Hello and Merry Christmas from Jasper, Canada. We drove from Yoho National park up to Jasper National Park on the Icefields Parkway, which was one of the best drives we have ever been on. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Years!
Driving up on Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway, from Banff up to Jasper, is one of the most beautiful drives you could ever take. It is truly epic. In the winter, you also have the adventure of the road itself. It is not maintained well, so it can be very dangerous, so make sure to check the road conditions as well as the weather report. The is no cell service and it is very cold in the winter, so you do not want to get stick. Stick to driving only during sunlight, and drive carefully, be prepared to have snow chains and take it slow.
Luckily, we did not have a bad trip up, the road was icy and packed snow most of the way (230km) but there has not been any snowfall in the past week, so it allowed us to go for it even though we do not have the best car for snow. The drive in the winter was serene, not too many cars on the road, and snow covered mountains, glaciers, and iced over rivers that really was one of the best drives we have ever done. The Canadian Rockies really speak for themselves and have a lot of character, a lot of jagged peaks and unique mountain shapes that around every corner put you in awe.
The first couple hours of the Icefields Parkway is in Banff National Park, which is a huge national park, but it is great because you get to see two national parks on this drive. After an hour and half or so, you get to Jasper National Park and enter the Icefields area, where the highlight of this drive is stopping at the Athabasca Glacier.
At Athabasca Glacier, just parking and looking from the parking area does no justice. Put on your jacket, hat and gloves, and take the 3 mile round trip walk over to the glacier’s edge, and you will be rewarded with one of the coolest things you have ever seen.
The Athabasca Glacier in the winter is so serene and really brings out the blue ice at the glaciers edge. You have the protruding ice from the snowfall, which from afar looks so tiny, but when you get there, it makes you realize how massive this glacier really is. We first ventured around the protruding ice area, before heading to an ice cave. From where you can see the open ice from the snowfall, the ice cave is just a short walk to the left.
The ice cave was on another level, something that makes you feel like you are in the original Superman movie entering Krypton. We ventured into the cave, which is not very large, but big enough to get different perspectives and really enjoy this natural beauty. We could have stayed for hours but it was only 6 degrees F, so we had to get back to warmth!
Following the Athabasca Glacier, we continued on towards Jasper. Most sights are closed in the winter, but we did stop at the Athabasca Falls, which is open during the winter. This was a great 10 minute stop, just a short stroll and you really get to take in a cool waterfall and gorge for such little hiking off the road.
After the falls, we pushed on to Jasper. The mountains and scenery is beautiful, and while it is absurdly cold (-14 degrees Celsius, 7 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, we look forward to a big adventurous day outdoors in the Jasper area.