Summer, Part V—Banff & Jasper

Banff & Jasper National Parks
Canada
early-September 2013

There are three things I learned as we played tourist over the long weekend: (1) Parks Canada is significantly better funded than the National Park Service; (2) international visitation for the Canadian national parks dramatically exceeds that of our own crown jewels; and (3) my—oh, my—the sheer amount of people, and the Disneyland-style directions for herding them all into a few places, is numbing. Parks Canada and their vendors have a well-oiled machine designed to give you just enough of an outdoor-wilderness experience without taxing you too much, extracting a great deal of money from you in the process. I actually had a surprisingly difficult time finding information about things to do in the park that didn’t involve waiting in long lines.

It was a quick trip, as much for reconnaissance as for mere enjoyment, so we rarely took the opportunity to explore off the beaten path. After a day and a half of constant queuing, this became overwhelming. So we explored a little more, escaping the crowds only for an evening as I fished a rather minor lake on a rather minor trail. Still, it was beautiful, and we will be back and armed with more resolve, more information, and more time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Lake Louise—the canoes cost C$40 an hour.
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAthabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefield
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA wider view of the Columbia Icefield complex
 
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe traditional shot of Moraine Lake. Search, and you’ll see a dozen other photographs from this same vantage point, but it’s still just as stunning.
 
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALake Louise again.
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpper Victoria Glacier
 
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