Canada is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year and providing free passes to all their national parks. We ordered ours in advance and waited anxiously for months to use it. Jasper is first up and our first stop in Alberta. I’m so very far behind on the blog, so keep in mind it’s October when I’m writing this, but we visited at the end of August.
The end of our drive on the Alcan, but normally you stop here at the beginning. Dawson Creek is home to the iconic sign that everyone making the Alaska trek has to photograph. Seemed silly to do it on the way out, but that’s just the way our travels went. We didn’t actually catch up to the Alaska Highway until the Yukon on the way in, so this was our chance to drive the first half of the famous road. Can’t say we drove every mile of it since we took that Tumbler Ridge side trip, but close enough for us.
Dawson Creek also had Mary Brown’s Chicken across the street from the sign. Normally I wouldn’t talk about random regional fast food joints, but this one had chicken breaded like my mom’s. I hadn’t tasted anything so close to her famous fried chicken since she made it for me over 10 years ago. Funny how a smell or a taste will just take you back.
Wild Rose Country
Alberta is our second Canadian province and the stops included Grand Prairie and Grande Cache. We’re making tracks at this point since we have reservations in Jasper followed by Banff and they were hard to come by. These are pretty popular places to visit in the summer and seem to be akin to visiting Yellowstone in the lower 48. Lunch stops were still required and the one almost to our destination was at Berland River. Nice river view at the turnout and we took a stroll with Jackson. Getting down the riverbank was ok, but up required a butt shove from Pat. No photos please!
We could only get 3 nights in Jasper, but it required moving to a new site every day. A drag, but worth it. We ended up shortening the stay to two nights. Definitely a place that deserves much longer and we’ll surely be back.
Only two nights means we have to be out and about from the moment the wheels stop rolling. We settle in at Whister’s Campground and head on over to the Jasper Sky Tram for a trip up to the top of Whistler Mountain.
Simply gorgeous view atop Whistler and a few teensy people to give you a sense of scale.
Pat has a little fun at the top
The Sky Tram in Jasper is the highest and longest in Canada with spectacular views. We were able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Robson, highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, in the distance. The tram operator said it’s only visible from that spot about once a month. It’s been particularly elusive this season due to all the smoke from the BC wildfires.
The Canada parks also have these red chair pairs positioned at particularly scenic spots in the hopes that you’ll take pictures and share them on social media. I’m going to post this on Facebook, so that’ll be my contribution. These chairs are at the “faux” summit which turned out to be just about right for us. The hike up from the tram station was quite steep and us oldies but goodies had to rest a few times on the way up. We didn’t want to get caught at the top in the dark, so didn’t venture up to the real summit. At least that’s what we’re going with.
A few more from the faux summit
Since we took one of the later tram rides up, we had the sunset on the mountain virtually all to ourselves. So beautiful.
Sunset on the mountain and the city of Jasper from the tram
We had one more full day in Jasper, so we opted for a day trip to Maligne (pronounced ma-LEEN) Lake. First up is a stop off at Maligne Canyon to marvel at the limestone walls and the unique path cut through the rock by the rushing water.
The tricky part to this view is walking over the extremely slippery rocks along the path. They are so smooth like glass and you have to really hang on to the fence rail. It’s probably impossible to do in the rain.
Next stop, Medicine Lake. This one drains completely dry every year like a bathtub. It’s not actually a lake, but rather a spot where the Maligne River backs up much like a slow drain would. After the rush of snowmelt is gone, the “lake” disappears. Also a shot here of the burned forest. There are a lot of old burns in this area. Finally a shot of the road winding along the lake.
Remember my one wish in Canada was to see a Royal Canadian Mountie in uniform and preferably on horseback? Well, the cafe at the lake had this fine gentleman pointing the way to the serving line. Figured I’d better take my picture with him just in case a real live one didn’t materialize. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about, but that’s for the Banff post.
The boat ride on the lake was just too tempting so we bought our tickets and dipped our feet in the cool lake water while we waited.
These people had the right idea paddling out on this lake. Nice of them to take out red canoes to contrast with the scenery.
And one of the most photographed views in the Canadian Rockies – Spirit Island. Simply gorgeous and the destination for the boat trip. Our guide told us that when Kodak came out with color film, they had a picture of Spirit Island in their ad hanging in Penn Station in NYC. I must have taken 30 pictures of this little island, ooh-ing and ah-ing over every one.
The drive back from Maligne Lake was a treat, too. Another look at the scenery from a different angle and a bonus black bear lumbering down the road. I drove right up beside him. He turned and looked at me as if to say “move along sister”. So I did.
They had me at the name. This restaurant was divine even if the name implies otherwise. Dinner after our big day out was fantastic and I enjoyed the El Diablo Chicken with the best guacamole I have EVER had. And that’s not just because I hadn’t had it in a while. Pat had the Malevolent Meatloaf made with buffalo, bacon and something else we can’t remember. Meatloaf is the one thing we haven’t made in the motorhome, so he orders it every chance he gets. If you are ever in Jasper, you must try Evil Dave’s!
Jasper was, in a word, stunning. We barely scratched the surface and it’s high on the list for another visit. I’ll leave you with a view from the back of the boat on the return trip. Can’t you just feel the wind in your hair?
Off we go to Banff. See you on the way!