After exploring Canmore, Banff and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park it is was now time to explore one of Canada’s biggest highlights: the Icefield Parkway. Canada’s most rugged scenic drive located between Banff and Jasper. As our next stop would be in Invermere and we wanted to take all the time to explore this spectacular road, we decided only to drive the southern half of the Icefield Parkway. The northern half of the drive would be on our list for later on, when we’d be near Jasper.
The Icefield Parkway has many, many things to see or do. There are tons of viewpoints and hikes to choose from. As you can’t do everything in 1 day, we made a selection of what we wanted to see and do before taking off.
May is pre-season in Canada. This means that sometimes roads and highlights aren’t open to the public yet, due to safety. At the visitors center in Canmore we were told that Moraine Lake would be open from the 23rd of May. We’re so luckily to hear this, because we would never assume it could be closed and this meant that we could plan our visit. So on the 25th of May, Moraine Lake would be our first stop on our way towards the Icefield Parkway. We went early as we read that parking is limited and could be full before 9 am. In this case, park rangers close to road towards Moraine Lake, again for safety reasons. No way that we would let this happen.
When arriving at the entrance road, it was still open. Yes! We made it on time! After about 20 minutes we arrived at Moraine Lake. It was still quite and peaceful. We walked around the area and we’re stunned by the beauty of this lake. Even though you’ve seen it millions of times in magazines and online, it’s amazing to see it in real live with your own eyes. There is something about this view that makes it perfect. The colors, the mountains, it all seems just right. As it was still early in season, ice covered the lake for most part. But we didn’t mind. It made it just more special in our eyes.
After Moraine Lake it was time to move forward, towards Lake Louise. When arriving we had to park at this immense parking lot, full of cars and buses. And it wasn’t even high season yet. If that many come to see this lake, it must be very special you’d think. But when walking towards the lake we were a quite disappointing. Lake Louise was mostly covered with ice and the scenery wasn’t as spectacular as Moraine Lake. The grayness of the clouds and lack of sunshine didn’t make it any better as well. And don’t forget about the hundreds of Asian people, making photos and taking all the space. So after taking our own pictures when possible we quickly went back to our car as we had many another stops on our list.
Driving the south part of the Icefield Parkway
After seeing Moraine Lake, we were very curious on what we’d see the rest of the day. While making our way along the road our first stop was Hector Lake. Again a beautiful lake covered with ice with a nice range of mountains behind it. After this quick stop we continued our way upwards, seeing our first (black) bear! As excited as we were in the car, as calm was the bear, eating his fare share of grass in the field. Another thing we could check off our list!
Some other stops we visited were Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake and Peyto Lake (on recommendation of Henk & Harma). We noticed that this part of the Rocky Mountains was much colder than were we stayed. The fact that most lakes were still covered with ice confirmed this. When arriving at Bow Summit there was even still quite a bit of snow on the walk towards the viewpoint over Peyto Lake. This was quite an adventurous walk as the snow was very slippery of all visitors walking the path. There were even people walking the snow with only wearing flip-flops! After this slippery and slide walk we arrived at this breathtaking viewpoint over Peyto Lake. This lake has this intense blue color like we’ve never seen before. You can barely capture it on camera. We just kept staring at this amazing view, not even minding the rain at that moment. Unfortunately a lot of people kept on arriving at the viewpoint so after a while it was time for us to leave.
When driving back home we were still flabbergasted about what we’ve seen today. All these amazing lakes, views and colors, the way the mountains play with water and clouds. Nature is truly amazing and something we really have to treasure before it’s too late.