Jasper National Park and Banff National Park, Canada
From Skagway I drove back into the Yukon and on to British Columbia, where at Meziadin Junction I made a quick sidetrip over to Stewart, Canada to check out the glaciers along Highway 37A. I didn’t anticipate that the wildlife would be even more interesting than the glaciers. On just that 40-mile stretch of road I saw four different black bears. One of the bears, happily grazing on clover, graciously let me photograph him from very close (through my car window).
After a night in Price George I drove on to Jasper National Park. It was my first time in Jasper and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the scenery – massive glacier-capped mountains rising at impossibly steep angles from the edges of aquamarine lakes and rocky streams. The sun made a brief appearance when I first entered the park, but blue sky quickly gave way to angry rainclouds.
As it turned out my timing couldn’t have been worse. I’d entered the park on the Saturday morning of what turned out to be a holiday weekend in Canada, apparently the most popular time of the year for roadtrips in that part of the country. There were crowds everywhere and all the campsites in Jasper and Banff were taken. On top of that the weather forecast called for several days of heavy rain.
I decided to just spend the day driving around Jasper and its neighbor Banff National Park and then continue on south. The area was so impressive that I could already tell I’ll want to return for a longer visit at some point when the crowds are less oppressive and the weather might be better.
The clouds parted for about 10 minutes while I was at Moraine Lake, giving me a chance to see the amazing turquoise water in direct sunlight. As I ate a sandwich on some rocks overlooking the lake a fat, fearless chipmunk jumped on my knee to demand that I share.
As I made my way over to Lake Louise the rain picked back up and didn’t stop until I’d driven away from the parks. The next morning I crossed back into the U.S. and the day after that I pulled up at Marie’s place in Mountain View. It had been an incredible trip, and I was extremely grateful that my 14-year-old car managed to ramble over 6,000+ miles of sometimes-rough roads without a single problem.