After Edmonton, we traveled to Jasper for a few days. It’s a much longer journey than it looks on the map, and was our first sample of the size and scale of living in Canada. In fact, the first 2 hours of the trip was dual carriageway, with very little traffic whatsoever and vertically straight highways. It’s not often I’ve seen a sat nav saying turn left in 306km – and as you can see from the photo below, I’ve saved one of the more exciting shots to show you as we were just passing some ‘green space’!
The evergreen trees are broken up by golf courses – in fact, for any budding golfer and golfing fanatic, Canada is the place to come. I’ve never seen so many golf courses and it made me wonder how on earth they are commercially viable given the sparse numbers of the population and the vast numbers of courses available to ‘make a putt’.
That said, I’m not missing the bumper to bumper traffic of the UK at all. There are no tailbacks, no queues and even in the ‘busier’ areas, this is the equivalent of early Sunday morning traffic. In fact, one driver in Jasper was complaining about the difficulties of pulling out onto the local highway, and I’ve got to say, he’s never experienced ‘real’ traffic and congestion if that was anything to go by. I send all my sympathies to any Canadian brave enough to drive in the UK as it must be a huge culture shock and something that sends them dashing back to their homeland with relief afterwards.
The mountains and Rockies finally came into view and the vastness was extremely pronounced. We entered Jasper National Park – all vehicles have to display a pass which is issued to them at the various entry points to the parks. There are bear signs and ‘watch out for moose’ signs – none of which we’ve had the delights of witnessing as yet.
We stopped off at Miette Hot Springs which are natural springs where the water (full of minerals) comes straight out of the ground at a blistering temperature of 52 degrees. This is then artificially cooled to 40 degrees and you can swim in the pool – or rather, bask in the pool as swimming is far too energetic in that kind of temperature. There are 3 other pools, all with varying temperatures – one at 35 degrees, then another 24 degrees until the final one is more of a ice water pool which is absolutely freezing! Good for the soul!!! That said, you’re sitting in mineral pools on the top of a mountain overlooking the Jasper National Park amid stunning scenery and enjoying the delights of the minerals on your skin. You can see why it’s popular! A lovely stopping off point – just don’t forget your costume and towel!!!
The lakes around Jasper are absolutely amazing – I’ve never seen water that is so vibrant turquoise. They are clear and extremely inviting – especially on a warm summer’s day. The picture above is taken from the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on the shores of Lac Beauvert which is beautiful at anytime of the day. Deer walk into the grounds in the evening and ground squirrels play in the woodland surrounding the shores of the lake. Simply stunning.
Pyramid Lake was particularly delightful and well worth a visit. We had a paddle and dip in the lake and as you can see, there’s almost no one else in sight. Hard to believe you’re in a prime tourist location – it was almost like having your own private lake!!
The Jasper Skytram is also worth a trip. Just outside Jasper, you take a cable car to the top of Whistler Mountain and for those feeling energetic, you can walk a further 45 minutes to the summit. It’s a walk well worth it as your efforts will be rewarded in abundance along the route from the views and panoramic vistas which surround you. We made it to the top (with 3 kids in tow), on a day which had blue skies, not a cloud in the sky, and complete visibility of Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. We were informed that this is only clearly seen on approx 24 days each year – one of the very rare occasions when we’ve got our timing completely right!
Take a trip – you won’t be disappointed.
Our next stop takes us from Jasper to Lake Louise … see you in a few days 🙂