Sicamous to Hinton via the Icefields Parkway

From Sicamous, there are two reasonable routes to Hinton – the one through Kamloops and north on Hwy 5 is 658 km, the other up the Icefields Parkway through the heart of the Rockies. The Icefields Parkway route is 53 km shorter, though it takes about the same time, or longer if you’re a photographer. The 35 photos in the post is just a hint of what I shot πŸ™‚

At about 6:00 pm on Friday I pulled away from Sicamous in the beautiful 29-foot Newmar motorhome, and headed towards the Rockies on Highway 1, the Trans Canada.
Highway 1, the Trans Canada, east of Sicamous, BC
Although this was a rush trip for several reasons, I did allow myself some play time, and decided to start with a stop at Craigellachie. That is the site where the last spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven by Lord Strathcona on November 7, 1885. The sign seen here was one of a large series of historic makers that were installed all over the province when I was a little guy, just before BC’s centennial in 1958.
Heritage sign at Craigellachie, BC
A life-size painting of the driving of the Last Spike, with the site’s gift shop in the background. A tour bus load of Japanese was there when I arrived, but they pulled out about 10 minutes later and I had it almost to myself.
Last Spike painting at Craigellachie, BC
The main monument at Craigellachie, with a CPR caboose that you can go through.
The main monument at Craigellachie, BC
I stopped for a quick fast-food dinner at Revelstoke, and reached Rogers Pass at 8:30. In the rapidly-fading light, I took a photo of the rig before I got it dirty πŸ™‚ Rogers Pass is the site where Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially opened the Trans-Canada Highway in 1962.
Rogers Pass, BC
The beautifully-designed Rogers Pass Memory Garden, in the foreground, is a fairly recent installation, having been unveiled on August 15, 2010. It is “in honour of all those who have toiled and sacrificed to keep Rogers Pass open for safe travel”. The garden has several important features, including a bell from an 1907 steam locomotive that visitors are encourage to ring (gently, I hope).
Rogers Pass Memory Garden
I was very surprised to find the Glacier Park Lodge boarded up. A quick Google showed that the lodge opened in 1968 with a 42-year lease, but it had become run down, got very poor reviews, and was closed at the end of the 2012 summer season.
Glacier Park Lodge, Rogers Pass
I pulled into a rest area 10 km east of Golden at about 11:00 pm Friday night, and was raring to get back on the road at 05:20 am when I took this photo of the rest area.
This was the view back towards Golden from the rest area.
Looking east to the very impressive Park Bridge (a.k.a. the 10 Mile Bridge). Opened in 2007, the 405-metre-long span crosses the Kicking Horse River. Its pier number 4 is the tallest ever built in Canada, at 90 meters (295 feet).
Park Bridge (a.k.a. the 10 Mile Bridge) on the Trans Canada Highway in BC
This very impressive rock cut at the east end of the Park Bridge is what made the construction of the bridge possible.
A very impressive rock cut at the east end of the Park Bridge, BC
Heading east on the Trans-Canada at 05:43…
Morning on the Trans-Canada Highway in the Rockies
I stopped for a few minutes at Field a few minutes after 6 just because the light was so pretty.
Morning light at Field, BC
I’ve been stopping at the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint for 40 years now, and it always interests me (open the link to read about it). I got lucky and a train came by right after I arrived.
Spiral Tunnels
Since I last stopped, there are a few more interpretive signs at the viewpoint, and this very cool model of the tunnels.
Spiral Tunnels viewpoint
This stone and steel bridge on Big Hill just north of the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint was originally the railway bridge. After the Spiral Tunnels were opened in 1909, this grade was eventually abandoned and the bridge, with a concrete roadbed, became the highway bridge. It’s no longer safe to even walk across, and is fenced off.
Old Bridge on Big Hill, BC
The old stone and steel bridge on Big Hill
I lost an hour crossing into Alberta but by 9:00 am, after paying $8.30 for a day-use pass, was well up the Icefield Parkway. I had stopped at Lake Louise for breakfast but was unable to find anything open except for a coffee and muffin place.
Icefield Parkway
The first stop I made was at the Bow Lake viewing area at Km 34 (see map), which was fairly busy with a busload of Japanese visitors and a few RVs and cars.
Bow Lake, Icefield Parkway
The is the view back to the south from the Bow Lake viewing area.
Icefield Parkway at Bow Lake
The historic 16-room Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Bow Lake was built by Jimmy Simpson and his family, and opened in 1950. The name is the Stoney Plain Indian word for pine marten, a small animal common in the area.
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Bow Lake
Aaaaaah – a quiet spot on Bow Lake near the lodge, away from the tourists. There actually weren’t that many tourists once a bus left – perhaps 100 – and few left the main roadway.
Bow Lake near Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
Weeping Wall is at Km 106. It wasn’t as impressive as when I drove the highway in May 2013, but is still pretty cool.
Weeping Wall, Icefields Parkway
At Km 122, Sunwapta Pass, the boundary between Banff and Jasper National Parks, tops out at 2,030 meters, and offers a stunning view to the south.
Sunwapta Pass, Icefields Parkway
Bridal Veil Falls is just north of the viewpoint that the photo above was shot from.
Bridal Veil Falls, Sunwapta Pass, Icefields Parkway
Even though the parking lots were only half full, the Columbia Icefield Centre was shockingly crowded. I had expected to be able to get a good lunch there, but not a chance was I getting into those long lineups.
Columbia Icefield Centre
The Columbia Icefield as seen from the Centre, with hikers in the lower part of the photo, and the huge glacier tour buses in the upper centre.
Columbia Icefield
The 1937 Bombardier snowmobile outside the Centre made the short stop worthwhile, Yes, I am easy to amuse πŸ™‚
1937 Bombardier snowmobile
Some day Cathy and I will be able to spend a week on this road instead of a few hours. Bloody awesome!
Icefields Parkway
I almost drove by the Athabasca Falls turnoff at Km 198, since I had been there just a few months ago, but at the last second decided to go for another look. Good idea – the flow was the highest I’d seen in many years.
Athabasca Falls, Icefields Parkway
Athabasca Falls, Icefields Parkway
The big bonus at Athabasca Falls was getting into this old river channel, which is closed off-season because of ice and snow buildups that make it too dangerous.
Athabasca Falls, Icefields Parkway
By the time I reached Jasper at 1:30, I was really hungry, and went to the De’d Dog Bar & Grill for another of their delicious Big Game Burgers (ground elk, venison and bison). I had expected it to be extremely busy and wondered whether I’d even get a seat, but there were only a handful of people, and nobody was watching the World Cup game that was on every TV.
Jasper, Alberta
The long walk back to the motorhome took me by the historic Parks Canada building. Designed by A. M. Calderon using cobblestone and timbers and completed in 1914, it was the first major building in Jasper.
Parks Canada building in Jasper
I reached my son and his family’s home in Hinton at 3:00 pm, with one primary focus. This is what I’d been trying to arrange for the past 7 weeks – the chance to be a grandpa to Brock. A bottle, a burp, and a fine snuggle – life is good πŸ™‚
Grandpa and baby


Sicamous to Hinton via the Icefields Parkway — 2 Comments

  1. I missed a few posts while I was off in upstate NY battling blackflies and ‘skeeters…nice pics and man, do you look the contented G’pa!