Canada Things to Do Tips by MichaelFalk1969 Top 5 Page for this destination
Canada Things to Do: 484 reviews and 704 photos
Medicine Lake - along the Maligne lake road - is a fascinating natural phenomenon, as this lake exists only "seasonal", when the spring melts the glacier ice which in turn feeds the lake. The water then leaks slowly through a cave system - imagine someonone pulling the stopper in a gigantic bathtub - and reappears in other places, like Maligne Canyon. We where lucky and saw the lake properly filled, though in places the water was just ankle-high - with rubber boots you could wade through to the center of the lake. It is possibly to walk a little along the lake-shore, and it is very likely that you will see Pikas (small alpine rodents) on the way.
Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) connects Jasper with Banff National Park and is said to be one of the most scenic driving routes in the world, with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. We were quite unlucky as we had pouring rain all the way down to Banff, but we still caught glimpses of its beauty. I recommend planning in a whole day for the drive from Jasper to Banff including stops and activities along the way. to JasperIn the attached weblink you find an excellent map with km-indications where to find interesting sights along Icefields Parkway.
- Valley of the Five Lakes (9 km south from Jasper) is a short easy hike (3 hours return)
- Athabasca Falls (30 km south of Jasper)
- Columbia Icefields: it is possible to go up the glacier with giant tourist busses, but we skipped this activity. Nonetheless you can walk up to the impressive glacier.
- Peyto Lake, Bow Lake and Hector Lake (all between km 190 and 212 from Jasper) surely deserve a detour.
Keep in mind that fuel stations are scarce along this road. Make sure your tank is full when you start your trip.
To be honest, Montreal wasn`t exactly our favourite city in Canada. But that might be connected to the fact that rain was pouring endlessly for hours and we were suffering from a cold. Montreals main asset is the very nice Oldtown, with a distinct french "feel" about it. It could be taken right out of Normandy or Britanny, you wouldn`t expect something like this in in North America. Not to be missed are also the historic churches "Notre Dame" and the imposing cathedral "Marie-Reine du monde". Apart from that, Montreal is a real good place for shopping.
Valley of the Five Lakes
This easy and well-signed hike turned out to be one of our favourite trails in Jasper National Park. It starts at a parking lot roughly ten km down south of Jasper Township and has a length of roughly 3 hours roundtrip. The views of all the small lakes with their emerald-green water was absolutely stunning.
Another highlight of Jasper National Park (Alberta/Canada) is the Maligne Canyon hike, following the rim of the deepest canyon in the Canadian Rockies downstream. Along the way, you can catch dizzying glimpses of the rapids below in the gorge. An interesting fact is that Maligne Canyon is interconnected with several lakes through a cave system. This is the reason why Medicine Lake seasonnally dries up. Would love to go there in winter, when the waterfall freezes up like a giant icicle. This easy hike is basically one-way, so have to work your way up and back to the parking lot once you decide you have seen enough. It is very nice, but usually very crowded, and the fences, though necessary, are not easy on the eye.
Banff National Park
Banff National Park in Alberta - established 1885 - is the oldest national park in Canada (and the second oldest park in North America plus the third oldest park in the world). Banff was also declared a UNESCO natural heritage monument.
Banff`s main natural assets - easy to explore on the various hiking routes - are
- Lake Louise (must-do: hike the Path of the Six Glaciers)
- Moraine Lake
- Peyto Lake
- Bow River
- Sulphur Mountain
- Johnston Canyon
- Vermillion Lakes
The park is centered around Banff townsite, which has all the necessary tourist facilities and a little extra, too. (You could probably go shopping all day and never notice there is a national park around but for the occasional elk deer grazing in the gardens). In fact, Banff is so popular that the touristic highlights can be really overcrowded in high season.
Lake Louise is easily the most scenic lake of the Rocky Mountains (it is about 1 hour driving distance north from Banff). The Lake is probably the most-visited and most-photographed destination in Banff, but with its turquoise waters it is so stunningly beautiful, calm and serene that you don`t even realize the crowds of camera-toting bus-tourists next to you. Try to go early in the morning; the water reflections are best then. My advice for even more great panoramic views is to hike the Path of the Six Glaciers (roughly 4-5 hours return trip).
The biggest national park of the Rockies, established 1907, and a UNESCO natural heritage monument. The park is centered around the small township of Jasper which gives access to all the usual tourist facilities. Some of Jasper`s biggest natural assets - with plenty of hiking paths to explore them - are
- Maligne Lake mit Spirit Island
- Maligne Canyon
- Mount Edith Cavell
- Pyramid Lake
- Medicine Lake
- Lake Katrine
- Cottonwood Slough
- Whistler Mountain
- Miette Hot Springs.
Maligne Lake is THE must-see destination in Jasper. I recommend the Bald Hills Hike to get the best views of the lake. Lake Katrine is rarely visited but stunningly beautiful, too. Try to plan in at least three full days for Jasper, it is worth it.
Jasper has no lack in wildlife, too: The magnificent elk bulls and the bighorn sheep are often found grazing beside the main roads. Other - more elusive - wildlife species include bears, wolves, cougars and coyotes.
An accomodation alternative to overpriced Jasper would be to look for accomodation in the communities near the eastern park gate, direction Hinton (see my hotel tips).
Driving north from Banff to Lake Louise, just a few miles before Lake Louise you have to go south again (roughly 15 km) on the scenic Moraine Lake Drive. The emerald-coloured Lake Moraine is as scenic as Lake Louise, and unfortunately as crowded. But if you hike a little away from the lakeshore (hiking routes to Sentinel Pass or Consolation Lakes), you soon will lose most the hordes. Keep in mind that some hikes can be closed due to bear activity, or hikers can be required to go in groups - so watch for announcements. It is easy to combine both Lake Louise and Lake Moraine in a daytrip.
These spectacular waterfalls are one of the first attractions along the Icefields Parkway when driving from Jasper to Banff in a southernly direction. Surely worthwhile seeing. though the fact that some idiot build a utility road over the canyon leading from the waterfalls was a bit anticlimactic. The way from the falls to the river including photostops and return is roughly 30 minutes.
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