Trip Pictures

Castle Mountain

Lake Louise

Banff

Bannf

Jasper

Athabasca Glacier

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

Tracy on the Skyline

Trail

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail

Marmot

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail

Little Shovel Pass

DSC01366

Tracy riding her first

horse

Jasper

Tracy @ Jasper

Wabasso Lake

Athabasca River

Athabasca River

Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Glacier

Jasper National Park

Banff Jasper National

Bow Lake

Bow Lake

Bow Lake

Bow Lake

Glacier

Bow Lake

Mitern Lake

Kootenay National Park

Grizzly bear

Grizzly bear

Banff/Jasper National Parks

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The first week of August 2013, Tracy and I went to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada

for vacation.  The basic plan was to drive all the way there from Salt Lake, and then drive

around the parks and do some day hiking and backpacking.  The drive up was uneventful,

other than the 40 minute wait to cross the border and the hour+ drive through rush hour in

Calgary.  We spent the first night in Banff, and the mountains were just beautiful.  The next day

we drove north into Banff.  Again, the mountains were incredible.  Lake Louise was a mad

house...about the most crowded I've ever seen a park.  So, needless to say, we didn't stay

there long.  We ended up driving on into Jasper, and hiking at Wilcox Pass across from

Athabasca Glacier.  The hike was nice, but it was also pretty crowded, and it rained on us

pretty hard on the hike.  We had planned to take the glacier tour at Athabasca, but when we

got there it looked a little silly to pay for the drive up, so we skipped that.  We then drove to

Jasper for the night.

The next day we drove out to Maligne Lake and explored around before the tour buses got

there.  We then drove out to the end of the Snaring Road east of Jasper and did some hiking.

This was really nice, because we finally got away from the crowds and just enjoyed being out

in the mountains.  We then drove back into town, got our permit for the next day's backpack,

and then headed out to the Wabasso Campground where we spent the night.

The next day we headed out to Maligne Lake to start our backpack on the Skyline Trail.  The

first several miles of the trail were pretty unspectacular.  The trail stayed in the forest as it

gradually climbed up to Little Shovel Pass, and the trail was really muddy, slowing us down as

we picked our way through the mud.  On the plus side, the climb up to the Pass was very

gradual and not at all steep.  Once up to the Pass, the trail became really pretty.  Above tree-

line the views were great.  The interesting thing about the views, though, were that it looked a

lot like Colorado.  While the valley where the road ran was crazy pretty and unique, once

behind the mountains overlooking the valleys, the mountains looked a lot like the Rockies in

Colorado.  But they were still really pretty.  We found our campsite at the Snowbowl campsite.

The campsites at the designated campground were not very good at all, but we were the first

ones there, so we got the most secluded one.  There were 7 or 8 sites, and they were pretty

much on top of each other.  Additionally, there was a pit toilet at the campground, but people

had still taken dumps near the sites and just left toilet paper on the ground.  Yeah, unpleasant

and makes me angry.  But the night went uneventfully, with no bear sightings or any problems.

The next day, we made the hike back out early in the morning, hoping to see some wildlife, but

we didn't see anything.  The rangers had told us there was a grizzly sighting at Little Shovel

Pass just to days earlier, but we didn't see anything.  We made our way into Jasper, and then

took a horse ride just outside of town.  This was the first time we had ever ridden horses, so

that was interesting.  We learned that it would take some acclimating to get used to riding

horses for too long, but it was fun doing it for the first time.  After that, we took a drive down to

Mt Robson Park where we were supposed to backpack for two nights the next day.  It rained

the while way down there, though, and when we got there the mountains seemed far less

spectacular than they were in Banff and Jasper.  Since we had just hiked so much in the trees,

and this hike was mostly in the trees, and it was raining so much, we began to think about

skipping this hike.  We were staying that night in Jasper, anyway, though, so we headed back

to Jasper for the night.

We got up the next morning and decided we didn't really feel like backpacking the two nights in

Mt Robson, so we skipped that hike.  Instead, we went hiking at Wabasso Lake, which was

nice because it wasn't crowded and it was a good hike.  From there, we headed to Yoho,

where we tried to camp, but couldn't find an open campground.  So we headed into Golden

and got a room.

The next day we drove down to Radium Hot Springs.  We explored around forest service

roads outside the parks, and I really enjoyed that.  We went to Mitern Lake and just sat on the

side of the lake reading for awhile.  This was really nice, because there was no one out there,

and it was just nice and relaxing.  From there, we headed on to Radium Hot Springs, where we

got a room, and then drove up into Kootenay and back into Banff.  While it was a long drive, I

wanted to see the area around Banff again since we had only been there the first day.  It was

pretty.  We also saw our first and only grizzly near the Kootenay/Banff border, so that was

cool.

The next day we started back to the U.S., but not before stopping by Fernie, which we both

really liked.  The town was surrounded by great mountains, and just an hour or so from the

border.  It took about an hour to get back into the country, after dealing with the unhappy

border guard.  From there, we drove into White Fish and drove up and over the Going to the

Sun Road in Glacier National Park.  We hadn't been on this entire road since our first time in

the Rockies about 16 years earlier, and we kept thinking in Banff and Jasper that Glacier was

evry bit as pretty.  I'm glad we made this drive, though, because it shattered our memory of

Glacier and made us realize that Banff and Jasper are prettier.  Glacier is pretty, of course, but

not as spectacular as Banff and Jasper.  We then spent the night in Kallispell.

The next day we got up and made a long, slow drive back home.  This part of Montana is

absolutely beautiful, and I would love to live in this area.  I found myself looking longingly up

into the Bob Marshal Wilderness, and thinking I'd like to figure out a way to packraft in those

mountains.  I need to get a packraft.  The drive home was long but uneventful.

This was a great trip.  The parks were MUCH more crowded than I expected, but the

mountains and lakes were beautiful.  We didn't see as much wildlife as I expected.  We went

earlier in the summer than I wanted because of work responsibilities, so it might be less

crowded and have more wildlife in early September, when I wanted to go.  I really liked

exploring outside the parks, because it reminded me that the mountains outside the parks are

often more enjoyable.  That having been said, the mountains outside the parks certainly

weren't as amazing, they were just more relaxing.  I would also really like to drive the Trans

Canada Highway someday...that looks fun on the map.  This was a great trip and definitely

enjoyable.