does a drive between two hotels, approximately 150-miles apart from one
another, become a highlight of one’s journey. 
However, the drive between the Jasper Park Lodge and Chateau Lake Louise
did just that.  
spectacular Canadian Rockies journey followed some of the same mountain paths
that were forged by explorers, traders, prospectors, and the First Nations
people, who crossed this challenging terrain on foot, horseback, and rafts. 
this historic route, that took us through some of the most rugged and
awe-inspiring landscapes in North America, we passed lush valleys and towering
peaks; photographed glistening lakes, cascading waterfalls, and regional
wildlife; and walked on icy glaciers descending from the largest icefield in
the Canadian Rockies.

the Jasper Park Lodge at 8 AM, we set out for the drive along the spectacular
Icefields Parkway that links Jasper and Lake Louise. Often called the most
scenic highway in the world, this 143-mile parkway got its name from the
numerous glaciers that flank its western side.  
straight through, it would take approximately two-and-a-half-hour hours to
travel the parkway.  However, with the
scenic rest stops and turnouts for photographs, you can easily spend a whole
day making the drive.  And we did…
marveling at the following along the way:
Falls are located approximately 20-miles from Jasper.  This raging torrent of water crashes through
a gorge that has been carved by the Athabasca River over thousands of
years.  It offers a breathtaking view of
jagged cliffs and brilliant rainbow –hued sprays of water.


Falls is a breathtaking series of stepping waterfalls.  “Sunwapta” means “turbulent river’ in the
language of the Stoney Nation.  This is
an apt description of the unpredictable waters that plummet over the cliffs
into a deep canyon before joining the Athabasca River further downstream.
Columbia Icefield, one of the largest accumulations of snow and ice south of
the Arctic Circle, is a gigantic ice mass that feeds eight glaciers.  It covers an area five times bigger than
Manhattan.  The water that melts from
these glaciers then flow into rivers and streams that ultimately feed the
Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


Glacier, the most accessible of the glaciers that descend from the Columbia
Icefield, is reached by boarding a six-wheel drive Snocoach that takes you to
the middle of the glacier.  Descending from
the Snocoach, we walked on water, 1000-feet deep, but frozen solid.  Dwarfed by the massive glacier, and chilled
by a wind that whipped across the ice, visitors stood in awe of the seemingly
endless river of ice that surrounded them. 
Within the Icefield Interpretive Centre, located down the road from the
glacier, a mini-museum explained the history and geology of glaciers.
wildlife in the Canadian Rockies distinguishes this area from all others.  Elk, moose, bears, cougars, caribou, and
bighorn sheep are among the many roaming creatures that travelers might catch a
glimpse of on the Icefield Parkway.  A
bighorn sheep was grazing at the side of the road and tried to board our
motorcoach as we stopped to photograph him. 
Overpasses and tunnels have been built to allow animals to safely cross
the highway.
our motorcoach drove south, we stopped to admire the brilliant waters of Peyto
Lake, one of the most brilliantly colored lakes in the Rockies.  The extraordinary turquoise hue of this lake
is due to fine particles of silt that comes from the run-off of melting
glaciers.  This silt, called rock flour,
remains suspended in the water and reflects the light.  Thus the water appears to be brightly
colored.  Since the tint of the water
varies with the amount of rock flour, the color of a lake can change during the
season.  It depends on the melt rate of
the source glacier.

Glacier, one of the more than 100 glaciers that can be seen from the Icefields
Parkway, got its name because it was once resembled the three claws of a crow’s
foot. Although one of the claws has receded, the name remains.  
we drew closer to the tiny village of Lake Louise, I wondered what Mother
Nature could come up with that would equal or surpass what we had just
witnessed.  And then, voila!  There it was…Lake Louise.  
Lake Louise is the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of reality.  It is a romantic, relaxing village that has
attracted royalty, Hollywood stars, and heads of states for over a
century.  (Population: 600 in winter;
1200 in summer.)
1882, surveyor Tom Wilson became the first white man
to discover what the native Stoney Indians called “The Lake of Little
Fishes”. The name was later changed to Lake Louise in honor of Princess
Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria.  Directly in back of Lake Louise is Victoria
Glacier on Mt. Victoria.  Both were named
for Louise’s mother, Queen Victoria.

Lake Louise
I first came face to face with the mirrored surface of Lake Louise, it was
to understand the emotional words that Tom Wilson wrote in his diary.  “As God is my judge,” wrote Wilson in the
summer of 1882, “I never in all my explorations saw such a matchless sight.”  And, matchless sight it was!
could not get enough of the striking turquoise Lake Louise.  At dawn and at dusk; at sunrise and at
sunset; in foggy rain or in clear moonlight; from the Chateau Lake Louise or
from across the valley.  I simply could
not take my eyes off the awesome beauty of Lake Louise.  Little wonder that it is the most
photographed lake in all of North America and one of the most photographed
places in the whole world. 
could I get enough of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  This diamond in the wilderness is truly an
idyllic mountain paradise.  Stirring the
souls of all who have visited since 1890, the Chateau Lake Louise creates an
unforgettable experience.  Amid the
majesty, comfort, and service of the Chateau, you can experience the Canadian
Rockies at their best.
departing Calgary for home, there was time for a quick spin around Banff and a
fleeting glimpse of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  Surrounded by spellbinding scenery, this
“Castle in the Rockies” has been a world-renowned symbol of elegance and
comfort for over a century.
stay at the Fairmont’s magical mountain resorts is a return to a bygone era
when the rich and famous were enticed by grand hotels that beckoned them to the
furthest reaches of civilization.  It is
a glance back in time, when ribbons of steel traversed formidable terrain and
brought travelers to places that were unobtainable to all but the rich and
today’s space-age world, Rocky Mountaineer Railtours brings travelers to those
same places that are now obtainable to all.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel
Writer and a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio.