From Banff to Jasper

My cousin and her husband came to visit from Ohio.  They wanted to see ‘the most beautiful highway in the world’.  Not that I’m touting my own horn, but if they didn’t mention it I wouldn’t have known of such a claim.  That’s the stretch of roadway from Banff north to Jasper National Park here in Alberta.  Since I considered that part of the country my neck of the woods (relatively speaking), I was glad to take to the road with them as a guide.  Yes, I admit beauty may be subjective, but I’m sure you’ll agree these are some of the most extraordinary sights one can behold.

Canmore, Alberta, is the gateway to Banff National Park.  This little town hosted some of the ’88 Winter Olympics events at its Nordic Centre.  Here’s a view of the nearby Three Sisters Mountain at dusk when we arrived:


From Canmore we headed to Banff National Park the next morning.  Despite the commercialized Banff Avenue, we could still get close to the wild near the Bow River. Elkie was so busy munching his lunch that he seemed oblivious to his human intruders:



From Banff, we continued on the Trans Canada Highway to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. If you happen to have an old Canadian twenty-dollar bill, take a look at the back of it.  Here’s the real thing, Moraine Lake:


From Moraine Lake, we headed north on highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, towards Jasper National Park. This stretch of the road offered some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world.

Bow Lake at the bottom of glaciated mountains.  The beautiful emerald color is the result of rock flour, moraines grounded to fine powder suspended in the water:


The Clark’s Nutcracker is a common bird in the area, among wildflowers by the glacier water:





The serene Waterfowl Lake:


After a couple of hours drive, we entered Jasper National Park.  The major attraction as soon as we entered was the Columbia Icefields, the largest body of ice in the Rocky Mountains.  It spans 325 sq. km (130 sq. miles),  with an estimated depth of 365 m. (1,200 ft.)  Elevation averages 3,000 m. (10,000 ft.)

Mount Andromeda:


The Athabasca Glacier spans an area of 6 sq. km (2.5 sq. mi), with a depth of 90 – 300 m. (270 – 1000 ft.) Its elevation about 2700 m (8900 ft).  Yes, there we were, in the middle of August in our summer clothes, thousands of feet above sea level, walking on the remnant of the last ice age over 10,000 years ago.  Here’s the magnificent view:


That was only the entrance of Jasper National Park, but more than we could fathom for our short excursion.


Header Picture:  Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

All photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects August, 2009.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

17 thoughts on “From Banff to Jasper”

  1. Arti, your world is beautiful! What a wonderful journey, and such glorious vistas. To see all that ice from the perspective of a Houston summer is… well, to want to be there right NOW!

    Is that velvet I see on the elk’s antlers? I can’t quite tell. It seems a little late in the year for it, but I can only judge by the way things happen around here. It’s a beautiful animal.

    Whenever I see mountains and water together I get serious wanderlust. I can’t think of anything better than a cabin at the edge of a lake with a mountain to look at. Some day I’m going to have to make the trek northwest. Thanks so much for the wonderful enticement.


    Yes, that’s what I saw: velvet on Elkie’s antlers… and they were just beautiful!

    It’s interesting that you mentioned ‘your world’. That prompted me to check: Even though the distance between Houston and Calgary is 1,760 miles, there’s direct flight between the two cities. And, there’s a bilateral agreement in place for economic enhancement of the two due to their common economic base of oil and gas. Just a little short of being called ‘sister city’.

    But their natural environments are two ends of the spectrum!



  2. Wow, Breath taking beauty, wonderful description , felt like I was visiting those gorgeous places. One day I hope to take a trip with my friends from Houston and Kent. You are living in a heavenly place. Thanks for posting those professional shots so all of us can enjoy them too.

    P Mohan,

    Yes, the trip gave me an ‘out-of-this-world’ feeling. And we’d just touched the surface. And yes, it sure is a blessing to be able to go back so easily to re-visit and explore further. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!



  3. You are making me Very Very Homesick. I long to return to Alberta, the Canadian Rockies and this part the world is by far the BEST I’ve seen all these years.

    Heaven On Earth all year round.
    For those that haven’t been to Banff & Jasper, it’s a must!

    Come and experience the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies!

    Thanks for those great pics and your write up. I am so very homesick, my heart actually aches!

    Molly Mavis,

    Sorry to make your heart ache. But I’m sure you know the cure. What I haven’t mentioned though is the road construction in certain sections, which can be a bit taxing.



  4. Breathtaking! I love the color of those glacial lakes; is unlike any other. Loved the elk also, and the mountains….

    How lucky you are to live in the midst (or close) of such beauty. Thank you so much for sharing it!


    Yes, the water of these glacier lakes has that opaque emerald color due to rock flour, moraines grounded into powder as the glaciers moved. They are so picturesque, the lake, the mountains and the sky, different shades of turquoise and blue. It’s really my pleasure to share them. Thank you for joining my ‘virtual tour’.



  5. Thanks for the postcard tour! Gave my travel bugs a stir. I have been to Vancouver 5 times in the past 20 years, never ventured out of BC. Perhaps I should next time?


    You really should come to Alberta the next time you’re visiting Canada from England. I’d be happy to be your guide and driver. Here’s just a little taste of what the real thing is like. Thanks for your comment!



  6. I’ll bear this in mind! I couldn’t have asked for a more learned guide for the journey, both to Banff and the land of art and culture.

    Thank YOU!


    Driving, yes… learned… umm, there’s always travel brochures and Google.



  7. super cool! my parents came back refreshed and excited to show us all the pictures. thanks for being such and awesome guide for them and showing them a wonderful time!

    hi michelle,

    It sure beats going to the gym… and the pleasure’s all mine. Next time, come with your parents and discover why they look so different every time they come here. Thanks for stopping by!



  8. Incredible. I’ve always wanted to trek that part of the world. How fortunate you are. That Mount Andromeda! Wow. I imagine the the air must be pristine.


    The air and the sights. My cousin noticed right away the cool, fresh air that smell of pines. We see snow here in Calgary all the time in the winter, but not the scenic sights of glaciated lakes and mountains. It sure is a blessing to just drive a few hours and I’m there.



  9. Lovely photos – just found you via via via….lovely to meet you Lx


    Thanks for stumbling upon my blog and leaving your comment. You have a great blog there yourself. I look forward to some mutual visiting!



  10. so glad to see your post. these pictures are gorgeous and crystal clear. I can just about smell the fresh air – they are so pristine. What a wonderful trip. I saw only some of this. Is it crazy to think you must spend tons of time outdoors? Ill be back to this entry, every time I need a breath of fresh air. I gotta say, though, all of this area is nearly like a best-kept secret!


    No… I just like to think I spend tons of time outdoors. But the next time I get out there again, I’d like to do some hiking on the mountain trails. They are well designed for hikers to immerse themselves in the scenery. I’d also like to spend a couple of days at the Lodge by Bow Lake too. And you’re right, I think this is some sort of a well-kept secret, even though we have tourists from all over the world. I don’t mind keeping it more or less unspoiled and pristine for just a while longer.



  11. Ooh, I do like your colour scheme, Arti 🙂 And the views of your neck o’ the woods is spectacular! If I had to show you a “beautiful highway” in my neck of the woods (or concrete, as the case may be), it would be an open freeway with 8 lanes and no cars 😉 But not nearly as picturesque! Your shots of the elk are terrific — he must have been either oblivious or very comfortable with you and your camera! I didn’t realize how close you were to these National parks.


    Yes, Elkie must be so used to humans that he just didn’t bother… kept eating his lunch for more than the half hour we were there, not just us, but a few others too. Despite having a digital Nikon SLR in my home, I still use my pocket Panasonic for all these pics. Thanks for visiting!



  12. Yes Arti, sure beats going to the gym, ditto from my husband. Next time you’ll have to do the teahouse, I bet there’s more jewels to be found up there…By the way your pictures are spectacular and the captions informative, thanks for another entertaining post :]

    I look forward to next time. The tea house and the trails along the lakes definitely. We were blessed to have such wonderful weather… it’s 11C now and raining, overnight low 5C.

    Thanks for coming all the way to visit!



  13. Hi Arti,
    You showed up as a related post on my blog. I made the trip in 1979 from California to Boston, going through Jasper and Banff along the way, a perfectly breathtaking detour, I must say.

    My pictures are 30 years old and some haven’t held up too well, but scanning and showing them is something I’ve wanted to do these past 3 decades. I also didn’t take really great notes of locations. If you can help me out, I’d be really happy to hear from you.

    Loved your crisp and clear shots. Just consider mine “historical” in nature.


    I’d be glad to take a look at ‘historic’ Banff and Jasper. Could you leave me a link to your blog so I can see your pictures?



  14. I’m sorry… I forgot!

    Now I’m really confused. It looks like an email came in with a different answer from you sounding like you’d found your way to my site:

    (Can you tell I’m new at this?)

    Thanks for the compliments. I just wish I’d taken better care of the slides. That was a truly wonderful trip. Great memories. Almost tempts me to try to do it again!

    Yes. that was me. I was able to find a link to your blog from my ‘Blog Stats’. Your pictures are wonderful but sorry I can’t help you more with identifying them.



  15. Great photos. I had the pleasure of cycling that route from Jasper to Banff in the summer of 1987. We stayed at youth hostels or camped every night, but after one day where we were snowed on going up the pass, we splurged on a room at a very rustic but comfortable lodge by a lake a few miles from the Athabasca glacier. Wonderful trip.

    ian in hamburg,

    Whenever I drive on the highway by the Rockies and see cyclists along the way, I always admire their courage. Must be so physically demanding and take such a bold, adventurous spirit to do that. I’m sure the experience they gather is one that I would never know.

    I’ve lived in Alberta for almost four decades now, and have driven on the highway to Banff and Lake Louise numerous times. Every time I go out there, it’s a new scenery for me.

    I’m glad my posts can bring back some fond memories for you. Thanks for visiting… and anytime you feel that nostalgic sentiment, stop by again!



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