Friday, December 3, 2010

Banff and Jasper Trip Part 11: Icefields Highway Part 4

Read about other parts of the trip: (Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Pt 6, Pt 7, Pt 8, Pt 9, Pt 10).

As you travel further south along the Icefield highway the Saskatchewan River valley turns and heads eastwards. From there you start to move along side the Mistaya river, which is traveling north into the Saskatchewan River. Shortly after you come to the meeting place of the Saskatchewan and Mistaya Rivers, you come to Mistaya Canyon, pictured above. The canyon is a beautiful spot, but it can be very busy with tourists if you are there mid-day. I tried to get as few people into this shot as possible. The canyon itself is very deep, not as deep as the Maligne Canyon near Jasper, but deep non-the less.

During my visit to the Canyon I saw people looking down into the canyon, which is somewhat dangerous, because unlike the Maligne Canyon there are no fences near the edges. The photo above gives you an idea of how narrow the canyon is, and why it would not be a good idea to fall into the river.

You do have to walk down to the canyon from the highway, which is fine, but the climb back up would make the visit more difficult for some people. Anyone in half decent physical condition should have no trouble.

The next stop along the highway is Waterfowl Lake, as seen in the photo above, which is host to one of the few campsites along the southern section of the highway. During my visit the campsite was closed, so I was unable to stop there, although it would have been nice to do so.

From Waterfowl Lake you travel backup out of the Mistaya River valley into the Bow River valley, which travels south towards Lake Louis. The first start of these process is driving up to the Bow summit. If you stop at the Bow summit you have the opertunity to take a short hike up to the Peyto Lake viewpoint. From the viewpoint you get a stunning view of the valley to the north, and Peyto Lake itself to the west. This spot would be a great place to come for early morning or late evening photography of the surrounding area.

The hike up to the viewpoint itself is a little steep, and due to the high altitude, undertaking it is not for people who don't like doing some hill climbing. The path itself is paved, which makes for an easy walk up. During the late spring and early summer I could see the walk being exciting because there would be a lot of mountain flowers blooming on the hillside.

The last stop I made along the Icefield highway was at Bow Lake, from which you have a view of the Bow Glacier. Next time I'll be talking about my visit to Lake Louis and Banff.