Icefields Parkway

Day 10
Monday July 25th

Today were heading north again carrying on through the stretch known as Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. This part of the journey will be punctuated by frequent stops at waterfalls. It seems that whever we are in Canada there's always more than one of something to see, be it lakes, waterfalls, canyons or flat unending prarie. The scale is different to England and vast, at home we can travel 20 miles and be somewhere new, over here you have to travel for 2 days to reach a change in scenery.

Nigel creek

The first 30 miles we recounted our steps from yesterday apart from stopping at a river creek which I'd spied previously. Nigel creek was really no more than a parking spot for hikers setting out for a day 's journey so we admired the view and quickly moved on.

Tanglefoot falls

Past the glacier I knew there were two large falls to visit but out of the blue we came across a pile of people on the road and a parking area so I pulled in and went to see why.

Across the road were the Tangle Foot falls, not as large or impressive as the falls to come but more picturesque. The boys soon joined me and we scrambled up the sides to get closer whilst Jude, sparing her ankles, admired it from the road. One of the attractive qualities of these falls was that they were literally at the side of the road, in fact you had to stand in the middle of the highway to get a complete photo of them.

View from the road

Chris and David at the top

Sunwapta falls

Driving slowly to admire the scenery our next stop just before lunch was the Sunwapta falls a mile or so off the highway. There was an interesting looking cafe / gift shop at the junction so we visited the falls first to work up an appetite.

At the falls there were two trails we could trek, a 5 minute trail and a 20 minute trail. We started with the 5 minutes one which was only a few hundred yards; I reckon they meant 5 minute round trip. This led to a bridge crammed with people over a canyon almost above the main falls. The sound was incredible, the shear amount of water coming over the falls made anything else I'd seen pale into insignificance, it's impossible to convey the feeling , the power,the violence, the noise or the spray in a photo.

Upper falls and bridge

We then walked along the river bank and through the forest downstream to the lower falls. This was the 20 minute hike and therefore almost deserted. Just as impressive as the upper falls but without the crowds.

Back to the cafe on the highway for lunch and we discovered the Nanimo bar a chocolaty chewy scrumptious snack. As usual a large giftshop was attached again full of Indian artifacts.

Upper falls

Half way to lower falls

Lower falls

Smell it, feel it, hear it (oh you can't)

Athabasca falls

Our third falls of the day !

Carrying on north our next stop was the Athabasca falls on the Athabasca river which ran up the valley all the way from the glacier. There were two well constructed bridges over the gorge and a walk down the farside to the bottom of the canyon.

Again the noise and power of the falls was incredible.


Jasper was only a short journey from here, our B&B here wasn't it was a "B only" run by an Italian couple. It transpired that we should have gone to the landlords shop first to pay as they only accepted cash and I was trying to avoid using cash for large purchases as we were here three nights.

As previously we had the complete basement to ourselves, two bedrooms, bathroom and lounge with tv, microwave and fridge (but no kitchen sink to was things in). Cutlery and crockery were provided so we could make our own breakfast and evening meals. This meant that we needed food which up til now we hadn't bought.

We drove the 5 minutes into town to find the landlord, a supermarket and the tourist information office. The owner ran a gift shop so I could pay by credit card but he was slightly reluctant as he claimed people disowned the bill when they got home. Still he gave us a 10% discount card for his shop and another for a restaurant opposite.

We looked into the restaurant but even with 10% off it was more than we were willing to pay, prices in Jasper do seem higher than elsewhere. We tried to go to a Pizza Parlour but there was a sign on the door saying they had run out of pizzas! Instead we ended up at a local independent pizza shop which was much friendlier.

Back at the B & no B we slumped in front of the television marvelling at the lack of anything to watch on the 136 channels. The best we could find was a Dodgeball which I'd previously thought was a game made up for a film not a real life "sport".


Random scenery along the way


©2005 Rob Hayward