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Banff National Park, Icefields Parkway and Jasper National Park

July 29, 2013

Canada – Day 1 of the drive to Alaska – Thursday, July 18

I woke up this morning right on the edge of Glacier National Park with the pine trees and mountains for my morning view. I was able to get online for a few minutes at the campground and sent a few emails and a few texts before crossing into Canada, where I’ll be kind of out of touch for a few days without the use of my electronic gadgets! The campground also had a breakfast burrito booth, and I got the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had (not that I’ve had that many!) – that’ll keep me going for the day!

And then I set off – deliciously excited to start the long drive through Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon Territories toward Alaska. My guess was that it would take me about 3 days to get to the Alaska border. I’ve driven to Alaska once before, and ever since then, I’ve been wanting to drive there again, but taking slightly different routes. I tried to compare costs between driving vs flying, and I think expenses would be similar. If I flew, there would be the cost of the airline ticket, baggage fees, airport parking, car rental in Alaska (not cheap in the summer) and kennel expenses for Tula, which I really didn’t want to do, especially with her back on antibiotics. By driving I have the gas costs for 2000+ miles, and I already knew gas is more expensive in Canada, and motel/campground fees. The other benefit to driving is having all my stuff with me so I can camp, and save money on the high summer motel rates in Alaska – and I already knew I’d be camping at least a few nights. So my final thoughts were it might actually be cheaper to drive depending how many nights I camp.

I set off across the border into Alberta – the first, vivid thing that caught my eye were immense fields of something bright yellow. I have no idea what kind of crop it was, but with the sun so bright, and so many huge fields of all the yellow, it was almost too bright! I never did find out what it was. Alberta was rolling farmland and then I got to Calgary, and must have picked the slowest way possible through that city. I saw the Calgary Stampede grounds in the heart of town, and it seemed to take forever to get from one end of town to the other. Or perhaps I was just impatient to get to Banff National Park!

The last time I drove to Alaska, I came through Canada’s national parks from north to south as I drove back to Michigan. This time I wanted to drive through them from south to north. It was no accident I finished my Montana week where I did – I really wanted the excuse to drive through these parks again. And they did not disappoint. The Canadian Rockies are spectacular! Like I did in Glacier, I ended up making lots of stops and getting out to enjoy the views. They’re trying to reduce wildlife collisions and there were several “wild animal bridges” with lots of grass and trees (and some fencing to guide them onto the bridges instead of crossing the highway.) I’m curious how successful that is. There was lots of snow in the higher elevations and countless glaciers high up in the mountains. And then there were lakes here and there and the water was such a pretty icy blue-green color. Even after hours of driving in such splendor, it never gets old. Words and photos can’t do justice to the scenery. I felt lucky to be able to enjoy so much of it. As evening wore on, a bear crossed the road in front of me, and I slowed down and stopped as it climbed the hill next to the van, snacking on some grasses and shrub branches. Other cars then stopped and the bear ambled away into the hills.

I didn’t cover as many miles as I had expected to today because of all the glorious scenery, and it was getting late as I got to the north end of Jasper National Park. I saw a sign for a campground, and went to check it out, and once again I was lucky enough to get a campsite at a national park in the summer without a reservation. So Tula and I enjoyed another cozy night of camping. The mosquitoes were bad at the registration booth, but they weren’t as bad in the campground, and I can get things set up pretty fast. Nights get cool in the mountains, and I was happy for my heavy sweatshirt and sleeping bag and quilt – Tula even had a blanket tonight!





























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One Comment
  1. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures: some of them are truly breathtaking! I only wish that one day I have such an adventure! I totally get why you didn’t have enough time to cover as many miles as you had expected: because of that amazing scenery! All the best to you and thanks!

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