Icefield Parkway shows you Canada's Rocky Mountain Playground

A broad shoulder and spectacular scenery..who could ask for more?

You are forgiven if you think this is a picture of Zermatt's Matterhorn in the Alps. I believe it is Bow Mountain. It sure does a good job looking like it, and is a great example of the process by which glacial ice scours and wears down rock surfaces. This picture also shows you just how generous the icefields parkway is for cycling: the shoulder is the widest lane in the road. How often is that the case? Be careful, since many Canadians, especially buses, consider this breakdown lane a bona fide lane that if the parkway gets crowded. The whole area of Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kicking Horse Pass, Sinclair Pass and Mt. Robson (located about 4 hours by bike west of Jasper on a good road), is an absolute feast of scenery for the cyclist. Campgrounds and hostels are available all over the place and are reasonably priced. Many of the hostels are wild/basic and thus great to stay at: campfires, pit toilets, water from the creek behind the hostel. Often you will find climbers and hikers as company.

The Canadian rockies look different from their American cousins; the tree line is lower, so they are more jagged in appearance. Also glaciers and snowfields are more prevalent. There are several good examples of both Valley Glaciers and Ice Sheets as you move up the parkway. The parkway has two main passes: Sunwapta and Bow; both of which are challenging but very doable by well trained cyclists. Numerous side trips mean you can spend many days in this region: Lake Louise, near Banff; Kicking Horse Pass, off the main road as you enter British Columbia; Mt. Edith Cavell near Jasper where you can see glaciers spall off chunks of ice into the lake below. South of Jasper is Whistlers Campground, the largest in North America with a few zillion sites for visitors of types. Definitely a beautiful area and I look forward to riding thru it again early in my world tour.

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