Walking on the glacier at Columbia Icefields.

Exploring the Canadian Rockies: Jasper National Park

Aug 24, 2014 - Carlos

Continuing the Canadian Rockies saga, we spent three days in Jasper National Park for more mountains, lakes, wildlife and my first camping experience! The five hour drive from Calgary was smooth and very scenic. On the way, we stopped by a few lakes and viewpoints in the mountains to appreciate the landscape and take a few pictures.

Athabasca Falls and Town of Jasper

One of the first stops was Athabasca Falls, a small waterfall in terms of height, but impressively forceful due to the large amounts of water that flow through. Throughout the centuries, it has carved different pathways in the canyon.

View of the Athabasca Falls.
View of the Athabasca Falls.

Next, we headed to the Town of Jasper, a small but cute town nestled within the mountains, home to more than 4000 people as well as the commercial center of Jasper National Park. We wandered about the local shops and stores, and although it didn’t take us long to walk the entire length of the town, I was incredibly surprised that I could find anything that I could think of, even a totem!

Totem in the Town of Jasper.
Totem in the Town of Jasper.

Camping

We camped for two nights, each night at a different campsite in Jasper National Park. This was my first time camping and I must say it was a tiring but fun experience. I was a complete amateur at chopping wood and making fire on the first night – we needed some help from our neighbors. However, I learned pretty quickly, and by the second night I was much better. It was pretty rewarding to grill the burgers and roast the marshmallows (my first time having s’mores!).

Grilling sausages on the campgrounds.
Grilling sausages on the campgrounds.

Maligne Lake

On the second day, we headed to Maligne Lake. It is world-famous for Spirit Island, a small tied island that became famous after a photograph featuring it was displayed in Grand Central Station for a Kodak campaign. One of the easiest ways to get to Spirit Island is taking a 90min boat tour around the lake. The entire ride was so scenic and breathtaking that it almost made me want to paddle my own canoe (a four hour journey) so that I could enjoy the view for longer.

Boat ride on Maligne Lake.
Boat ride on Maligne Lake.

When we arrived at the island, we could see that it truly captures the spirit of the Canadian Rockies – a blue lake, lush green pine trees along the sides, beautiful rocky mountains covered with glacial ice in the background. There’s nothing like seeing untouched and preserved nature. I hope that everyone can experience a view like this at some point in their life.

Spirit Island.
Spirit Island.

Columbia Icefields / Skywalk

On the way back to Calgary, we stopped by Columbia Icefields where visitors are taken into the heart of a glacier! A custom-made Ice Explorer Bus took us over the lateral moraines and into the middle of the icefield. From there, we could walk around a safe flattened area with views of ice formations and mountains surrounding us. The melting of the glacier creates little rivers and waterfalls running down the icy surface, which visitors often drink and bottle to take home. It was definitely one of the freshest waters I’ve had in my entire life!

View of the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields.
View of the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields.

 

Walking on the glacier at Columbia Icefields.
Walking on the glacier at Columbia Icefields.

Last but not least was the Glacier Skywalk, a nearby attraction that recently opened in May of this year. It is a massive glass-floor structure hanging off of the mountains, 280m above ground level. Walking on the overhanging part of the Skywalk, we had a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, while the glass floor reveals the deep valley below. It is quite the engineering spectacle, and the views were pretty amazing, if not a little bit scary because you can see exactly how far down you could fall.

Walking on the glass floor of Skywalk.
Walking on the glass floor of Skywalk.

This wraps up my posts in Canada! Much to come regarding our adventures in Asia.