Exploring the Icefields Parkway – Alberta, Canada

Traveling to Calgary, particularly Banff and Lake Louise, has always been a dream of mine. Anyone who’s ever seen photos of this destination understands exactly what I’m talking about.  The soaring Canadian Rocky Mountains with their steep slopes and jagged edges, the greens and blues of the lakes and rivers!  Please see below. Photo credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

 

That said, the photos I share now may not have many vibrant blue or green shades.  Instead of visiting during the summer when the colors are most vibrant, we chose to travel during Spring Break, when lakes were frozen, and many feet of snow covered the ground.  It was a white winter wonderland, completely gorgeous.

2019 Canada Icefields Parkway Glaciers 3 WM

2019 Canada Icefields 7 WM

One of the top activities on our list was exploring the Icefields Parkway, a long stretch of road that offers breathtaking views of mountains, glaciers, emerald blue lakes, dense forests of pine trees, cascading waterfalls, hiking, and so much more during the warmer months.  We debated wandering into this area during the winter, because we weren’t sure if we would be able to see much more than snow and ice.

Additionally, road conditions can be dangerous, depending on the weather.  However, it was difficult being so close to that much beauty, and not making an attempt to explore, so off we went.  We knew we could always turn back, if necessary.  Best decision we could have made!  The first things that captured our attention were the soaring mountains and icy blue glaciers cascading down sheer stone walls.

2019 Canada Icefields Pkwy 1 WM

Below are two of almost a hundred glaciers found throughout the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper.  The scope and magnitude of the Canadian Rockies, especially through this stunning stretch of land is overwhelming.  The beauty rivals destinations like Patagonia and New Zealand.

2019 Canada Icefields Parkway Glaciers 2 WM

2019 Canada Icefields 9 WM

Around every bend and turn were more majestic mountain views, forcing us to pull over way too many times.  Because the weather had warmed up to the 50s, we found many thawed rivers and streams meandering through freshly fallen snow.

2019 Canada Icefields Parkway Stream 4 WM

2019 Canada Icefields 8 WM

The landscapes we encountered were exceptionally unique and we often found ourselves enjoying complete solitude, as there were very few drivers sharing the road with us. 2019 Canada Icefields Parkway Tree 5 WM

There are so many more photos I could share, as I could hardly put my camera down, but I’ll stop for now.  Just a few quick tips:

Snow Tires:  Use/Rent a vehicle with snow tires or chains.  You never know when you’ll need them and you may be stopped and turned back without them.

Road Report:  Check the Icefields Parkway Road Report or consult with your resort, which should also have updated information, though keep in mind that without cell service, it’s difficult to get up to the minute information.

Extra Time:  Give yourself a lot of extra time.  This is not only for weather related issues, but honestly, you’ll want to stop around almost every other bend to enjoy the views.

Gas:  Make sure your vehicle is completely full of gas, as there are no stations along the way.

Food:  Also make sure you have a lot of food with you, as there are no restaurants available during the winter.  It would also come in handy if you are delayed for any reason.

I hope to return one day to enjoy the summer/fall months, as I can only imagine the beauty of hiking into these mountains. Until then…enjoy!

 

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