CANADIAN ROCKY MOUNTAINS
17 september through 21 september
We decide to take the shortest route to the Rocky Mountains. We are curious to know how the Canadian National Parks look like and how they compare to those of the USA. Our first destination is Jasper of which they say it is more natural than Banff. That is why we think that Jasper is more appealing to us.
The main difference to the American National Parks is that in Canada there is a real town inside such a park. (Or the park is formed around the town: whatever came first).
So people actually live inside it and you have no feeling of being in a natural area. We don't like that very much.
Besides there is no central reservation system for the accommodation. It is all very expensive so you are dependent on B&B's for cheaper accommodation. Not that this matters, but in the visitor center are just two telephones by which you can make free phone calls. For the rest there is no service what so ever. Besides it is still very busy and a lot of accommodation is full. The result is that every individual tourist has to call all these B&B's and hears that they're full. So all those B&B's receive lets say a hundred phone calls a day and there is a tourist jam at the telephones. We stand there and make phone calls for an hour before we have a roof over our head for the night. We get cranky from that and that is not the purpose of a vacation. So if it were up to us they might organize this different. Or better: just start organizing it.
But after this irksome task we can get out of the town side again and find ourselves in a beautiful piece of nature. We even see wolves which is quit rare. They eat from a carcass in the river. It is too far to see with the naked eye so our binoculars come in handy.
Jasper also is teeming with bugling elk. Very fascinating altough there are still some foolish people that have to approach them.
After a couple of days we drive south to Banff.
We pass by the Columbia ice field where it is very cold and busy. We make a short walk over a glacier, which is very slippery without special material. The weather is now getting better day by day. We actually see the sun for a while and don't have to wear our winter coats anymore. We move slowly towards Banff
Banff is terrible. We thought that Jasper town side was crowded but Banff is one big tourist industry. It is so busy that they even need traffic lights. This has nothing to do with a wilderness experience and we decide to find accommodation outside the park itself. We end up in Dead Man's Flats. It's a fifteen minute drive from Banff so no problem.
What we thought on forehand is true. Jasper fits us much better than Banff. Jasper is larger, wilder and we don't even see one animal in Banff. We don't blame them: we also run away from here.
That is why we decide to visit the neighboring Kootenay National Park. We enter from the east and what we see is horrifying. It has just been reopened after the worst wildfires in fifty years. Everything has burned away. EVERYTHING to the highest mountain tops and to the timber line. It still smells very much of soot.
One of the highlights, Marble Canyon is completely destroyed and closed. But the further we drive west the better it becomes. It is very beautiful and worth while. We end our visit to the Rockies with a view on the famous blue-green lakes like Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. They are very pretty indeed but we arrive at the end of the day when it gets quit cold again. And the sun is just in the wrong position to get a very good view.
Next: Badlands of Alberta