A Visual Journey Through the Rocky Mountains, Part 1

If you’ve never been to Canada or don’t know much about the country then all of your knowledge might just come from the typical Canadian stereotypes. That we ride polar bears to work, that we have a pet moose in our backyard, that we live in Igloos and have an unstoppable need to apologize – even when we’ve done nothing wrong. While some of these are true (can you figure out which 3 are lies and which one is true?), Canada is a lot more than it’s stereotypes and a lot more than the East and West Coast that most travelers head to. Some of the most exceptional scenery and activity packed locations is Canada’s Rocky Mountains, located in the Southern part of Alberta.

We may be a prairie province with wheat fields as far as you can see but we also have hours upon hours of mountainous terrain – perfect for a road trip with family or friends. You can drive from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park (or the other way around!) and have breathtaking views at every turn, plenty of break spots and tourist points to take some of the very best pictures and partake in tons of activities from horseback riding and hiking to whitewater rafting or bungee jumping.

Whether you’re a summer sun-seeker or a winter nut searching for some of the best powder on the slopes the Rockies are perfect all year round. This summer we took a family road trip where we made our way from Jasper to Banff, camping out along the way and exploring some of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen.

We began our journey on the road, mountains on either side and passing by herds of elk and mountain goats. We had our fun of exploring Jasper town and checking out the trails through the wooded forest near our campsite. 

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Elk

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Sunset in Jasper National Park

Rocky Mountains

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By the second day we were suited up in our wetsuits and willingly let ourselves be taken by the river, propped up in raft. If you haven’t tried whitewater rafting, I highly recommend it! Be prepared to be drenched in ice cold mountain water – especially if you’ve been volunteered to sit right up in front! My cousin and I may have swallowed half of the river that afternoon.

If you took the icy plunge, as we did, follow our lead and go directly to Miette Hot Springs. Lucky for us, we were camping just up the road from the hot springs and got there just as the sun was setting, dipping into the hot water to thaw our chilled bones.

Jasper National Park sunset

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After having our fill, we headed on to our first stop: Athabasca Falls.

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls

And took our next stop along the Icefields Parkway, where I went snap happy and landed my favorite shot of the trip:

Icefields Parkway

Before long we had arrived in Banff National Park, setting up camp just outside of town and cozying up to a fire and some well deserved glasses of wine.

 

For a more detailed itinerary, click here and stay tuned for the rest of this adventure!

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Sunday Snapshot: The Icefields Parkway, Alberta

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This photo, taken along the Icefield Parkway between the Rocky Mountain towns of Jasper and Banff, AB is just one of the jaw-dropping views along this stretch of mountain highway. Looking up to the center of the photo, you can see one of the Rocky Mountain’s glaciers that supply all the surrounding lakes and rivers with pure glacier water. You can fill up your water bottle for a taste of some of the purest water in the world.

Lazy Summer Afternoons

With being caught in between school years with not much cash to spare, it’s been a mission this summer to do a few things around my own city that I might not take the time to do otherwise. With a trusty best friend by my side, we decided to take a day or two to hit up some of the parks in our city.

First up was Whitemud Ravine, a place where you can go to get the feel of being surrounded by nature but still be in the middle of a city. The ravine has excellent walking and biking trails that are accessible any time of year.

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Park benches are scattered throughout the ravine where you can rest and take in a pretty view.

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And we happened to come across a friend in our wandering who was keen to eat grass from my hands.

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A blazing hot day brought about our next set of urban park adventures. Armed with all the necessities required for an afternoon of suntanning, we made our way to Hermitage Park. Located in the north of the city, Hermitage has paved paths that eventually connect to Rundle Park.

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Here, you can rent out a canoe and take a paddle on the large pond. If fishing is your thing, family fishing is allowed in the pond and you can have some fun trying to catch the rainbow trout that are kept in there. For those of us with dogs, there’s an off-leash dog area where your furry friend is free to run, jump and play to their hearts content. It’s also a great place to get a group of people together for a fire and a cook-up of food on one of the barbecues scattered around the park.

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As we had come fully prepared to do nothing more than take a walk around the park and scope out the best place to lay around for the day, we finally found ourselves with a meadow entirely for ourselves. Surrounded by trees, we had all the privacy we could hope for and a view of the pond ahead. Thoroughly pleased with our find, we spread out all that was needed for a lazy afternoon in the park and welcomed the sun with open arms.

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The Real Devonian Gardens

This might sound like a repeat post, like you’ve read the name Devonian Gardens somewhere around here before. And you did, right here. But there are two Devonian Gardens in Alberta, apparently. One nestled on the top floor of a shopping mall (which is a great escape from the winter blues) and one that is located just outside of Devon, AB that greatly exceeds the size of the one I’ve previously talked about. The Devonian Botanical Gardens have been around since 1959 and cover a whopping 240 acres. Whether you prefer flowers or plants, a space that is polished and manicured or one that is left a little more wild, you’ll have a chance to pass through it all in an afternoon here.

One of the most popular areas of the garden is the very well kept Japanese Garden, with its rushing water, vast expanses of green lawn and still ponds. Walking through it makes me want to jump into a yoga sequence or sit on the edge of a rock and meditate.

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But don’t forget to take a stroll through the butterfly house on your way there. Kept hot and humid, stepping into the butterfly house feels like you’re walking into the tropics. Butterflies of all sizes and colors float through the air, flitting from one flower to the next and resting on giant leaves. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the gardens, not only to imagine myself being in the tropics but also because if you have the patience to stand very still, very quiet, for a fair amount of time, you might just have a butterfly land on you!

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As we were with my great grandma, who can’t walk quite the distance she used to, we opted to try out the guided tour of the gardens. Led by a chipper girl who clearly loved her job, we hopped on board the train of golf carts and began a journey through the history of a place that is over half a century old. While I prefer walking through a place so I can get a little snap happy, the guided tour was extremely educational and quite a good idea if you like knowing what you’re looking at as opposed to simply admiring the beauty.

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Calla Water

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If you are taking a stroll through the property, there’s even an area that is built to satisfy more than human sight. Guests are encouraged to touch and even taste the herbs and plants that grow in these areas!

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The gardens make for a peaceful afternoon of wandering about, admiring pretty things, taking children frog catching. You can visit on a Thursday evening for a designated date night with a special someone or group of friends and can even use it for elaborate events such as large or small weddings.

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Sunday Snapshot: Alberta Prairies

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Today’s snapshot features a photo from home, taken on a country road just outside of Edmonton. The more I travel the more I find that I appreciate where I come from. Nothing beats the Alberta prairies, yellow fields as far as you can see and wide open blue sky. Driving down those back roads always calms the mind and gives you a beautiful view like this one. You might even find yourself slamming on the breaks to jump out of your car and lay down on the road to snap a photo (watch for cars!) ;)