Monday, April 1, 2013

What to see in the Western Canadian Mountain Ranges

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  But at the same time, I think it's worth listing off some of the sights that impressed us the most, given that no trip to mountains of BC and Alberta is ever long enough.

Lussier Hot Springs
If you've never sat in a hot spring and aren't a fan of water parks, this is your best bet in the area around Radium Hot Springs.  Avoid Radium!  It's over developed and is like sitting in a public pool.  This is all natural and hopefully it stays that way.

View from the Big Beehive
Nobody ever told me that I needed to see the Big Beehive.  I'm not sure why it was never mentioned.  Sure the view overlooks the Trans Canada as it follows the Bow River.  That doesn't detract from the beauty though.  Wow!

Bald Hills Summit
Another off season beauty.  A long, but rewarding trail. I recommend departing from the trailhead around 10 or so; that way you'll have as much time as possible to enjoy the view from the top.  Just pack a lunch and stare out into the endless wilderness.

Meadows in the Sky Parkway
Sure, it's a just a short jaunt up the Trans Canada.   But don't let that fool you - the scenery is disproportionate to the effort it takes to get here.  There's even a shuttle bus to take you directly to the fire tower lookout trail, providing access for nearly anyone who wants to experience this place.

Plain of Six Glaciers
While the tea house is definitely not without its charm, you shouldn't forget to see its namesake. This is the reason the tea house is here people!  Try to come late summer, around noon, so you can catch the glacial avalanches.  You'll feel the thundering snow deep in your core.

Peyto Lake
This spot has an aura that you'll never forget for the rest of your life.  If you manage to escape the crowds at the main look out, you'll have the opportunity to stare out in wonder at Peyto's impossible blue hue with nothing but the pikas and ravens to keep you company.  Transcendental.

The Entire Icefields Parkway
Wow.  My wife says the Icefields Parkway is emblematic of Canadian Wilderness - a vast, pristine treasure trove of beautiful scenes, many of which can be easily accessed by car.  There is some remarkable scenery here.  But if you put in a little effort and venture past the first loop or the first lookout, you may find you have the amazing views all to yourself (especially in the off season)

Wilcox Pass
While there's probably a point where hiking here gets monotonous, we never reached it.  Just a phenomenal place to visit in the off season, where the crowds are small, but the scenic value (and solitude) can be enormous.

Lake Louise at Dusk
Everybody has seen a shot of Lake Louise from the Chateau Lake Louise during the day.  But how many have seen Lake Louise at Dusk?  I imagine most people have taken shelter in their warm cocktails in the chateau's swanky restaurant at this point of the day, but they don't know what they're missing.  Head to the western shore and watch the moonrise from one of the many trail-side benches.  You won't regret it.

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