Columbia Icefield Tour
via Trans Canada Highway
TRANS CANADA HIGHWAY
of the Main Ranges
Starting out from the town of Banff, you will travel west on Canada's No. 1 Highway, also known as the Trans Canada to Lake Louise. Along this portion, you will cross under two
After the first one there is a pullout on your right, which gives you a beautiful view of the Bow River & Sawback Range (as well as a couple public toilets!!) Here you can see the transition from the front ranges to the main ranges. Looking up the valley from this viewpoint, you will see what we call Castle Mountain.
Castle Mountain Chalets
With the differing colour from the Sawback Range to Castle Mountain, you can truly see the greys of the front ranges and the red-browns of the main ranges. Castle Mountain is the first of the mountains that you'll see of the main ranges and they continue on right through to Jasper. Prior to this point you are in what we call the front ranges.
Just a few miles out from this viewpoint, you will come to Junction 93 also known as Castle Junction. You can turn off at this junction, to get a much closer view of Castle Mountain.
Castle Mountain Hostel
If you are planning on taking it really slow up the parkway, you may be interested in accommodations. Just across the river there are cabin accommodations called Castle Mountain Chalets which include a little store, restaurant and gas bar. Also locayed nearby are Castle Mountain Hostel as well as Castle Mountain Campground (43 wooded sites, flush toilets and kitchen shelters. Open mid-May through early September.) Back onto the Trans Canada Highway (No. 1) and nearing Lake Louise, you again have a decision to make. A stop at Lake Louise? Or further west for a few kms to the junction for Highway 93 north to Jasper? (Continue on with JUNCTION 93.)
href=http://www.rocky-mountain-tour-guide.com/lake-louise.html target=_blank>VILLAGE OF LAKE LOUISE AND LAKE LOUISE
Cross over the overpass and drive to the four-way stop. Go straight and you are in the Village of Lake Louise. If you have the time and are interested in the mountain-building process, make a stop at the interpretive centre in the Village of Lake Louise. It is well-done and very informative with interpretive films playing daily on topics varying from bears to life in the park. By the way, you are now in the subalpine zone – a mixed forest with subalpine, white spruce and lodgepole pine.
If you are interested in packing along a few snacks, stop by Laggans Mountain Bakery & Deli in the village where you can pick up a soup, a couple sandwiches and a decadent dessert. Spoil yourself! You are on holiday! If you are in need of anything else, there is a grocery store right next door as well as bathrooms. You may also want to check your fuel gauge! Gas stations can be few and far between and you don't want to be caught off guard. Remember - you are not in the city.
If you would like to continue on to the lake in Lake Louise, just continue through the two four-way stops and cross over the bridge which goes over the confluence of the Pipestone and Bow River. This road, Lake Louise Drive (5km), takes you up the hill towards Lake Louise. This is of course the location of the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise which looks onto Lake Louise and stunning Victoria Glacier. (Yes, named after Queen Victoria!) Picture stop!!
(Just as an aside, on the way up to Lake Louise there will be a sign for the turn-off to Moraine Lake Road (12 kms) which leads to the famous Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks which were featured on the back of the old Canadian 20 Dollar bill for many years. A short walk from the parking lot leads you up a hill to one of the most spectacular sights. You just won't believe the colour!! Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks really are worth a visit. If you are not going to be in the area again – take advantage of their close proximity! This road is only open in the summer months.)
ON TO JUNCTION 93
Then travel west of Lake Louise, via Highway No. 1. You can then transfer onto Highway 93 North, the Icefields Parkway. Now a few of you may have already purchased a National Park Pass to visit the parks. If you haven’t, you will come to an area at the start of Highway 93 North run by Parks Canada, where you can purchase your park pass. It is the user pay system, in which the proceeds go back into our national park system.
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Return from Via Trans Canada Highway
to Columbia Icefield Tour