Friday, October 29, 2010

Banff and Jasper Trip Part 8: Icefields Highway Part 1

Earlier posts about my Banff and Jasper trip (Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Pt 6, Pt 7)

The Icefields highway (Highway 93) runs from Jasper Alberta in the north to Lake Louise in the south. To travel along this stretch of highway you need a national park pass, as it is meant for tourists rather than normal traffic. The good news is that no heavy truck traffic is permitted on the highway, so there are no big trailer trucks to impede the speed of traffic. Along the Icefields Highway the beauty of the landscape does that anyway, at least for many of the visitors. Along the way down the highway I stopped at over a dozen different locations. I was forced to stop at all the places I wanted to see in one day because from September 6th (Labour Day) to late May all the campsites along the highway are closed. The highway itself is open most of the year and only closes when snow and ice conditions make it unsafe to travel on.

Due to how many places I stopped along the highway, I'll be splitting this second into several parts. 

The first photo was taken just south of the highway 93A exit (which leads to Mt.Edith Cavell). By the time I packed up all my camping gear and fueled up my car it was already 10AM, so ideal lighting conditions were already well behind me. Weather wise the day was mixed with bright warm sunshine to dark and rainy, such are the conditions along a 300+ KM stretch of mountain passes.

The second major stop along the highway, after Edith Cavell, is Athabasca Falls, which I had visited the day before, but quickly stopped at again. Some of my best photos at that location were taken during my second visit. From there I headed south towards Sunwapta Falls. Along the way there are places to stop and photograph the panoramic views.

Sunwapta Falls is not nearly as impressive as Athabasca Falls, but still worth the 2 minute drive off the highway to visit.

After Sunwapta Falls there are many breath taking views, but for 10-20km there are very few official pull offs to take photographs. When I wanted to get a shot I just had to pull as far off the road as I could.

As you travel south from Jasper you follow the Athabasca River, which then cuts deep into the mountains. Once you pass Sunwapta Falls you travel along side the Sunwapta River to its place of origin, which I'll be talking about in a later post.

One of the last stops before arriving at the starting point of the Sunwapta River is the Stutfield Glacier, which is one of the first large glaciers along the Icefields Highway.

The last photo in today's entry is a close up of the Stutfield Glacier that I took with my Nikon AF-S 300mm F4.