Last Day on the Icefields Parkway

On our last day of our Alberta trip, we drove back down the Icefields Parkway to Calgary, where we were flying home the next morning. We had all day to explore the Parkway so we scheduled a few stops along the way, and also pulled over at several of viewing spots set up along the highway.


Our first major stop was at the Athabasca Falls. The falls are so stunning that it’s impossible to take a bad shot of them (we were also helped by the fabulous weather). In fact, of these pics below, can you tell which of these were taken by my eight year old daughter, using her “camera” that is little more than a $50 toy?





(Answer: the first and third are kid shots.)

There’s a dry riverbed here, where the Athabasca River used to run but doesn’t anymore, which means you can walk right through the old canyon. The dry canyon comes out at the river below the falls, which has a distinctive milky look to it from (of course) glacial rock flour. The canyon was pretty much the only place on the whole trip where we saw a few mosquitoes – I’d brought bug spray everywhere but didn’t use it once. Not sure if that is typical of the area, or we just got lucky, but I was pretty happy about it.



Back in the car, we stopped at a few places (like the Saskatchewan River crossing, where there is a rest stop where you can get a burger for $14.95 – pack a lunch on Icefields Parkway day!).



Eventually we ended up at Bow Summit. Bow Summit is the highest public road in Canada – it’s a little side road to the parkway that takes you up to the top, where there’s a lovely view of Peyto Lake and its glacier.



Then it was, sadly, time to say goodbye to the mountains and head home. The next morning when we got up for our flight, it was pouring in Calgary – and later they had flooding and handfulls of hail. So we like to say Alberta was just as upset to see us go as we were to leave. We’ll be back soon, Alberta – kay?

6 thoughts on “Last Day on the Icefields Parkway

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading all about your trip! Just wish we could have met. I’m so glad you love the Rockies as much as I do! It’s a very special place in the world, I think, and I’m lucky to be close by.

    1. I am sorry we missed you, too! I suppose Allison and I will just have to convince you to come to Ottawa now. Did you know that Hannah was here while I was in Calgary? I missed out on everyone!

      As for the Rockies – they are just so beautiful. Almost everyone we met working in Banff and Jasper was from Ontario, and I can see why – it’s very easy to fall in love with the area. We were a little worried, actually, that we have planted some sort of seed in our children’s minds that will have them moving a four hour plane ride away when they grow up. Guess we’d have no choice but to follow them, then :).

  2. Lynn, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the travelogue! Reliving our 2007 “Van to Can” trip of a lifetime, when Geoff, Eric and friends cycled from Vancouver to Canmore, and my sister and I drove from B&B to B&B and met them at the endpoint. I could live in Canmore, no question. And my sister’s #1 Bucket List location, Lake Louise, brought her to tears. The Rockies never fail.
    So my question is: how did the family do with food along the way? Did that work out? I’m hoping so, so you can plan more fabulous vacations in the future!

    1. Canmore was lovely! We were travelling with my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother-in-law actually knew a couple in Canmore, friends of his parents who had moved out there after they retired. It certainly gives one ideas, doesn’t it??

      The food worked out great – we had nice kitchens everywhere we stayed and I bought a bread maker just to use out there (a cheap one from WalMart, but it did the job) and we did just fine. The only annoying thing was having to move our food stuffs – a cooler and a box and many bags of food – three different times (Calgary to Canmore, Canmore to Jasper, Jasper back to Calgary). It made the moving days tiring and ate up a bunch of our time, but at least it made the trip possible. It makes us feel like we can travel more – but at the same time, next year we definitely want a place where we settle in for the whole week, no moves!

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