Friday, September 25, 2015

The Canadian Rockies

It's been a long time since I last visited the Canadian Rockies, maybe 17 or 18 years ago, before Kathy and I were married, and then again maybe 16 or 17 years prior to that on a family trip with my parents and grandparents. I don't know why it's been so long between visits. Perhaps I had forgotten just how beautiful these mountains are. The Canadian Rockies are really unlike anywhere else I visited in the world. Over the past two weeks we visited and stayed in Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, and Waterton Lakes National Park and I feel like we barely scratched the surface for what these parks had to offer.
Looking down to the town of Banff, AB from Sulphur Mountain
I tried to write up my description of how these mountains are different than the US Rockies, and went looking online for help in describing the mountains. I found this description in Wikipedia that strangely looked very similar to my own, so I decided to go with their description:

According to Wikipedia’s article on the Canadian Rockies (
The Canadian Rockies are overall more jagged than the American Rockies, because the Canadian Rockies have been more heavily glaciated, resulting in sharply pointed mountains separated by wide, U-shaped valleys gauged by glaciers, where as the American Rockies are overall more rounded, with river-carved V-shaped valleys between them. The Canadian Rockies are cooler and wetter, giving them moister soil, bigger rivers, and more glaciers. The tree line is much lower in the Canadian Rockies than in the American Rockies.
Looking down from Tunnel Mountain in Banff, AB
In the US I've seen much of the Rockies from New Mexico, through Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and the US stretch of the Rockies is definitely beautiful mountains, but the Canadian Rockies truly are unlike anything in the US. It isn't difficult to imagine giant glaciers carving the valley thousands of years ago. From the main towns in either Jasper National Park (Jasper) or Banff National Park (Banff) you look in any direction to steep cliff faces of mountains stretching thousands of feet above the town. With seemingly endless options for hiking without traveling further than the edge of town, and both Jasper and Banff have easy access from the (relatively) warm valley floor to the cold snowy high mountain tops near town by tram (Jasper) or gondola (Banff).
On top of Whistlers Mountain near Jasper, AB

I really don't know why my three visits have each been separated by so many years. I would very much like to think that my next visit to the Canadian Rockies won't be so many years from now. We have already talked about returning in a couple years on a ski trip, or perhaps a future summer visit. However, I know that once back home in my comfortable life, the Canadian Rockies will seem too far away, too foreign, too cold. I will tell myself they are too far away to drive for a typical vacation. I will say that in the winter they are far too cold, even in the summer I'm sure I'll convince myself that I want to go to some place warmer. But maybe my daughters will remember this incredible place and demand a return trip, or perhaps I will remember to read this blog post and remind myself that it's worth the trip.
Athabasca Falls in Japser National Park

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