Heading Up the Icefields Parkway – June 2018

Note: There are more pictures at the bottom of the post after the daily log entries.

We left Lake Louise and headed up the Icefields Parkway, a roughly 140 mile road through the Canadian Rockies. The drive is jaw dropping gorgeous! Every mile features snow-covered mountains at this time of year. Add in glaciers, waterfalls, rivers and lakes along the way, and it’s a truly spectacular drive.

Ho hum. Just another mountain and lake along the Icefields Parkway.
Cruising along the Parkway

We had hoped to do a little hiking on our way to the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre (located roughly midway along the drive), but the spots we were thinking of were closed either for repair or due to bears and cubs needing space. But we stopped at most of the viewpoints that were open to enjoy the spectacular views. We met another couple from the RVing to Alaska 2018 group at our scenic lunch pull out. We talked a little and exchanged social cards and then continued on along the beautiful drive.

You can get a bus ride out onto the glacier. We had taken a six-hour ice walk the last time we were here, so felt no need to spend extra time or money this year.
The Glacier Skywalk, a short distance from the Icefield. There are plenty of (free) pull-outs to enjoy the views nearby, but standing over the canyon can be a thrill.

We made it to the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre where parking overnight without services is available in the rv parking lot. After we found a level enough spot to overnight (not easy), we went in to the Discovery Centre to get more information for hikes north off of the Parkway and in Jasper National Park. Then we went back down to the lot and visited with our new friends who had parked there too. They had been to Alaska before and had lots of information.

It may just be a parking lot, but it’s hard to beat the view if you stay overnight.

The night was quite cold since we were parked across the road from a glacier. Rain, sleet and snow pounded us all night long, and random wind gusts would hit us periodically. Fortunately, that all cleared up as night ended.

Tangle Falls
The river carved this small canyon before changing course. You can follow the path for beautiful views of the river below the Athabasca Falls.

In the morning, we headed off towards Jasper. Again, more jaw dropping scenery, lots of pullouts, and some spectacular waterfalls along this route. We stopped at Tangle Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. There’s a lot of water flowing over those falls at this time in spring making them wonderful sights to see. We explored some of the trails around Athabasca Falls and enjoyed getting more of a walk in before returning to the motorhome and rescuing the animals.


Athabasca Falls
Our first mountain goat of the trip posed beautifully for us while we lunched at a scenic pull-out.

We ended our drive at Wabasso campground, just south of Jasper, where we had made reservations a couple days earlier because Whistler did not have any electric sites left. While we didn’t cover a lot of miles over the last two days, we enjoyed being able to take our time, make frequent stops and soak in the beauty of the Parkway.

Day 15 (Day 9 in Canada)

Miles: 82*
Driving time: 2:15
Roads: Icefields Parkway
Road conditions: Fair to excellent
Overnight: Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre
Weather: Mostly cloudy (33/54)
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 579*
Total miles: 2,147*

Day 16 (day 10 in Canada)

Miles: 67*
Driving time: 2:00
Roads: Icefields Parkway
Road conditions: Fair to excellent
Overnight: Wabasso Campground, Jasper National Park
Weather: Partly sunny (33/66)
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 646*
Total miles: 2214*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle, mileage includes side trips.

The Parkway road conditions varied a lot, from brand new surfaces to motorhome-rattling washboard. They were working on the road in a number of areas, so hopefully they will get the worst sections resurfaced by the end of the summer.
Sunwapta Falls
Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls rainbow
The river below Athabasca Falls
The bridge above is one of several viewpoints for Athabasca Falls. The river is running through the current canyon that has been carved below the falls.
The Columbia Icefield. It is both interesting and scary to see how much it has retreated in the fifteen years since we were last here.
There are lots of pull-outs along the Parkway. While there were plenty of people traveling the Parkway, it was early enough in the season that we never had problems finding someplace to park, especially with our small motorhome.
Another pull-out, another view.

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