Our third day on the road began with a misty morning over the tallest point of the Canadian Rockies. We spent the day making our way across the provincial border into Alberta, where we picked up a park passes for $65 to get us unlimited access to all the parks of Canada (mandatory in order to drive through the park, for which $20 day passes are also available).
I have dreamed of Jasper and stared at other’s Instagram photos for years now – and there’s nothing quite like taking it all in for yourself.
We ended our day at Mount Kerkeslin Campground, a self-registering camp site just off the Icefields Parkway, a mere scramble from the rushing Athabasca River. Day 3 saw us driving 300km in 11 hours and setting up our campsite at dusk. This campground provided by far our biggest, most secluded lot of the whole trip and cost $25 for the night including campfire fees.
Although we never did actually see the peak, which would be the tallest point of the Canadian Rockies, the glacier-fed waterfalls coming down the side of the mountain were still impressive. The parking lot was full of adventurous hikers prepping to take on the multi-day Berg Lake trail, one I want to come back and take on.
Fondly nicknamed by Sam as Bum Protector Falls, I fell in love with this gushing waterfall the moment I saw it. Known for the last pit stop of a hefty salmon run, Rearguard Falls offers visitors a jungle gym of metal railings with views of stunning blue waterfalls.
It was Moose Lake where we first laid our eyes on the turquoise blue that was to be so prevalent during the subsequent days of our roadtrip. It was Moose Lake where we met three Slovenian motorcyclists biking cross country. It was Moose Lake where we did not see any moose.
Although visible from the road, the road access is not so clear. We traipsed our way through overgrowth after struggling to even find the parking lot. It was well worth it, however, as we took in the greeny-yellow reflections without a single other soul in sight.
Driving through Yellowhead Pass was the first time I had crossed Canadian province borders on land. It was also my first step ever into Alberta, which is a place I have been dying to visit for years now. Jasper and Banff have been on the top of my places to see ever since I downloaded Instagram five years ago. And the trip was finally coming to fruition. Cue the emotions.
A beautiful multi-bridge stack of canyons and swirling rivers, Maligne Canyon unfortunately happens to be busy and touristy. Sam and I explored the different paths between the various lookouts and at Bridge 4, turned and trail ran back to the parking lot to escape the throngs of people.
The beautiful little town of Jasper is nestled in the mountains of the park and offers hungry, tired and supply-needing travelers a range of goods and services. I learnt how to fill up the gas in a car in Jasper. Memorable, to say the least.
I can’t put into words what Medicine Lake feels like when you first lay eyes on it. The lake itself stretches far beyond what you can see, wrapped entirely by road and sheer mountain faces. Sam and I enjoyed our lunches perched on crumbled rocks at the water’s edge with a view like no other.
Home to the famous Spirit Island – which we didn’t actually see because apparently kayaking it takes 4 hours and we didn’t plan for than – Maligne Lake is serene. We went for a wander around the lakeside paths and I dipped my toes in while Sam went fully under. He promptly came right back out, shivering but grinning.
Right after turning onto the Icefields Parkway out of Jasper, there’s a little shoulder where you can pull over, and scramble down to the riverfront. The River here gurgles past, offering travelers the most gorgeous blue colours, viewed best on a sunshiney day.
Edith Cavell Glacier
The drive up to the Glacier, a little road just off the Icefields Parkway, offered jaw-dropping views before we even arrived at the final destination. I was in absolute awe, and more than once I made Sam pull over to the side so I could stand up in my seat through the sun roof to take photos. We met two Texan motorcyclists at the top who graciously took a number of photos of us in front of the most incredible glacial site.
Hands down the most beautiful road I’ve ever driven on (and I’ve driven on some kickass roads), Icefields Parkway is famous for having an unlimited supply of views in every single direction, each more jaw-dropping than the last.
Mount Kerkeslin Campground
Mount Kerkeslin is an unmanned campground, which basically means you have to pay by filling out a form and dropping it in a locked box and then pinning your stub and proof of campfire purchase to a stump at the edge of your site. It’s quite peaceful, actually. This was by the far the largest lot we stayed in, and the river rushed past right close by.
*Including photos by Sam