nature.  All the more reasons to do what we can to reduce our impact on a warming climate to the lowest extent possible!

Ever been to the Columbia Icefield?  Have a humbling glacier in your backyard? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

The Tangle Falls Area: The Most Underrated Part Of Jasper National Park

The Columbia Icefield, located across from Tangle Falls

As you approach the southern border of Jasper National Park, the mountain scenery begins to get more epic.  After crossing the flood plain of the Sunwapta River near Beauty Creek, the road begins to climb towards the Columbia Icefields.  Before reaching this national park’s best-attended attraction, nature puts on a spectacle on the side of the road.

I’m not sure if parts of this are even accessible (the pull off from where I took the photo above) anymore without paying an admission fee to the newly constructed Skywalk (opening Spring 2014), but the views are no less stunning in spite of that.  Observe as the ice sheet of the Columbia Icefield spills over the side of the mountain plateau on which it sits.  Trips out onto the ice are available from guides in Jasper, but don’t attempt this yourself: guides have intimate knowledge of the crevasses that crisscross this area, which if fallen into can cost you your life.

Tangle Falls area, Jasper National Park, Canada

Views of the mountains are quite stunning in this area, so don’t be in a rush to get to your destinations further south: stay a while and breathe in the pine needle scented air and relax!

Tangle Falls

A little further down the road lies the lesser known Tangle Falls, despite being stationed at the side of one of Canada’s busiest tourist drives.  This beauty is just hiding in plain sight, begging you to come closer and experience its wild nature close up…

Afterward, it was time to leave and carry on down the Icefields Parkway to the next point of natural interest.  It was with some reluctance, though, as I was graced with this view as I made my way back to my oversized Dodge Grand Caravan…

Tangle Falls area, Jasper National Park, Canada

Ever been to Tangle Falls on your journey up/down the Icefields Parkway? What did you think?

In Motion: The Power Of Athabasca Falls In Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls In Jasper National Park is a sight that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated

After a fun-filled long weekend catching up with friends in Hinton and Jasper, Alberta, Canada, it was time to head back to the big city of Calgary.

The great thing about this is that the way back home traveled on one of the most beautiful drives on Earth, The Icefields Parkway.

One of the first major attraction of this scenic byway is the powerful Athabasca Falls, which inspires and humbles the soul all in one go.

It is a sight to be admired, but from a distance: many people over the years have slipped on the wet rocks and fell to their untimely deaths.

The water is ice-cold and the gorge produces a washing machine-like effect.  Appreciate this force of nature, but respect the barriers and don’t get too close!

If you can’t get away to the Canadian Rockies anytime soon, watch the video and feel the cool mist of this glacial river on your face…!

What is your favourite waterfall?  Feel free to link to your blog post on it, or anybody else’s in the comment section below!

Maligne Lake – The Hidden Gem Of The Canadian Rockies

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park CanadaMaligne Lake, as seen from a viewpoint on the Lakeshore Trail, in Jasper National Park

During my transformation from your average working man to a global and outdoor adventurer, I took a job driving boats and giving tours on Maligne Lake, located at the end of 55 kilometre dead end road in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. The nature of its location, away from the main tourist trail further south near Banff, and the journey to get there turns off most time-constrained or lazy travelers … that is their loss, as Maligne Lake is a place of raw beauty, of peace, and of abundant wildlife.

Those that plan ahead and make the trip are amply rewarded … this post will aim to get you to steer your sails in the direction of this emerald-green gem in Jasper’s crown, for she will seduce you with her beauty, leading to many returns in the future and rave reviews to family and friends!

Tour boats at Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Canada

After buying a ticket from the head office, stroll down the brick pathway and be boarded by very friendly and knowledgeable guides (many of which I know personally still at this time of writing!)  Take your seat aboard one of seven possible boats, all of which are heated, because it gets cold here …

Snow in July 2010, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Canada

… even in July (23 centimetres fell over two days in 2010 when this photo was taken)! Most of the time, the weather is quite enjoyable, if a bit brisk.  Maligne Lake is at 5,500 feet (1,700 metres) in elevation, so it is a hill station in terms of weather when you compare it to Jasper, as temperatures are 3-5 degrees cooler than in town.  Bring a hoodie or a coat, just in case.

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Canada

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Canada

The cruise takes you 14 kilometres down the 22 kilometres long lake, with ample vistas of towering snow-capped mountains everywhere you look, as the boat heads into a rare example of a box canyon (where a mountain range wraps around in a “U” shape) that has a lake in its core. The second photo above shows where our boats cannot go, as Parks Canada limits our operations as a compromise that keeps part of the lake away from the noise impact of our diesel motors.

Spirit Island Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwi_cam/

The destination of your journey is the world famous Spirit Island, which graces the desktop backgrounds of many computers around the world, and after Lake Louise is one of the images most strongly associated with the Canadian Rockies.  Which is amazing, considering how many fewer tourists make it up here compared to Lake Louise, but shhhhhh!  Don’t tell anybody else that, ok?  Don’t want to start a stampede or anything…

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Credit: http://www.whyvisitcanada.com/

If you have a canoe and some camping gear though, you can get a camping permit from Parks Canada and go back there yourself to Coronet Creek, where a backcountry campsite will have you leaving with the idea of what it truly feels like to be alone in an expansive wilderness, apart from all other influences of man!

Canoeing in Maligne Lake Jasper National Park

If you not up to the 22 kilometre in, 22 kilometre out epic paddling journey, you can still see a lot within the northern confines of the lake within an afternoon.  Rent a canoe, kayak or rowboat from the boathouse and explore numerous hidden coves and islands.  Don’t forget to take a rod and reel if you are a fisherman/woman (get a license from Parks first though) and stake out a hidden spot and pull in one of the many brook or rainbow trout in the lake – they were stocked in the lake many generation ago and have thrived since then!

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park

If you’re planning an itinerary to the Canadian Rockies, leaving this place off your list would be a sin.  Even you just hike around the head of the lake and have lunch at the cafe on-site, it will still make for a very memorable afternoon!

Have you ever been to Maligne Lake?  Feel free to share your stories below!

Back To The Canadian Rockies – Part 1: Miette Hot Springs

My beasty rental: getting lunch in Hinton before heading to the Miette Hot Springs in my Jeep Grand Cherokee

After several months of working hard at my day job after having moved back to Calgary, I was overdue for a trip to the mountains to rest and relax.  Before my last trip overseas, I had ditched my terminally ill Cavalier (RIP Blue Rocket 1999-2012), so I was without wheels.  What to do?  Rent one, of course!

Except for one little problem … reserving a car online doesn’t guarantee you the car you select, it’s only a preferred vehicle.  In other words, they give renters ahead of you whatever they request, and only hold what’s left over for you.

In my case, I wanted a Toyota Versa … I got a Dodge Grand Caravan.  A turbocharged beast with tonnes of space I didn’t need, and extra girth I had to account for when making turns and parking and such.

Had I encountered a situation where I had to make a tight maneuver, I would have risked damaging my tires. At least in the United Kingdom, I would have been able to use Tyre-Shopper.co.uk tyres to replace them without the rental company being the wiser.

Failing that,  National.co.uk tyres would have had exactly what I was looking for.

But I digress.

Good thing I had experience driving giant tour boats at Maligne Lake prior to this 😛

The Miette Hot Springs is is a pretty chill place

After dropping my bags at my friend Steph’s place and enjoying a wonderful evening catching up post-Maligne Lake (I was a tour guide there for three summers, hence the earlier remark about driving tour boats), I had a full day ahead of me.  The first place decided to drop in on was the Miette Hot Springs area.  Located an equal distance from the towns of Jasper and Hinton, it is a wonderful place to soak away an afternoon in 40c waters, all while admiring the scenery of the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, soaring thousands of feet above you.

The old pool complex at Miette Hot Springs

On this day, though, I intended to earn my time in the hot springs, as I set out on a hike down the trail that led to the source of the Miette Hot Springs.  The old bathhouse was in an even more starkly beautiful area than the current one, but overcrowding issues due to the popularity of the site, and natural erosion led to its closure in the mid-1980’s, and the opening of the current pools.

What remains today of the old bathhouse at the Miette Hot Springs

Still, it’s quite cool to have ruins of this nature in the middle of a narrow mountain valley!

Mountain stream, Miette Hot Springs

Mountain stream, Miette Hot Springs

The natural beauty of my surroundings just improved from there on, a glacially cold creek tumbling down the hanging valley from where it spawned, overlaying a source of water almost hot enough to scald at first touch.

Natural source of the Miette Hot Springs

You know when you’ve reached the source of the Miette Hot Springs.  Depending on the prevailing winds on the day that you stroll down the trail, you can smell it many hundreds of metres away.  The sulphur and calcium laced waters deposit their solid particles on the rocks over which it flows, creating a stone known as tufa.  Underground pipes carry the waters from this aquifer to the hot pools themselves back near the parking lot, which is where I headed with great anticipation, shortly after the shot I took above! 🙂

Bonfire with friends outside Hinton Alberta

After the day’s tramping and soaking had run their course, there was only one proper way to end an active day in the Canadian Rocky Mountains … have a bonfire and beers!  Heading out to a campsite with friends, meeting interesting new people and sitting by a bonfire that offset the chill of a high country evening was the perfect way to cap off my first day back in the mountains since I had lived there!

What would your perfect day in the Canadian Rockies look like?  Hash it out for us below!