Anyone who enjoys road trips like I do will find Canada's Icefield Parkway (or Highway 93) as one of the most scenic anywhere in the world. Views are so stunning drivers are forced to stop their cars frequently, giving this route at the heart of the Rockies a nod to "it's the journey and not just the destination" aphorism.
The Icefield Parkway was completed in 1940 and stretches for 230 kilometers. It straddles the jagged peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, linking the contiguous national parks of Banff and Jasper as it runs parallel the Continental Divide. The entire park system has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984.
Driving the Icefield Parkway was a must for us since we wanted to see glaciers at Columbia Icefield, usually about 3 hours drive from Banff. As it turns out, the drive took longer what with the numerous stops we did. But it was worth it, never mind if we couldn't cover the parkway's entire stretch. Even my young nephew Aaron found no use for his portable video player (he instead grabbed a point-and-shoot camera to follow my lead).
|One stop too many|
Visible from the highway is a pristine world of wilderness, valleys, lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and of course, glaciers - the very force that helped shaped this ruggedly awe-inspiring landscape. Wildlife do abound but we were not fortunate to see them on this trip. Given that we were there at the tail-end of summer, the weather was a mixed bag of clouds, rain, snow and some sunshine.
We also missed what would have been a spectacular view of Peyto Lake if only the mist was not just too thick. Nevertheless, this was one long drive I wouldn't mind doing again. In fact, we intend to do the full stretch from Banff to Jasper on our way to Edmonton next time.
Ah...if only all road trips are as blessed with visual delights as Icefield Parkway, I'm pretty certain no one would be asking "Are we there yet?".