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Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park (USA)

August 2 - 10. 2008

Caravan Tours

 

This travel tour started in Calgary, Alberta Canada after a drive to Albany, NY, plane

rides to Chicago, Edmonton and lastly to Calgary.   Unfortunately, Air

Canada decided not to send my suitcase with me from Chicago to

Edmonton.  Needless to say, I had several tense moments before

being told by a United Airlines representative that my suitcase was on

the 11:00 pm flight to Calgary and it would be delivered to the hotel in time for

my 8:00 am Sunday morning bus departure.  I was very pleased to claim my suitcase

 at he hotel desk around 6:00 am on Sunday morning.  I only could imagine

what my wardrobe would be for the week without my suitcase full of clean clothes.

Our first night of the tour was at the Hilton Garden Inn near the Calgary Airport.  Our

Tour Director, Russell Moore convened our first tour meeting at 8:00 pm.  He made

sure that we all introduced ourselves including where we lived.  He also reviewed

the weeks travel plan.  Our tour group was 44 individuals from the USA including two

visitors from Israel.  It appeared that we would be a very compatible group with a good

mix of senior citizens and younger travelers.  It was refreshing to have

6 high school & college aged students along on the tour.

Our bus departed the Garden Inn at promptly 8:00 am.  Our bus driver was Graham.  The bus

was a very comfortable vehicle and Graham was first class driver in every way.

Our first stop after traveling south of Calgary on route 2 was at the village of Fort

Macleod, Alberta.  Above is a picture of the courtyard of the Museum of the North

West Mounted Police.  We were able to tour the Museum exhibits which were inside the

various buildings that comprise the fort.  The various exhibits illustrated

the rich history of the Mounties. 

A real member of the Mounted Police was at the fort on his day off to

greet visitors to the Museum.  I had a chance to chat with the officer and

he was a first class police officer in every way.

Four members of the Fort Museum's Mounted Patrol were present during

our visit.  These young ladies are wearing  replica uniforms.

At mid morning these members of the Mounted Patrol performed a Musical

Ride in the Museum Corral.  They are the latest mounted patrol members of a

34 year tradition featuring this musical ride each summer.  There riding performance

was excellent with many intricate maneuvers performed while riding their horses.

Performing the difficult one of several challenge riding activities.

After visiting Fort Macleod, we left the cowboy country of Alberta and began

our drive westward to the Rockies.  Our next stop was at a roadside rest

area where we could dramatically see the "Rockies rise out of

the rolling Prairies of Alberta." 

This photo shows the changing landscape as the Rockies emerge.

As we drove along Route 3 toward out first designation we drove through Pincher

where we began to follow route 6 that would take us to Waterton

Lakes National Park.  This one of the first mountain to

greet us as we drove into the park.

Our lakeside hotel was the Bayshore Inn, the hotel was centrally located

in the small Village of Waterton Park.  It was easy to

walk around the village to shop and sightsee.

After lunch, we had a bus tour to Cameron Lake near Waterton Park.  It was a

beautiful spot with many photo opportunities.  Above is a shot of the lake

from the visitors center.  The lake water was quite cold, there were

many people using boats and canoes on the lake. 

After our stop at the lake, we bussed to the edge of Waterton Park where we

visited Cameron falls.  The water from the lake flows into the Upper Waterton Lake.

After our visit to the Lake and Falls we had some free time before our welcome dinner at the Bayshore Inn.

Near the Hotel was the Waterton Marina.

After a delicious dinner, we had free time.  Since we were in a northern section of

Canada we were experiencing sunset between 9:30 and 10:00 pm.  I took

advantage of the late sunset to take several photos as the day wound down. 

We had covered considerable distance and saw many interesting sights

on our first day on the road.  The above and following photo were taken as sunset neared.

On Monday, August 4th at 8:00 am, we were off to visit the U.S.A.  It was our

much anticipate trip to Glacier National Park, in northern Montana. 

Along the way to the park, we were guided by beautiful mountain sentinels. 

Chief Mountain is on the right in this photo.

When we crossed the border into the U.S.A. we had a stop at the immigration

station to clear Customs to enter our own country.  The Customs staff were

very helpful and efficient so that we were back on the road in just a few minutes.

The Waterton - Glacier International Peace Park is the world's first International

Peace Park, formed in 1932 by combining Waterton Lakes Park in Canada with Glacier Park

in Montana.  Rotary Clubs of Alberta and the Montana were instrumental in the effort to

form this Peace Park that is the celebration of the friendship

between Canada and the United States.

For our visit to the Park we will be riding in one of the famous "Jammers"

that have been restored for everyday use in seeing the sights of Glacier

National Park.  These historic (1936 - 1939) Red Busses are both a symbol of

Glacier National Park and a reminder of a time when adventurous travel was

done with style and grace.  The jammers are original with some modification to meet

today's challenging use schedule.  We met our Jammers and drivers at

Village Inn in West Glacier.  We were in for the joy of a sightseeing ride

for several hours in a vintage red bus.

Our first photo stop was at Saint Mary Lake.  It was a beautiful spot with

mountains all around.  Red Eagle Mountain is in the background.

 Mountains in every direction!

I was lucky enough to get the seat next to the driver.  That made photo

taking easy.  This is one of the original "Jammers" vintage 1936. 

There was room for 17 passengers in our red bus.

Another mountain peak!

Our next stop on the "Going-to-the-Sun-Road" was at Sunrift Gorge.

The Jammers were built with canvas tops that roll back to be opened for picture taking. 

A sun lit waterfall on the way to Logan Pass.

Clements Mountain stands guard at Logan Pass.

Big horn mountain sheep enjoying the sun and snow at the top of the pass.

Another Mountain view with the snow piled up at Logan Pass.

The view from Jackson Glacier Overlook.  Jackson Glacier is in the background. 

In 2005, Glacier National Park had 27 slowly moving glaciers. 

Another beautiful Glacier National Park mountain.

On the way back down from Logan Pass we stopped for another photo

shoot at Saint Mary Lake.  This locale is the site of an old hotel

that was destroyed years ago.

 

Saint Mary Lake

The Many Glacier Hotel.  We had our lunch break here.  It is a beautiful spot with

terrific mountain and lake views.  The hotel was built in 1915 by the

Great Northern Railroad to accommodate tourist to the park.

Swiftcurrent Lake in front of My Glacier Hotel.   Mt. Herkel in the background.

After a pleasant bus ride back to Waterton Park including a stop at Canadian

Customs where we all held up our passports and answered the officers question's

in unison, we were allowed back into Canada.  Above is the historic Prince of Wales hotel.

One last brief stop at the Prince of Wales Hotel that is just outside of Waterton Park. 

There is a commanding view of the Upper Waterton Lake.  The hotel is one

of the old Great Northern Railroad hotels and is quite posh.

After supper I took a sunset boat ride on the Upper Waterton Lake.  It was very

pleasant trip and photo opportunities abounded.  Above is the boat dock

from where the cruise departed at 7:00 pm.

Following are a few of the photos I took on the boat ride.

The green strip going up this mountain represents the international boundary

between Canada on the left and the United States on the right. 

This is the Goat Haunt Border Station located on the shore of the lake.  Many

hikers use this station to enter the United States to hike throughout Glacier National Park. 

Lucky for our tour group there was no Customs Officers on duty.  At this point we

turn around to return to Waterton Park village.  The cruise lasted for two hours.

One last sunset shot!  What a day I have been sightseeing for over 13 hours.  I took a

couple hundred photos (Lucky for you I am not going to include them in my web page). 

The day's travel covered Canada and the United States and

one huge International Peace Park.   Just think this was only our

second full day on the road!  I slept well this evening.

Day 4, August 5th, our tour is off to Banff for our next stop.  On the way we had a

pit stop at a Golf Club in Pincher as we head north.  A second rest stop occurred at the

Bar U Ranch.  This statue was in the yard of the ranch.  They  had a gift shop to allow our

die hard shoppers a chance to spend those Canadian dollars we all had.

Mountain scenery in the beautiful Kananasskis Valley on the way to Banff. 

Along the way we shared the road with a trio of Big Horn sheep.  They were out looking for lunch.

Further down the road we met this trio of sheep lapping up salt from the road. 

The did not seem to care if we stopped to photo them.

We arrived in Canmore, Alberta in the early afternoon for our lunch break.  This town is

booming as a result of tourists who have decided to purchase property there.  Above is the

former Mounted Police cabin that housed the Mounties who served in this area. 

It how houses some historic exhibits about the Mounties.

Mountains on the short distance to Banff.

A picture of a river on the way to Banff.

Along the way we happened upon a moose enjoying a roadside lunch.

  

Our last activity of the day was to ride the Banff Gondola to the summit of Mount Sulphur. 

The view were spectacular in every direction.  Following are a

few of the photos I took upon the mountain.

Gondolas reaching the summit!

Mount Rundle

Observation at mountain top.

Enjoying the view!

Banff from the top of the gondola ride. 

This last shot ended my day of travel. 

The drive from Waterton Park to Banff covering 9 plus hours.  We went

from the Banff Gondola to our hotel in downtown Banff.  We were staying at

the Mount Royal Hotel.  It was in the center of the downtown shopping area. 

With the later sunset it was fun to have time to walk about Banff. 

Day 5, August 6th.  We are going to be spending the day in and

around Banff.  This is a morning view of Mount Rundle.

Banff Springs Hotel. 

Mountains ring Banff on all sides.

As part of our Banff area bus tour we stopped at a city park that

commanded a view of downtown Banff. 

The Bow River Falls on the outskirts of Banff.  Our tour group is scheduled to

take a 11:30 am float trip down the Bow River for an hour. 

Our tour group getting safety instructions on how to ride in the raft as we float along.

River scenery.  The guide told us that the locals think this mountain form is like a bison.

Hoodoo shapes found along the river bank. 

Looking up the Bow River as we sail along.

Our day of formal activities ended with the river float trip.  We had a free

afternoon to do our own thing.  I spent most of the afternoon

exploring the downtown area of Banff.  Not many bargains there!

Above is a last evening of our visit to Banff sunset.

Day 6th and we are off to visit several very photographic spots in the Canadian Rockies. 

We left Banff at 7:30 because we have a full day as we travel to Jasper, Alberta. 

The first stop of the morning was at Lake Moraine.  This picture stop has been

used in calendars and books of photos for years.  It is truly a

beautiful spot to photograph.

The second stop of the morning was at Lake Louise. 

Another wonderful spot to photograph.

The Chateau Lake Louise.  I went into the Chateau to have lunch, alas they were still

serving breakfast at 11:30 am, so I had a $24.00 breakfast which was very tasty. 

This German family waded into Lake Louise to have a photo taken.  It must have been

very difficult to do as the lake water is glacier feed.

Our next stop of the trip to Jasper was at Peyto Lake. 

The water color was a result of glacial water run off.

Peyto Lake is located on the Great Divide.

Mountains on the way to Jasper.

We are driving along the Icefields Parkway.  The parkway runs from Banff to

Jasper through the Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Icefields Parkway sentinel!

Tangle Falls

Blue sky's and some white clouds were the order of the day.

Stanley Falls

Another beautiful mountain scene as we drive along.

Our to Athabasca River Falls was our last stop of the day

as we headed for Jasper for the next two nights.

Jasper House Bungalows was our home for the next two nights.  It was a

very pleasant spot away from downtown Jasper.  The bungalows were

very comfortable and quiet.  The Athabasca River ran behind the bungalows. 

One evening a bear visited the bungalow area.  Rafters were seen

each afternoon floating on the river. 

Day 7, we are off for a tour of two mountain lakes near Jasper. 

Above is Medicine Lake.

Our second stop of the morning was at glacier-fed Maligne Lake.  Some of

our group took a long boat ride on the lake.  It was a very photogenic  spot.

A front door gift shop guard at Lake Maligne.

The marina at Lake Maligne.

The back door gift shop guard.  Shoplifting was

kept to a minimum by these guards!

Jasper is one of the terminal stops for Trans-Canada railroad.

Mountains from downtown Jasper.  After our morning tour, we were given

free time to have lunch in Jasper and to do some shopping.  Then it was

back to Jasper House for the rest of the afternoon.  After dinner

he had a campfire and roasted marshmallows just like scout camp evenings. 

It is Saturday morning, and we are preparing for our last full day of our tour. 

We are on the road at 8:00 am heading south to Calgary.

Above is a picture of Edith Cavell Mountain.  It could be scene from the entrance of

Jasper House.  Edith Cavell was a very heroic nurse who lost her life

during World War I.  The mountain is 3363 m tall.

Sunwapta Falls Resort was our first rest stop of the morning   We did not

get a chance to see the falls but the mountain scenery was superb.

We are nearing the Columbia Icefields as we drive down the Icefields Parkway. 

Note the snow dome glacier on the top of this mountain.

The Athabasca Glacier is a outlet valley glacier.  This photo was taken

from the Columbia Icefields Centre located in Jasper National Park.

Mount Athabasca

One of the tour busses that ferries people on to the glacier.

It was cold and slippery on the glacier.  The hard packed glacier

was very difficult to walk on without sliding.

After our walk on the glacier were returned to the visitors

centre where we had time for lunch and shopping. 

 We had a rest stop at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge after leaving the

Icefields Centre.  Above is a photo of the Bow Lake in front of the lodge.

The Num-Ti-Jah Lodge story begins with a wild, red-haired 19 year old named

Jimmy Simpson who left England for Canada in 1896. He was to become the

legendary outfitter known as the last and greatest of the Canadian mountain men.

He guided scientists, mountaineers, big game hunters and artists through the

little-explored Rocky mountains. His wild character, quick wit, and

tall tales of the trail made him one of Canada's most eccentric pioneers.

When Jimmy Simpson camped at Bow Lake in 1898, he vowed that one

day he would "build a shack here". Twenty-five years later he began building the first log cabin

on the site and had a permanent base for his outfitting tours. He called his

operation Num-Ti-Jah, a Stoney Plain word for pine marten, a small animal similar to a sable.

After this rest stop we continued southward to Banff

and Canmore where we picked up Route 1 to Calgary. 

A last look at the beautiful mountains of the Canadian Rockies.  What a great trip! 

Every aspect of my travels were perfect.  A great new group of friends, very

capable tour leader and bus driver, and a terrific day to day

itinerary made for a for a great touring experience.