Canadian Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Canadian Rocky Mountains and Beyond
Millions of years ago dinosaurs roamed Eastern Alberta, in an area known as the Canadian Badlands near Drumheller where the prairie gives way to the canyons. Along the 29-mile drive is Horseshoe Canyon, a u-shaped canyon carved by glaciers which show the eroded layers of sandstone, mud, coal, and clay. North on highway 838 is Horsethief Canyon which outlaws used as a hideout in the coulees between the rock walls and the view of the valley from the overlook is spectacular. South of Drumheller on highway 10 is the Hoodoo trail, where one can see up close where the erosion of sandstone and limestone created impressive chimneys of rock formations. At the end of the dinosaur trail is the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, the most efficient coal mine in Canada and the last standing wooden tipple.
Just a couple of blocks from downtown Calgary is Fort Calgary, which has a long and rich story to tell. The building of the fort in 1875 was the birth of a new city. The museum displays artifacts which tells the story of the cities start to where it is today.
The Canadian Rocky Mountains have four National Parks that will sweep one away with non-stop beauty. Jasper and Banff are on the Western side of Alberta while Kootenay and Yoho are on the Eastern side of British Columbia.
Right through the heart of Banff and Jasper National Parks is the backbone of the Canadian Rockies, The Icefield Parkway, rich in history and natural beauty. The parkway links Lake Louise and Jasper Alberta and stretches for 232 km (143 miles) along the continental divide through soaring Rocky Mountain Peaks, Icefields, Cascading Waterfalls, Turquoise Lakes, and vast sweeping valleys of thick pine forests. Not only is the parkway full of captivating landscape, but an ideal habitat for an abundance of wildlife which will keep one peering around each corner.
Taking the time to stop to do some of the short hiking trails will surely have one overcome with wonder, like the 100-yard stroll to Sunwapta Falls or the Athabasca Falls where there are several bridges to view the falls from. A 15 minute hike through a thick forest to the highest elevation on the parkway at 6,965 feet, will lead to where the landscape opens to beautiful Lake Peyto stretching across the valley floor with mountain peaks and glaciers as the backdrop, or the quarter mile stroll to Mistaya Canyon where the river has eroded limestone bedrock and created a narrow gorge. Places like the Columbia Icefields.62 mile hike up a steep grade puts one right at the foot of Athabasca Glacier. Without a doubt, for one to travel the Icefield Parkway is to experience one of Canada’s national treasures and most rewarding destinations.
What used to be an outpost at the end of the Canadian Pacific Railroad is today’s hamlet, Lake Louise now part of Banff National Park, rich in heritage and an awe-inspiring turquoise lake with Mount Victoria as a backdrop. With six glaciers feeding the lake which is better than 230 feet deep has created a delicate ecosystem. To really enjoy the views of the lake, one should do the hiking trail along the length of the lake. At the end of the lake, the trail continues up the side of the mountain for great views of a water fall from glacier melt and the surrounding forest.
Located in Banff National Park is the Village of Banff, part of a world heritage site. Banff is a small resort town sitting amidst the Rocky Mountains where the peaks of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade blend in with the skyline. Throughout the village are chateau-style hotels mixed in with restaurants, souvenir shops, and boutiques. Around the outskirts of the village are several scenic drives through the park which leads to glowing turquoise lakes where an abundance of wildlife call home.
Kootenay National Park in Eastern British Columbia offers a wide array of scenic wonders, from hanging glaciers, mountain summits, marble canyons to natural hot mineral pools. With the Kootenay Parkway running right through the center of the park for 94 km (58 miles), many of the scenic attractions is only a short walk from the highway. The one-hour drive will allow one to discover a new surprise around every corner.
On the Western slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains is Yoho National Park, a park with dizzying mountain peaks, vertical rock walls and one of Canada’s tallest cascading waterfalls that will surely impress most anyone. A 10-minute walk through the forest leads to the base of the falls were the cool mist can be felt 50-yards out. This park provides a unique glimpse of Canada’s natural wonders. Right on the Trans-Canada Highway is Kicking Horse Pass, the highest point on the highway where one can stare down onto a spectacular mountain corridor.
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