Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 02 Apr, 2011
Jasper's little heritage train station sees a veritable onslaught of trains, at least by Canadian standards, in the summer high season. Seeing the magnificence of the Rockies by train is certainly an attractive option and considering that the whole area was originally opened to visitors…Read More
Jasper's little heritage train station sees a veritable onslaught of trains, at least by Canadian standards, in the summer high season. Seeing the magnificence of the Rockies by train is certainly an attractive option and considering that the whole area was originally opened to visitors thanks to the development of the railways, and that tourism goes back hundred and fifty years around here, a time honoured one. The main train service that passes through Jasper is the flagship service of the ViaRail Canada, the passenger operation of Canada National – or rather, what's left of it – The Canadian. This long-distance train runs three times a week between Toronto and Vancouver all year round. The train going west leaves Jasper at 1.30pm, to arrive at Valemount at 4.07 (Pacific Time), Blue River 6.27pm, Clearwater 8.44pm and Kamloops North at 11.09pm. This is a great ride through a very picturesque part of the Rockies – taking in Mount Robson – and one of the best ways to taste the railways-in-the-Rockies experience. The other way round might be even better, as the train leaves Kamloops at 6.35 in the morning, so the whole ride is pretty much in the daylight – unless you are travelling in the depths of the winter – and in fact you can go most of the way to Edmonton in the daylight, if you fancy seeing some of the prairies too. In addition to The Canadian, Jasper is also a stop on some of the Rocky Mountaineer excursion routes, namely the Whistler – Quesnel – Jasper trip and the Vancouver – Kamloops – Jasper trip. These are "attraction" trains, with no pretence to be a means of travel for any other purpose than pure tourism, and have to be seen as train tours. The trains stop overnight, and hotel accommodation is included. This has a major advantage (no loss of sightseeing opportunities), but makes the whole package massively more expensive than just taking a Via Rail train. Frankly, if I considered taking one of the Rocky Mountaineer packages, I would go for one that incorporates Banff and Calgary, as there is no Via Rail trains on that route at all. Of two that call at Jasper, the Whistler one is both more attractive and cheaper, starting at around 800 CAD for two days on the train and one night accommodation. Comparable Via Rail ticket costs around 150 CAD – this would leave you with more than enough for any hotel stays. Even in a sleeper class, which also includes meals, Via Rail is less then 500 CAD. A less known but potentially fascinating alternative or extension is a Via Rail train to Prince George and Prince Rupert. This also runs three times a week, but unlike The Canadian, doesn't offer a sleeper accommodation, instead having an overnight layover in Prince George. This route takes you at first through some very attractive stretches of the Rockies, including the Yellowhead Pass and Mount Robson, to then continue through pretty wild country towards the north of BC. In the summer, it's possible to catch a daytime BC Ferries boat in Prince Rupert and come back down the glorious Inside Passage to Port Hardy at the northern top of Vancouver island. Prices on this route start at around 120 CAD, which makes it excellent value (but you need to include a accommodation in Prince George). It is also possible to take a shorter trip from Jasper and stop and turn round - provided you have some form of transport ready, or accommodation to wait for the return train next day – at one of many stops between Jasper and Prince George. Most of them are request stops and need advance notification. Close
We board The Canadian for the last stretch of our cross-continent journey on a bautiful spring day in Jasper. We are going to Kamloops, nine hour away in British Columbia. The train ride from Jasper to Kamloops is another highly scenic stretch. The route climbs…Read More
We board The Canadian for the last stretch of our cross-continent journey on a bautiful spring day in Jasper. We are going to Kamloops, nine hour away in British Columbia. The train ride from Jasper to Kamloops is another highly scenic stretch. The route climbs up quickly to the Yellowhead Pass, which is not only the the border between Alberta and British Columbia but also mark the change of time from the Mountain to the Pacific zone. The Pass, at 1,110 m, is one of the lowest points on the Great Divide. From then on it's all, at least figuratively, west and downhill. In reality, it's actually more south then west. Jasper marked the northernmost point of our whole Canadian route, quite surprisingly as both Cote Nord in Quebec and Sioux Lookout in north-western Onatrio actually felt much more northern. The character of the train itself is different now. We left The Canadian at Saskatoon as our route took us to Calgary and the train goes via Edmonton ; we rejoined it in Jasper having missed the Saskatoon – Edmonton – Jasper sections. It's much more of a day excursion train now, with three seating carriages instead of one it had when we travelled on it between Toronto and Saskatoon. Many people in the economy class joined the train in Edmonton or Jasper, while those who have been travelling coach since the beginning are tired and a bit worse for wear, after three nights and two days on board. It is also more crowded, and there isn't enough room in the Dome observation car for all that want to sit there. Most of the time we stay in our seats, where large panoramic windows give plenty of visibility – as long as you are on the right side of the train. The train does continue west for about fifty miles from Jasper, past more of the Rocky Mountain magnificence, and it passes close to the highest mountain in the Rockies - 3,954 meters (over 13,000 feet) - Mount Robson. It's an easily recognizable, imposing dome of rock, high enough to create its own weather system. The top is frequently veiled in the cloud but appears for us, somewhat ghostly, from behind the mist. We pass small mountain settlements, often not more than logging and fishing camps, of which Valemont is the most significant – with barely 1,000 population. Valemont marks the meeting point of the Rocky, Caribou, Monashee and Selkirk mountains. The views are still pretty good, with Pyramid Falls near Blue River particularly impressive but only briefly visible to the side of the track and many lakes and streams between the railway and the towering mountains. For the last section of the journey to Kamloops the train follows the course of the Thompson River, and there is much marshy wetland. I am certain I spotted a moose in one of the watery glades, but as it remained pretty immobile, it was hard to be sure. It gets dark a couple of hours before we arrive, and it's close to midnight when we disembark at Kamloops North – one of those train stations, located like airports, on the very periphery of a city, which kind of defies one of the main points of travelling by train which is to arrive and depart in the centre. We manage to organise a cab and soon we are on the way to our Kamloops host. Close
Written by Idler on 16 Aug, 2005
Most visitors to Banff and Jasper National Parks learn that striking color of the lakes and rivers comes from fine particles of glacial silt suspended in the water that absorb all colors from incoming sunlight except green and blue, causing the striking turquoise color…Read More
Most visitors to Banff and Jasper National Parks learn that striking color of the lakes and rivers comes from fine particles of glacial silt suspended in the water that absorb all colors from incoming sunlight except green and blue, causing the striking turquoise color the lakes are famous for.
However, glacier-fed lakes are also dauntingly cold. Amazingly, there’s a perverse subset of people who enjoy plunging into frigid waters – the members of Polar Bear clubs, for example, not to mention those folk from northern climes who enjoy beating each other with birch boughs in the sauna prior to dashing outside to roll in the snow.
On this latest vacation, much to my dismay, I learned I’d been harboring one of these deviants in the bosom of my very own family.
The first indication of my son Greg’s hyperborean tendencies came during an excursion to Miette Hot Springs near Jasper. I’d never been to a hot springs before, but the idea was quite appealing after several days of hiking. Each of the hot spring’s outdoor pools is maintained at a different temperature. Two were hot – one uncomfortably so, I thought. After a Goldilocks moment in the hottest pool, I settled comfortably in the moderately warm pool, taking my cue from the clusters of middle-aged Europeans congregating there.
Soon, however, I noted members of one group urging one another to jump in the frigid "plunge pool," the ringleader being a burly fellow with perhaps an unfair natural advantage by virtue of his ursine pelt of chest and back hair. He stood in the shallows extolling the virtues of the invigorating plunge, and soon, others farther down in the pecking order were shamed into joining him. I noted none of them stayed in very long, however.
This display of thermal one-upmanship soon caught Greg’s attention. By then, he was glowing a bright lobster red from prolonged immersion in the hottest pool, so I could understand the appeal of a quick dip in the plunge pool. But when he proceeded to go back and forth between the hot and cold pools, barely acclimating to one before jumping in the other, I felt compelled to call out a motherly entreaty. Once Greg hit high school, however, he became selectively deaf, and now neither the length nor intensity of my nagging seems to have any effect on him.
Our next aquatic foray once again ended up with Greg splashing happily in freezing waters. At the end of our rafting trip, along a placid stretch of river, one of the guides jocularly remarked that we were welcome to take a dip if we wanted. Greg, taking this invitation at face value, threw himself backward from the side of the raft, looking for the entire world like an outsized seal swimming alongside in his black wetsuit. Luckily, I’d had the motherly foresight to bring along an extra set of his clothes.
At some undefined point in parenthood a curious apathy sets in. Nowadays, I feel little more than ineffectual witness to my son’s development and can only wonder at his ever-shifting tastes. However, some of his enthusiasms have remained constant, such as a fondness for climbing. When one of our rafting guides mentioned a nearby swimming hole featuring a jump from a cliff off into a deep lake, Greg pricked up his ears and began a relentless campaign to drive out to this spot.
Jack, who harbors latent daredevil tendencies himself, was also intrigued by the idea. Reluctantly, I agreed we’d check out the swimming hole at Horseshoe Lake the following day.
That evening, we drove out to Old Fort Point to watch the Rafting Olympics, a yearly competition among the local rafting companies. In its 11th year, it’s a big event for the locals, who gather in droves along the river starting at around 7pm. Not long after arriving, we heard a commotion: "Here they come!" The first event was a sprint from Alpine Village down to the bridge. Eight tightly-grouped rafts had rounded a corner upstream and were paddling madly for the finish line.
Much high-fiving took place when the winning team reached shore, followed by a long spell of milling around before the next event. Five events comprise this rafting pentathlon: a sprint, raft flipping, slalom, a rescue, and, last but not least, a beer-chugging competition at a local bar.
Next up was the raft-flipping competition. On a signal from the starter, each crew raced from the riverbank into the shallows, jumping in and paddling madly for the center of the river. Each crew readied itself by strategically placing the strongest members who would flip the raft. The goal was to flip the raft, then immediately right it and get all members of the team back into the boat with their paddles held aloft in the least amount of time.
We cheered lustily as the team from Whitewater Rafting Jasper, Ltd., the company we’d rafted with earlier in the day, readied themselves on the bank. The defending champs had their game faces on, with one guide sporting a Mohawk and another clenching a rope in her teeth. Seconds after racing from the bank, they flipped and righted their raft with amazing speed. They performed the next event, the slalom, in impressive style as well. For this event, teams had to paddle upstream against a very strong current, the object being to paddle around – but not touch – a paddle suspended a few feet above the river’s surface from the center of the bridge.
This seemed the most technically difficult and physically taxing event. As side currents were weaker than the center currents, the teams hugging the bank longer set themselves up better for the final haul toward the center of the river. Regardless of approach, however, rounding the paddle placed in the center of the river involved a sheer test of strength.
Unfortunately, it was well past 8pm when this event ended, and the sun was rapidly sinking behind the mountains. We’d been going all day fueled by a few measly snacks. It was tempting to stay to witness the final event, but our stomachs were growling in protest, so we reluctantly left. (We later learned that the team we’d been rooting for came in third among the eight teams.)
The following day we drove out to Horseshoe Lake. While I observed from a comfortable nearby log, Jack and Greg clambered up a cliff jutting over the lake. It was scant reassurance that the cliffs were thronged with teenage boys showing off to girls watching nearby. The boys launched themselves from ledges on the cliffs, landing with impressive cannonballs and skin-bruising belly flops. In Darwinian terms, this activity would be categorized as a "self-culling the gene pool." Teenagers, however, have another term for it: "fun."
It wasn't the cliff’s height so much as the iciness of the water that was daunting. Once the initial shock of jumping in the water had passed, the usual reaction was to swim frantically for the exit point at the base of the cliffs, which took 2 or 3 minutes. Emerging dripping from the water, swimmers stood shivering and blue-lipped for a few moments, arms clasped across their chests.
Greg and Jack watched this procedure a bit before beginning their ascent. The cliffs offered leaping points from various heights. Jack took up a supervisory position as Greg readied himself on one of the lower ledges. He stood there indecisively for a few moments, until a boy some 15 feet higher up on the cliff made an impressive leap. That did the trick – Greg leapt feet-first.
What seemed like an eternity, but was no more than 2 seconds, passed before his head broke the surface of the water. Greg gave a yelp halfway between triumph and physical protest, then made a great show of swimming very casually to the base of the cliff. He was clearly freezing when he finally emerged from the water, but stood there with an nonchalant appraising look watching the next round of jumpers.
Going a bit higher up the cliff with each jump, Greg finally braved the highest point some 30 feet above the lake. By this time, Jack had gotten into the act, too. I’d relaxed sufficiently not to hold my breath each time I watched them preparing to jump. The novelty of the experience was obviously wearing off for them, however, and soon Jack began toweling off and putting on his shoes. Die-hard Greg made one final leap before we departed for the benefit of a group of Australians who had just arrived on the scene.
As we started back to the car, the bellwether Australian had waded into the shallows and was encouraging her friends to, "Come on in. It’s lovely!" A few moments later, we heard a splash followed by an indignant howl: "It’s bloody freezing!"
Without a doubt, Jasper offers some of the finest hiking in Canada, much of it close to the town and surprisingly accessible. From easy strolls to downhill scrambles, the trails we explored provided some of the most memorable moments of our trip. Route…Read More
Without a doubt, Jasper offers some of the finest hiking in Canada, much of it close to the town and surprisingly accessible. From easy strolls to downhill scrambles, the trails we explored provided some of the most memorable moments of our trip. Route markers provided by local clubs and trail stewards also make it relatively easy to navigate Jasper’s interconnecting trails.
Maligne Lake Trail
Maligne (pronounced "ma-LEAN") Lake is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies, and the backdrop of snow-capped mountains reflected in its crystalline waters is surely one of the most-photographed views in the park. Busloads of tourists decamp at the visitor center near the northern end of the lake and mill about the dock waiting to board boats out to Spirit Island. We opted to hike, rather than cruise, after reading about the trails near the 14km-long lake.
Just steps from the main parking lot is the trailhead for the Maligne Lake Loop (also known as the Mary Schäffer Loop), an easy 3.2km trail skirting the lake’s shoreline for about a kilometer before turning inland through lichen-clad stands of spruce, pine, and fir. The trail passes a good example of a glacial "kettle," an enormous depression formed when blocks of buried glacial ice melted. Anyone wishing a more challenging hike can branch off near the kettle onto the 8.2km Opal Hills Loop, which sets off toward majestic Opal Peak.
Before beginning the trail, we stopped at Curly Phillip’s Boathouse, built in 1927 and still renting canoes, rowboats, and kayaks. Our son, Greg, is less a hiking than a kayaking enthusiast, so after setting him up with a kayak and gear and extracting a promise that he’d be back in an hour, we parted ways. We had some qualms about letting him go off on his own, but with the lake dotted with canoes, kayaks, and excursion boats, it seemed help would not be far off if anything went amiss.
After our easy 1-hour hike, we came back to the boathouse at the appointed time, but Greg was nowhere to be seen. I wasn’t particularly worried at first, as the boy seems to have inherited his father’s unreliable time sense, but after 20, 30, and then 40 minutes passed, I became quite alarmed. Just about when I was ready to send out a search party, we spotted a distant red speck approaching, which slowly proved to be Greg in his red kayak. Relief! My ensuing parental lecture was countered with many exasperated protests that I was a worry-wart, but I got my point across – and he paid for the extra rental time out of his own pocket.
Medicine Lake and the South Boundary Trail to Beaver Lake
Medicine Lake does a baffling disappearing act every year. Drained by an enormous underground system of caves, the lake goes from brimming with snow melt in the spring to a near-dry lakebed by the fall. Native people thought that spirits were responsible for the lake’s annual fluctuations, considering it "spirit medicine" – hence the name.
We’d passed this intriguing lake en route to Maligne Lake and resolved to find a hike nearby. The South Boundary Trail, with its trailhead near the southern end of Medicine Lake, provided an excuse to explore the shores of Medicine Lake a bit before parking at nearby Beaver Lake picnic area and heading down the trail. We didn’t see a soul for the 2 or 3kms we followed the path, which ran along a level fire road.
As it was in the early evening and we were becoming mosquito bait, we didn’t progress much past Beaver Lake; however, the trail continues for some 12km to Jacques Lake before connecting with other long-distance trails. The bites we sustained during the short hike were worth it, though, for the views of the saw-tooth ridges of the Queen Elizabeth Range towering over the forested valley. I’d definitely consider coming back to do the 12km hike to Jacques Lake, perhaps as an overnight backpacking trip.
Old Fort Point
When I told a friendly shopkeeper that we were heading out to Old Fort Point, she beamed and remarked, "That’s where we locals take our evening constitutional." Minutes outside the town, this is indeed a popular spot, with stairs ascending to an overlook providing grand 360-degree views of the Athabasca River, Jasper town site, and the surrounding mountains. There seems to be no "fort," however – merely the broad overlook.
Though the Old Fort Point trail is regarded as an easy one, we managed to turn this innocuous hike into one of the more grueling treks of the summer. Rather than simply going up the clearly signposted steps to the summit, we decided to take a less direct route around the back and then up from behind the overlook. Normally this should take about an hour, but we managed to squeeze it into a mere two and a half…. with difficulty.
We started out well enough, following a 3km trail up around to the broad overlook, where we gaped at the gorgeous views before deciding it was time to head back down. Following what seemed to be a well-worn path down, we figured we’d soon be back at the car.
View from Old Fort Point
A few hundred yards along, the broad path suddenly became a very narrow trail. After engaging in one of those pointless, "Are you sure this is the way?" queries that ended in one party becoming huffy that his sense of direction was being called into question, we continued down this far-from-casual downhill path. Fifteen minutes later, I repeated the query piu forte, asserting that we couldn’t possibly be on a "real" trail. The path-blazer ahead countered that it couldn’t be all that much farther, could it? It was impossible to tell – below us lay a thick screen of trees.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a complete wuss when it comes to climbing downhill. Going uphill, I soldier on just fine, but when I get to the top and realize I have to get back down – well, that’s when I set up a prolonged whine about how steep it looks.
This particular stretch, which I’m pretty sure was a wildlife trail, involved descending a steep bank of crumbling scree punctuated by intermittent sharp boulders, with the odd hand-hold or two provided by unreliable-looking saplings. In a fine snit at having been led down THE WRONG WAY, I plopped down at one particularly steep juncture and began what soon became a well-practiced butt-slide down the mountain.
About the time I’d become one with the scenery in terms of an even coating of dirt, we reached the beginning of the trail we’d so innocently set out on several hours earlier. Staggering back to the car, I resolved next time to just go for the obvious approach, as another "constitutional" like that would surely do me in.
Maligne Canyon Trail
Many people visit this impressive canyon by hiking down a trail from a parking lot. It leads to several bridges spanning a narrow, deep cleft cut by the fast-flowing river. Visitors can peer down into the impressive 50m-deep canyon with its vertical moss-clad limestone walls and dense mist rising from the raging torrent. To simply get a quick view of the canyon, it’s easiest to park at the upper end of the canyon and walk down this short trail. However, a more pleasing approach to the canyon is by hiking a trail that begins at the end of the canyon and follows the river upstream, starting at Sixth Bridge, a round-trip hike of around 7.5km. Few visitors hike the entire canyon trail, which is shame, as this is one of the nicest hikes in Jasper.
I’m a sucker for trails that follow alongside water, whether it be a raging river or a gentle brook. The Maligne River is a fast-moving beauty, the green-blue water diverted by massive boulders and rugged rock outcroppings. The trail starts level with the river, but soon rises above it as the canyon deepens and the trail rises with the canyon’s ledge. Fenced overlooks are set up at several natural promontories commanding sweeping views of the river and canyon.
During the last kilometer before turning around, we had obviously entered the range of the visitors descending from the parking lot. Crowds congregate at several bridges spanning the deep gorge, with some video enthusiasts leaning far out to get a better camera angle, a dangerous move given that several people end up falling into the canyon every year. To our amazement, we saw a well-dressed couple – the woman in heels, no less -- coming down the steep, rocky path pushing a large baby carriage. Quite a bumpy ride for junior, I’d imagine.
Maligne Canyon is connected by a system of caves to Medicine Lake. Looking at the water tumbling through the canyon, I couldn’t help but think of the inexorably decreasing lake some 15km away.
Written by annekmadison on 19 Nov, 2000
Toronto to Jasper by Train
We knew that VIA Rail's transcontinental train, The Canadian, would carry us from Toronto to Jasper in three days and two nights. We didn’t know that, with its Silver and Blue service, it would also transport us back in time to…Read More
Toronto to Jasper by Train
We knew that VIA Rail's transcontinental train, The Canadian, would carry us from Toronto to Jasper in three days and two nights. We didn’t know that, with its Silver and Blue service, it would also transport us back in time to an era of unhurried leisure, delicious food, gracious service, and pleasant conversation.
The train’s sleeper-class service includes a comfortable sleeping compartment, elegant meals, and a seat in the observation car. Each three sleepers is served by a dining/observation car, so we never felt crowded. The cars are beautifully-restored 1950’s vintage 'streamliners,' and they’re luxurious by comparison with Amtrak accommodations. Our compartment included two comfortable chairs, a sink and toilet, and a tiny closet. The picture-window was perfect for gawking and gazing, and during the day we were seated in two comfortable armchairs. The shower at the end of the corridor was shared with other passengers in our car. It was large enough to move around in easily, and we never found availability to be a problem.
We were fortunate to be near the rear of the train with easy access to the Park Car. This classic railway car, with its wide, rounded sweep of windows, is a monument to the glory days of train travel. It includes three sections: An upper-deck observation area with panoramic windows, a small downstairs bar and smoking lounge (the Mural Lounge), and a Bullet Lounge to the rear, furnished with comfortable chairs, tables, and couches.
The dining car also provided a gracious view of the past. One can only speak in clichés about the crisply-pressed linen, the comfortable chairs, and the lovely etched-glass panels placed at each end of the car. The meals featured a variety of choices. Breakfast catered both to the bacon-and-egg crowd and to the bagel-and-juice lovers among us. Lunch included a variety of soups, sandwiches, salads, and pastas, hot and cold. Dinner was a more full-dress affair with soup, salad, main course, and dessert. Diners had a variety of main dishes to choose from. And though we’re not wine buffs and can’t comment on the adequacy of the wine list, we were always able to find something we could enjoy with our dinner.
The train traveled through a diversity of scenery. Only a couple of hours past our departure from Toronto, we found ourselves surrounded by the starkly beautiful forests of Ontario. The land seems wild and remote, its beauty enhanced by rocky gorges and the flash of hundreds of lakes, large and small. Our trip through Ontario was enhanced by two stops. On the evening of Day 1, we stopped at Capreol, Ontario where we enjoyed a twenty-minute opportunity for sunshine and fresh air. On the morning of Day 2, we stopped at Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Our conductor was full of knowledge about the interesting history of this area, which is sacred to the Ojibwa people. We learned that they defeated their enemies, the Lakota, in a decisive battle near the spot where the train stopped.
Our arrival at the edge of the prairie seemed sudden; one minute we were in the woods, the next we had arrived on a typical scene of endless black fields just beginning to turn green under their new crop of wheat. We’d been warned that this part of the trip would be monotonous, but instead we found it pleasant and restful. By the evening of Day 2, we had arrived in Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba, for an hour-long stop and crew change. This provided ample time to admire the beaux-arts train station and to visit Winnipeg’s riverfront mall, adjacent to the train station.
When we awoke on Day 3, we had arrived in Alberta. The land took on a more rolling character, and we looked out onto an open range inhabited by cattle. At mid-morning, we stopped in the suburban station at Edmonton just long enough to glimpse the city’s skyline in the distance. As we left Edmonton we began to watch eagerly for our first glimpse of the Rockies, which we began to see at lunchtime. As the train left the town of Hinton, we began to climb, and we were soon surrounded by the mountains. Glimpses of wildlife abounded as we entered Jasper National Park.
In addition to watching the passing landscapes, we enjoyed getting to know our fellow-passengers. Each breakfast, lunch, and dinner seating gave us the opportunity to talk with new people. Although videos were provided for us in the evenings in the Mural Lounge, we found it much more enjoyable just to sit and talk with our new acquaintances.
When we returned from the Park Car each evening, our chairs had disappeared and our berths were made up and turned down for us. Time to gaze awhile at the moonlit landscape flashing by and drift off to sleep, rocked by the movement of the train.
IF YOU PLAN THIS TRIP: Reserve early. Trains fill up fast. You can arrange to break your journey into several parts, stopping for a while at each place. Accommodations also include single rooms, berths (an economical alternative), and regular rail service. Check for off-season, senior, and other possible discounts. Pack a small bag with your needs for the trip; you’ll be reunited with your luggage at your destination. The VIA website is a goldmine of information: www.viarail.ca
Written by jemery on 16 Sep, 2001
Rafting operators boast a variety of rivers and routes suitable for everyone from beginner to fast-water expert: ‘Anyone over seven years old,’ one brochure proclaimed. Indeed, the flotilla of rafts that swept by me during my walk along the Athabasca River contained a…Read More
Rafting operators boast a variety of rivers and routes suitable for everyone from beginner to fast-water expert: ‘Anyone over seven years old,’ one brochure proclaimed. Indeed, the flotilla of rafts that swept by me during my walk along the Athabasca River contained a least a few children. They were moving fast enough to give them a thrill, but over relatively smooth water. Further upstream, higher in the mountains, the river appeared to be considerably more challenging; from our vantage point on the Icefield Parkway, we looked down at some fairly spectacular rapids.
According to the brochures, the rafting companies usually provide life vests, wet suits and other necessary equipment, plus transportation from the Jasper visitor center or your hotel.
Maligne Lake Tour
Long, slender Maligne (Mah-LEEN) Lake lies near the foot of 11,380-foot Mt. Brazeau, about 40 miles southeast of Jasper, and is the source of the underground river whose canyon we visited earlier in this journal. Many of our group went there the next morning for a boat ride and on-board lunch, and described it as a very pleasant and lovely lake and, altogether, a worthwhile half-day excursion.
Chateau Lake Louise
So great is the lure of the Banff/Lake Louise area that some of our group opted to miss the Sno-Coach icefield tour and, instead, drive the full length of the Icefield Parkway for lunch at the legendary Chateau Lake Louise. This was another crown jewel in the collection of ultra-luxe hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to lure affluent tourists to its passenger trains, joining such classics as Quebec’s Chateau Frontenac and Toronto’s Royal York.
A travel group I belong to had its inaugural banquet here in 1987 --- and the photo I shot from the lawn in front of the main dining room is still one of my all-time travel favorites. I stayed behind this time --- didn’t want to miss the icefield tour --- but those who had lunch there this year highly recommended it.
The ideal tour of Rocky Mountain Alberta would probably be to visit BOTH Lake Louise and Jasper, with a trip over the Icefield Parkway and Sno-Coach cruise in between.
For a more comprehensive look at Jasper’s recreational opportunities, including the nearby Marmot Basin ski area, try this website:
For a great description of the aforementioned aerial tram ride (the one I missed), see an earlier journal by guide annekmadision.