The drive from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway was incredibly stunning. The Icefields Parkway is a 232 km highway linking Lake Louise to Jasper that passes through incredible mountain views, renowned glaciers, winding rivers, bold coloured lakes, and panoramic valleys.
Steve and I started our Canadian Rockies trip in Banff where we stayed for 2 nights before heading over to Jasper. It was mid October and there was plenty of snow on the mountains and on the ground.
In this post, I simply want to share photos of the stunning sceneries we came across on our journey to Jasper through the Icefields Parkway, as well as our first hike in Jasper National Park.
The first stop after departing Lake Louise was glacier-fed Peyto Lake. And yes, it was really this blue. No filters added at all! These photos were taken from the lookout area about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot. If you have the time and are up for it, consider hiking the Bow Summit Lookout (approximately 6km).
We drove by numerous glaciers along the way. Here are a few of them. The most prominent one was the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield. The crows in the area were also very large! The icefield and glacier tours at this time of year (Oct) were closed. But nonetheless, it was aweing just looking at these natural structures from afar!
Opal Hills Loop Trail
Located in the Maligne Lake area, the Opal Hills loop trail is an 8.2 km trail with about 460m of elevation gain. It was rated as difficult by Parks Canada. We embarked on this hike underestimating the winter conditions. The trail started off with a decent amount of snow (nothing our hiking cleats couldn’t handle), but a quarter into the hike, fresh hard snow was really starting to accumulate. By the time we got to the top of the mountain on the exposed portion, the snow was knee deep (well at least for me). We actually ended turning around at the half-way point and going back the way we came from instead of continuing the loop. Hiking through unshoveled or unwalked hard snow was really tiring and the insides of our hiking boots were starting have warm puddles of water. Despite our struggles, the winter scenery was gorgeous. Our footprints and footprints of what we think belong to an elk, were the only prints present in the snow.
The first quarter of the hike…
snow getting deeper and deeper…
the half-way point… (ie. the point I wanted to pass out…)
We briefly stopped by Maligne Lake after the Opal Hills Loop hike. The area was so still and quiet. The reflection of the sky and mountains on the water was breathtaking.
Just some more photos taken in the Icefields Parkway…
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