Icefields Parkway - Day 1
Highway 93, or the Icefields Parkway, is often considered one of the most beautiful roads in Northern America. The Icefields Parkway stretches from Jasper to Banff (about 230 kilometer), exactly along the Continental Divide (on one side of the divide, water will stream to the east, on the other to the west). And it is this mountain range that causes the beautiful scenery: high mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, and waterfalls. Awesomeness all over!
You can travel the Icefields Parkway by public transport (with Brewster, you can even hop-on and hop-off wherever you want). However, it is way more easy to travel the Icefields Parkway by car. Some drive the Icefields Parkway in two day's: one day from Jasper to Banff, the other day from Banff to Jasper. Fact is, one day is just not enough. We also drove the Icefields Parkway in two days. The first day from Jasper to the Athabasca Glacier and the second to Banff.
The first day on the road started on a campsite just south of Jasper. Our first stop was the Athabasca Falls. Although we arrived quite early at the Athabasca Falls, it was already crowded with tourists. And if we say crowded, we mean crowded! People really used their elbows in order to make a good photograph of the 24 meter high falls. Crazy! We did not really enjoy it there, which made us leave shortly after arriving.
After driving another 23 kilometers, we turned off the Icefields Parkway to visit the Sunwapta Falls. On the road towards the parking area, we suddenly spotted a black bear. The second in a day, and this time we were able to closely monitor the bear just by ourself. She (?) was enjoying her breakfast by eating berries. So amazing to see!
When the bear started walking, we also continued our way to the Sunwapta Falls. The upper falls are easy to access, the lower falls require a short hike. Walking towards the lower falls, you have an amazing sight on the canyon formed by the fast amount of water flowing through. After making a dozen of photos from the water, we walked back to our RV. Cautiously as the bear we spotted earlier walked in the direction of the parking area. But we didn't spot her.
A little further south, we arrived at the most important sight along the Icefields Parkway: the Athabasca Glacier.
There are two possibilities to actually go on to the glacier: by foot (but took too much time for us) or by buss (way to touristy). Instead, we choose to drive towards the mouth of the glacier and make a hike opposite the glacier. And honestly, we couldn't have made a better choice! The viewpoint opposite the glacier is not so crowded, and the view is amazing. Absolutely worth the effort. The hike took us in total about three hours; a great way to spend the afternoon.
We spend the night at the Wilcox Creek Campground, a first-come, first-serve campground. This is a small campsite without any facilities, but we had these in our RV. And it is absolutely worth it to spend the night here: when you wake-up and see the glacier... amazing!