Columbia Icefields to Jasper – Alberta, Canada
By John Crawford
Senior Writer/Jasper National Park
ALBERTA, CANADA – Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, mountain caribou and other large mammals are among the highlights of this stage, your final leg of a truly unforgettable journey. Along the way, you’ll pass the cascading Tangle Falls, Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls, the towering pinnacle of Mt. Kitchener, the fascinating Kerkeslin Goat Lick, Bubbling Springs, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and countless more photo-worthy sights. Finally, returning to below the treeline, you’ll arrive in Jasper, the tranquil mountain town where more travel adventure awaits.
Beauty Creek Hostel
For centuries, natives and explorers camped alongside the placid waters of Beauty Creek where it flows into the Sunwapta River. Only 17 kilometres north of the Columbia Icefield, the hostel provides access to excellent hiking trails, including one with views of eight waterfalls. This is a rustic hostel (no running water, no flush toilets) but there is purified water for cooking, a propane refrigerator, stoves and lights. As a special treat, the hostel serves guests daily pancake breakfasts with genuine Quebec maple syrup. Open from May 15 to September 30, Beauty Creek is a Hostelling International hostel, so a valid HI membership card is required to stay.
Kerkeslin Goat Lick
A viewpoint at kilometer 192 from Banff along the Icefields Parkway, the Kerkeslin Goat Lick offers an excellent view across the Athabasca River to Mt. Christie, Mt. Brussles and Mt. Fryatt. The lick itself is an exposed salty mineral deposit, which attracts mountain goats down from their lofty perches for an irresistible treat.
Located 10 minutes from the Jasper townsite, the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada. Along the 7-minute ride up, the tram rises more than 3,000 feet and take in views of six mountain ranges, glacier-fed lakes and the Athabasca river. Arriving at the top 2,277 metres (7,500 feet) above sea level, visitors can see ptarmigan, pikas and the occasional bighorn sheep.
Town of Jasper
A quieter mountain town, Jasper is a peaceful residential community where you can choose to enjoy the delights of town or stay in the rustic charm of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. With a prestigious place on the Conde Nast Gold List and a golf resort ranked #1 by SCOREGolf, this four-season luxury resort is a treasure from another era.
The Athabasca carries the most water of any Rocky Mountain river, and the 23-metre (75-foot) falls present a spectacle of roaring water, spray, and mist. Although the falls are not very high by Canadian Rockies standards, the size of the river puts them among of the most powerful falls to be found in the mountain national parks.
Parks Canada Information Center
A national historic site, this Jasper community landmark was built in 1913 and is one of the finest examples of rustic design in Canada’s national parks. The cobblestone building is a popular meeting place, as well as an important information hub for visitors.