Alberta RVing: Cochrane via the Icefields Parkway

On day 11, Saturday, September 19, we started south on the Icefields Parkway just before 3:30, with our 2-day pass in the window getting us waved through the gate. The weather was iffy, and we didn’t have very high hopes for seeing the best of the highway’s spectacular views.

Icefield Parkway gate south of Jasper, Alberta
Athabasca Falls is a must-stop in any weather, and was fairly busy, with several tour buses and lots of cars and RVs. The falls are only about 24 meters high (80 feet), but are very impressive because of the gorge the water has cut through a layer of limestone underlying the quartzite that it starts falling from.

Athabasca Falls, Alberta
There are plenty of paths and viewpoints to see the falls and gorge from.

Gorge at Athabasca Falls, Alberta
The path down to the lower gorge is definitely worth taking, partly because it goes through an old, now dry section of the gorge.

Lower gorge at Athabasca Falls, Alberta
A little bit of brightening weather, but as we neared the Columbia Icefield where we planned to spend the night, it got very dark and started raining.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
The view of the Athabasca Glacier (the main toe of the Columbia Icefield) from the RV window at 5:50 doesn’t show the extremely strong wind that was rocking the rig and making lots of noise 🙁

Athabasca Glacier, Alberta
A bit of clear sky got us to brave the wind to go up to the Icefield Discovery Centre, but despite the name that hints that it’s an interpretive centre there’s really not much to see there – it’s a hotel, a couple of restaurants, and ticket booths for various tours and attractions.

Icefield Discovery Centre, Alberta
The view is impressive, though. To even walk the dogs, we unhooked the Tracker and drove further down the highway where we found a somewhat more sheltered location. Parking overnight at the Icefield Discovery Centre cost $15.70. While looking for a place to walk the dogs, we checked out a real campground just to the south, but the road was steep and very rough, the sites were too small for us and it appeared to be full in any case.

View from the Icefield Discovery Centre, Alberta
We had the wildest night ever in the motorhome, with the wind screaming around us and the rain pounding us. I braved the storm to take a few shots at 9:45, and we continued driving south on the Icefields Parkway a few minutes later.

RV at the Icefield Discovery Centre, Alberta
We only made one stop down the highway, as the best views were clouded or fogged in. I drove the Parkway 3 times in 2014, though, the best trip being in August.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
When I shot this at 11:25, it was incredibly dark.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Once we reached the Trans Canada Highway near Lake Louise, the skies started to clear, and by the time we stopped for a late lunch at Canmore, there was actually a lot of sunshine.

Jasper, Alberta

After deciding that the reviews for the campgrounds close to my daughter in Airdrie were just too bad, we chose to stay at the Bow Rivers Edge Campground in Cochrane, and were immediately pleased with that decision, as we’d be there for 4 nights.


Alberta RVing: Cochrane via the Icefields Parkway — 1 Comment

  1. The Icefieds Parkway is such a great drive! A few of those shots brought me right back there. I went this time of year too and boy was it gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this wonderful drive!