We crossed over from Banff national park into Jasper national park. The bigger, Less populated, less touristy big brother to Banff. It is also just as stunningly beautiful and interesting.
It was evening when we left from lake Louise so we went to find a place to stay straight away. We went to the Wilcox Creek Campground. This is not far before the columbia ice-field. Here we had a beautiful evening with a great view across the valley.
The next day we got up early to look out over the Coloumbia Ice-field before all the busses arrived. There is a nice walk up to the base of the glacier but as we have spent a lot of time around glaciers in the past few years we decided just looking out at it was good for us.
There is also the skywalk close by, this is an amazing looking superstructure if you see it in photos but do not be fooled. It is very expensive for what it is and it is just on the edge of the highway. As cool as it looks i think it is pretty overrated and touristy. We were really wanting to do it but the price put us off, when we drove past it we were very glad we didn’t do it.
We enjoyed the beautiful sunny day and made our way along the highway dubbed the ‘Ice-field Parkway’. It is a stunningly amazing drive. There are lots of awesome little stops along the way, waterfalls, canyons, lakes and rivers. Not to mention all the wildlife on the sides of the road. We say a family on mountain goats just on the road side. they were so cool, look a little like old men in their faces.
We eventually made our way up to Jasper where we then had to find a place to stay. It was super busy and coming up to the august long weekend where everyone goes on holiday. So us being us, we had not booked anywhere and went on the search. We found the Waiptit campground which said on the sign it was fully booked, we decided we would try and see if they had anything for the next night. They had their winter/overflow carpark spaces free so we got a nice spot in there. It was awesome they shower block was brand new and close by. We were just in a car park so it was not particularly private but we didn’t mind as we had our portable house and very nice neighbours! We stayed here for four nights.
One evening a large herd of Wapiti (Elk) came strolling through the campground. It was super cool. The adults were grazing on the field opposite our carpark area and the young ones were happily playing. Even playing on the playground. They were not at all scared of people and came up close though we were careful to keep a safe distance as one mummy did get a little angry at someone.
We saw lots of other wildlife throughout the park too. In one afternoon, shall I say one hour on a drive home from a hike we saw a flock of mountain sheep on the road and three separate bears. Two black bears, one which made for great photo opportunities and also a grizzly. The grizzly was not too far away from our campground.
While in the parks you could see lots of different animals. When tourists see animals we then get what is referred to as ‘Bear Jams’ or ‘Animal Jams’. These are traffic jams when everyone loses their mind because they have seen an animal. We have to admit we have been somewhat part of this, stopping to look at the animals and take a picture but we haven’t been the idiots that forget we are driving.
One of the worst of these experiences was when we saw the black bear very close. We were on the wrong side of the road so we drove slowly past to see what was going on then we turned around when it was safe then came back so we were then on the right side of the road. When we had come close again there were people all over the road, lots of people had just pulled completely onto the wrong side of the road and climbed out of their sun roof. Others were just stopped half way in the middle of the road. Some had even got out of their car and were walking up to the bear, with their young kids. This is a huge ‘No No’. It is fair to say that often when people are tourists they check their brain at the door.
Whilst in Jasper we did some amazing hikes. One of the ones which came recommended to us from the parks guides was Bald Hills. It was a nice hike, not to steep and hard if you went the slightly longer way up which we did. There was a shortcut but we decided to take the road up and the shortcut down. It was a good idea, we saw a lot of very tired people who went the other way.
From half way up the amazing views start of the lake below and the mountains around. We went the whole way up to the ridge then along the ridge to the summit. It was simply awesome. The day was sunny and clear so we could see forever.
Another great spot we visited was a secret local spot. One of the people we had met earlier in our trip had recommended us to go and find ‘the edge of the world’. So with a lot of searching on the internet we found this local lookout. It is only a very short walk, 10-15 minutes straight out to the edge of a large drop off. It has a fantastic view out over the Jasper township and surrounding area.
One of our favourite shorter easier walks we did not far from Jasper township was the valley of the five lakes. This is a few hour round trip around five different sized different depth little lakes. They are all a different colour of amazing clear water. From deep dark blue to lighter torquoise. They were all so beautiful.
In one we saw young ducklings diving down to feed on the bottom. The water was so clear that we could watch them perfectly the whole way.
On the other side of Jasper township from our campground was the Maligne Canyon. This is a huge canyon with a river still carving it’s way through it. We walked the trail along the side of the canyon which was just breathtaking.
As for Jasper township we loved it. It was not as touristy or picture beautiful as Banff town. It has more of an industrial feel to it especially with the train line running right through. We loved it though, we met Canadians, locals even who actually lived there and were from there. Those who know tourist towns know this is not easy to find.
We had dinner one evening in the Jasper Brewery which was a fun atmosphere. Good food and delicious beer.
On our way out from Jasper we got some lunch to take away. We had to try some cakes from the Otter Paw. The little sister to the Bear Paw. So we got a couple of delicious treats and a yummy coffee. The best part though was the Patricia St Deli. Here they make amazingly tasty and fresh sandwiches and wraps. It is like subway should be. (I really dislike subway, it smells weird, it doesn’t smell like a sandwich for that matter it doesn’t actually smell like food.)
When you walk in to the Patricia St Deli you have the smell of rotisserie roasting chickens and fresh bread. You can choose a selection of things to put on your sandwich, sauces, cheeses and even sprouts. It was one of the best wraps I have ever had and that is saying something. Not only that it was really reasonably priced. A huge sandwich or wrap stuffed full with everything, extra meat (not that you need it) and extra cheese for only $10. We were stoked!
With the excitement of our goodies we quickly made our way out of Japser and off into the mountainous wilderness of British Colombia so we could stop somewhere and eat.