Icefields Parkway & the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
The Drive Along the Icefields Parkway
slang when I say, "you aint seen nothing yet "until you
have motored along The
Icefields Parkway, sometimes referred to as "the wonder trail"
and one of the most scenic mountain routes in the world stretching from
Banff to Jasper in the heart of the Alberta Rockies.
As we drove along this incredible parkway I wondered how it felt during
the height of the economic depression in 1931 to have been employed as
part of a relief project, and paid the paltry sum of twenty cents a day
to use picks, shovels, horses and a few tractors to construct a single
lane gravel road extending 143 miles through some of the roughest terrain
in Canada. It took nine years to finally open this highway that today
is one of the most popular and scenic in Alberta, and which over a million
people drive on each year.
Driving through the snow -capped parkway requires a special pass, as its
primary objective was and still is to provide a scenic drive and not a
transportation corridor. In fact, you will not see any large trucks on
the road, although you will see many tour buses, RVs, cyclists, and if
you are fortunate much wildlife. After all it is their home you are entering
and it is not uncommon to come across over two hundred and fifty species
of birds, grizzlies, black bears, coyotes, wolves, elk, deer, mountain
goats, bighorn sheep and many others wandering around the glacier-fed
rivers, flowing streams, thundering waterfalls, or near lakes, rivers
and valleys. They may even be taking a leisurely walk along the parkway
so be very careful if you do come in contact with these animals and remember
to stay a fair distance away. If you are driving this parkway during the
winter months beware that this is avalanche territory and from time to
time the roads are closed.
The name Icefields Parkway is very appropriate, as you will be able to
view the seven mesmerizing icefields or large upland glaciers and approximately
twenty- five small ones dating back to the ice age.
wont want to miss the most famous destination along the parkway,
the one hundred and twenty five square mile ice cap known as the Columbia
Icefield -one of the largest accumulations of ice south of the Arctic
Circle, and a remnant of the huge icefields that at one time covered Alberta.It
is this glacier that feeds rivers flowing into the Atlantic, Pacific and
Favorite stopping points along the way, and ones we enjoyed and strongly
recommend are: Bow Summit that is the highest point along the parkway
and probably provides you with the one of the most magnificent mountain
panoramas in the world, Peyto
Falls, Hector Lake, where you will discover a typical lake formed
in a glacial basin, Upper Waterfowl Lake, Weeping Wall, and Hector Lake,
where you will discover a typical lake formed in a glacial basin. The
highlight of our drive was experiencing the Ice
Explorer Ride or "snocoach" that brought us up to the surface
of the Athabasca Glacier.
At one time the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield formed an
enormous ice sheet carving the landforms of the Rocky Mountains. As our
driver guide informed us, today this glacier moves at a pace of two inches
a day or fifty feet a year down the mountain valley.
The "snocoach" vehicles with their huge wheels are able to ride
the surface of a glacier, and trust me when I say it is quite a thrill
to ride on the surface. These tours are open from the beginning of May
You can also experience the glacier on foot; however, it is highly recommended
that you do so with an experienced guide, otherwise you may find yourself
falling into a crevice.
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