The Icefields Parkway

In the US, we celebrate the 4th of July as our National holiday, but in Canada, it’s called Canada Day and it’s on July 1st.  I knew from the last time that I was in Canada during that time, that there were several places I didn’t want to be, so off we went towards a favorite of mine … Jasper NP.  Since we had spent the night in Golden, it was pretty much a full day’s drive, especially since there are so many wonderful sights to see along the way.

So on to the Icefields Parkway we went.  One of the first places I wanted to visit was the infamous Peyto Lake.  You have to get there early if you don’t want to be crawling in the middle of tons of tourists, who emerge by the busloads.  When we reached the parking lot, we were greeted by several beautiful gray jays.  They were hopping around in the area and seemingly posing for the camera from time to time.

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At Bow Summit, Peyto Lake can be seen below where it sits at an elevation of 6,168 feet. It’s quite an amazing sight too, as it spans 1.75 mi long and 2,625 feet wide.  Though the most distinctive and striking attribute it possesses is its color – a bright turquoise color achieved by the glacial rock flour which remains suspended in its water during the summer months.  This is not photoshop-enhanced … it’s truly this beautiful.

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Once back out on the Icefields Parkway again, it doesn’t take long before we encounter our first bear, a black bear feeding on the green grasses not too far from the road.  It was drizzling a bit just prior to this shot, so this bear had fur full of detail._DSC7531

It never ceases to amaze me what people do when they spot wildlife … and it’s no different in Canada than in the US.  Sometimes common sense goes right out the window … or should I say the door … as they drop everything to try to get the best shot of the wildlife, sometimes endangering themselves and everyone else around them.  This bear was tolerating them, but I distinctly heard it huffing once or twice.

_DSC7572 At that point I told Tom that we should move on down the road, not wanting to watch any mayhem unfold.  🙂

Again, it wasn’t too long before we came upon another black bear, but by the time we got there safely, it had already begun to retreat into the brush a bit.  Probably a good thing.

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After entering Jasper NP, but still out of the township of Jasper, we came across Medicine Lake, which is quite the interesting place.  See, during the summer, the glacial melt fills up this lake, as seen below.

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But in the fall and winter seasons, the lake essentially disappears!  What’s more, at that time, there are no visible channels indicating the path of the drainage.  What happens is that the Maligne River pours into the lake and Medicine Lake drains out through sinkholes in the bottom of the lake.  The water then streams through an underground cave system and it surfaces again in Maligne Canyon.  This makes it one of the largest sinking rivers in the western hemispheres and possibly the largest inaccessible cave system in the world!  Now that’s impressive!

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Another impressive place to stop and visit along the way is the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, on the edge of Bow Lake.  Though we didn’t lodge there, we did take in the views from their parking lot.DSC_6355

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Yes, the approach to Jasper, Alberta and the heart of Jasper NP is a fascinating one!  There is “eye candy” from almost every angle, almost the entire way into town.

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One word of advice to all whom might venture there … don’t just fly by the seat of your pants like Tom & I did.  We arrived into Jasper, with no prior reservation – on the wave of Canada Day weekend – and almost had to turn around and head back to other areas.  Thankfully we did manage to find a last minute accommodation, but it was close!

Next blog will delve into Jasper NP and the wildlife that we encountered along the way.  Stay tuned!

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography (www.tnwaphotography.com)

 

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7 thoughts on “The Icefields Parkway

    • Thanks for the compliments. Most of the bear images are taken from the car … using it as a blind. We do once in a while get closer to the bears, but respect the bear’s personal space and tolerance. Also, we tend to let wildlife approach us – thus capturing a more natural behavior from any animal. I try to use the standard rule of “if an animal changes behavior”, then we’re too close and we need to retreat. 🙂 Keep in mind that we also use a long lens for closeness.

  1. Your next to the last photo, the mountains at right, dock at left, is superb. Wonderful composition, textures, lighting, mood – you have it all in this photo. Well done.

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