We started out on our trip early on Friday September 3. We were headed for Kamloops that night, so we decided to start out earlier, as we were going to be meeting a couple of the fire information officers for the fire centers located in Kamloops. Since we arrived in Kamloops early, we decided that we would head to Mr. Mikes Restaurant, and then we still had some extra time, so we headed for William McArthur Island Park, and this is a very neat park. There are so many activities that happen within this facility. There is baseball, track and field, walking etc. We then headed to the fire centers, and we were just expecting to meet these officers, instead they were able to show us around, and show us what happens during the typical fire season. It was very informative.
Early the next morning, we pack up, and leave for Banff. The drive to Banff is a very long drive, so we decided that we should start out really early in the morning. We went to Salmon Arm to gas up, and then as a usual ritual when we go to Sicamous, we have to stop at the Dutchmen Dairy Milk. The milkshakes were delicious as normal.
Once we stopped in Sicamous, we carried on Highway one towards Banff. We went through Revelstoke, and then Golden. We decided to stop in Field, which is on the border of Alberta, and we took some of the photos, that we would normally see with the highway webcam at Field. It was very interesting. This was the last stop that we made until we got to Lake Louise.
Once in the Lake Louise area, we decided that we were going to go up the hill, and look at Moraine Lake. We didn’t get to see the actual lake itself, but we saw the rocks beside the lake which is what a “moraine” is. We also saw that there was a huge amount of traffic, and parking that was taken , which was one of the number one reasons we didn’t stop and park, is there was lots of people in the area at the time, and parking in this area is a very cumbersome task. We were told that Moraine Lake would be a good place to see some animals, but because it was so busy around there, there wouldn’t be any animals.
The first thing that we did when we got to the bottom of the road, was to go to the Lake Louise Information center to get a national park pass, as you need one of these if you’re going to be stopping and observing various things within the park. After we got the pass, we decided that we were going to go and get some lunch, since we hadn’t eaten really anything except for snacks on our travel up to Banff. We stopped at the Lake Louise Family Restaurant, which is located on the second floor in the main mall that they have. The food was fairly good, but be prepared to spend the dollars, as it is not extremely cheap. Once we have had our lunch, we decided that we were going to start and head towards Canmore where we were staying that night.
On our way towards Canmore, we thought that we would attempt to take the Bow Valley Parkway, which is another area where there is supposed to be some animals, but we didn’t see any, I am guessing that we probably too early as it is usually before sunset, or just after dawn. The parkway was beautiful though so we enjoyed driving up it. There are many sites that you’re able to see if you’re willing to hike off of the Bow Valley Parkway such as Johnston Canyon.
We get to Canmore, and we go to our hotel which is the Quality Inn Chateau – Canmore . It was a very nice room, and very enjoyable. I would personally recommend this accommodation for anyone who wants a luxury type stay for reasonable rates. Join the Choice Hotels, and you will save on your visit here.
After getting settled into our hotel room, we determine that we want to go out for some further investigation to find animals, as one of the posts that we saw in our room was on “cougar, bear and elk alert”. So we asked the hotel person, where would be the best area to see animals, and he recommended the “Canmore Nordic Center”. There was a bear warning posted in this area, but there were no animals in this area as there was a wedding that was currently going on, so it was far too many people in this location, so we thought that we would continue on further up the road.
The road past the Canmore Nordic Center, lead to the Spray Lakes Area, as well as the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. When we headed up towards that area, we saw a sign warning people of “prescribed burning” taking place, so we didn’t head up all the way to these areas, but we did go up to the second lake along the road. Over on the side of the road near the second lake there was some rock climbers, attempting their fate on the slope. On the way down from this hill, it was simply stunning. It showed the entire Canmore Valley area, and it was very good. We took some pictures of this area, but some of which were out of focus.
When we reached the bottom, we decided that it would be time for some dinner, so we went to the Rocky Mountain Flatbreads Co. They were quoted as “the best pizza” in town, so we decided that we would go and taste the pizza to see what we thought. It was delicious, and I would recommend it for anyone who is wanting to have a good pizza.
The next morning, we make another go of the Bow Valley Parkway, since it was earlier in the morning, but still no animals, I guess because of the rain that was happening. Then we thought that we would attempt the Lake Minnewanka Loop since we were close enough. So we go up there, and there were no animals until we went to the rolling meadows. In the meadows, there were 4 deer playing. We were able to get some good pictures of them.
After this, we head towards Lake Louise, hoping to get some breakfast, since we hadn’t had any that morning, however, the place where we attempted to go at the Husky Gas Station area, was really full, and wouldn’t be ready for about 10 or 15 minutes, and we were not wanting to wait that long, so we then contemplated of going to the restaurant that we did the day before, however, the costs there were quite high. We finally decided to get some groceries from the market, and then eat some of that for breakfast.
When we were finished having our breakfast, we then ventured to the Icefields Parkway. We were going to attempt the first part of the Forestry Trunk road, however, the weather that day, and the day before was hard rain, we decided that it would be better to attempt the Forestry Trunk the next morning. We went to the Icefields Parkway. The first thing that we saw as we entered this highway, was a “bear warning sign” so we knew there would be a very good chance of seeing a bear along this route. Within about 3 or 4 km of this road, we saw the black bear that they were talking about. It was chomping on buffalo berries, which is one of the seasonable berries that they love. We were also surprised to see the “stunning serene beauty” of the Icefields Parkway. They were simply wonderful glaciated slopes that were simply stunning.
We veered off of the Icefields Parkway at the Saskatchewan River Crossing, to access Highway 11 aka the David Thompson Highway. Again, there was more beauty on this highway. On this highway, you will pass such areas as the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, as well as the Abraham Lake area, which are a couple of places to note. We then get to the small area of Nordegg, which holds a lot of historical value. We had lunch at their little tiny restaurant, which reminded me a lot of Barkerville. We finish lunch, and we had to pay in the gift shop, as there was no interact available in the actual restaurant. We ask the girl sitting at the desk if there was anything that she recommended in Rocky Mountain House, as this was our next stop. She mentioned one of her favorite restaurants is Grillers.
So we thank her, and then we go out on our way to Rocky Mountain House. We arrive in Rocky Mountain House, and go to our stop, which is Holiday Inn Express. Rocky Mountain House, is a smaller city, which reminds me sort of an area like Smithers, or a bit of a larger scale Squamish. For dinner we went to Grillers, which was highly recommended to us by the girl in Nordegg. The steak was the juiciest and the most succulent steak we have had.
We then decide that we are to explore around Rocky Mountain House, and also to get some supplies for the next day, as we wanted to leave early in order to attempt the next leg of our journey.
The next morning, we go along the same stretch of Hwy 11 aka the David Thompson Highway to Nordegg, which is the entrance point to the Forestry Trunk Road. On route to this location, we came across a couple of deer along the roadway, which we were able to photograph. We then arrive to the Forestry Trunk Road.
The Forestry Trunk Road, is for most of the way was like a roller coaster, like up and down, etc. Some recreational areas of note are Brown Creek, Brazeau River, and Pembina River. Shortly after the Pembina point, it went to Highway 40. Although the road is basically very straight in parts, you need to exercise caution, and go slow enough that you’re able to slow down if an animal does pop out. We had this situation with a couple of bucks that came out of the forest and onto the road. Luckily we were able to stop within about 150 m of them. We also saw a deer on the side of the road as well. Another couple of words of caution, especially on Hwy 40, when it becomes a little bit narrower, and steeper are: active logging and/or mining vehicles, as well as snow being possible most of the year. Please keep this in mind when you’re venturing up in the last stretch before Hinton.
We arrive in Hinton, and find our hotel, which was right along Hwy 16, so it wasn’t very hard to find. We were staying at the Better Canadian Motor Inns for this night. The room was pretty good, and with our accommodation key, we were able to get a discount at the either the “Ranchers” Restaurant” or the “Joey’s Only Restaurant”.
Since we arrived in Hinton so early that day, we decided that we were going to look around for some different roads etc., in order to try and find some animals. We go to the Hwy 40 towards Alaska. There is a provincial park in this area called “William Switzer”. We first looked around at Jonas Lake, which is a recreational area that is suitable for kayaking, canoeing, and many other water sports, and also picnicking. We then decide that we are going to find the Athabasca Nordic Center, which is located just a little ways down from where Jonas Lake was. We get up to the Athabasca Nordic Center, and notice a “bear in the area” sign. We also noticed a relatively fresh animal print, which seems like it would have come from something like a moose. Once we finish at the Nordic Center area, which wasn’t very long due to construction in the area, we look for the road that says “Pepper Lake”. We go down this road, and caution was required since there was construction in this area too, but with a deep ditch on one side. We then have to go on another road, and then go over this 500 m long one lane bridge, to the other side of the Athabasca River to the other side and look around. This is on the Hinton side.
When we get back to Hinton, we decide that it would be time to get some dinner, so we decide that we will try the Ranchers Restaurant that was recommended to us by the hotel. We decided upon the Sports Grill instead of the restaurant, so we had our dinner there, and the food was fairly good here as well.
After dinner, we go back on the road to see some more roads. This time, we decide that we would go to the part of Hwy 40 that said “Old Entrance”. This led us to Brule. There is a lake around here. We go along Swans Crossing, which is one of the CN rail areas, but it started to get very rocky, and the sunset is close to happening, so we know that it would not be a good idea to go any further, as this is an area where deer are very likely, and other animals as well. We get back to Hinton, and prepare for the next day which will include Jasper.
The next morning we head for Jasper. The first route that we go along is the Miette Hot Springs Road. The first point that we go to is the “Punch Bowl Falls” area. This is a very deep gorge, and is very beautiful. We then head further up to the Miette Hot Springs Road, and we saw the Fiddle River, which too is a very deep, but yet beautiful gorge. Finally we get closer to the Miette Hot Springs, we come across wildlife; big horn sheep. They were right on the road. Parks Canada Officials were driving the opposite way as we were trying to coax the big horn sheep off the road. We get to the end of the Miette Hot Springs area, and it is one of the commercialized types of hot springs as that of Ainsworth Hot Springs. We decided not to stop, as we still had a long ways to go that day.
We noticed along the Jasper Parkway that there was very little wildlife in the area. We did see some deer along the road, but there was way more, the last time that we went through the area.
The next road that we go up is the Maligne Lake Road. All along this road, there were warnings about Bears, and also about Caribou. This road is a very windy, and very steep road. Caution should be used to ensure that that these animals remain safe. Please note that the caribou, are now threatened in different areas, so please try and preserve their lives, by going slower. It is a very pretty area though, but it was very wet due to a lot of rain. There are a lot of famous trails such as the Opal Hills, Sky Line trails etc. that can be found in this area, but caution should be exercised when using these trails such as necessary bear precautions, being self-sufficient, as well as well equipped to deal with snow and other conditions through the year.
Jasper Park Lodge is also found along the Maligne Lake Road. This 4-5 star hotel is a very nice looking area. They also have a golf-course at this resort as well. Please note that this area is active Elk Area. If you plan on going into this area within the rutting season, be prepared with the following: DO not get in between a female (without antlers), and a male (with antlers), as the male will charge your vehicle or you if you’re in between to protect the female. Also, try and give as much room as possible if you notice them around. Please report to the nearest facility to report the sighting of the elk when you’re able to, to warn others of the elk around.
Along the same road as the lodge, there is also a recreational area that leads you to the Edith and Annette Lakes. Please note that these are hiking trails of varying difficulty, and you might want to be well prepared for wildlife encounters, snow etc. depending on the route that you decide to take.
We then go back onto Highway 16, and enter the town of Jasper. This is also a good area to see elk in the meadows around the town. We didn’t see any, but there is a good possibility. The town, is also the hub to many other recreational areas such as Patricia Lake, Pyramid Lakes, Mount Edith Cavell Road etc. We decided that this would be a good opportunity to eat some lunch, so we decided to go to Smitty’s Restaurant, which is located in the heart of Jasper.
Once we have finished lunch, we go on our way towards McBride. We head towards Mount Robson. It was fairly cloudy and rainy in this area, but we did stop in the Visitor area for a little while. Here, you’re able to access many different popular trails such as Berg Lake Trails, Fitzsimmons’ Trail etc. Please note that these trails are wilderness in nature, and you must be self-sufficient, be prepared to see any wildlife i.e. (moose, deer, bear, wolves etc.) and be prepared for any type of weather conditions (snow, rain, hail, thunder and lightning, sun etc.).
Once we were finished at Mt. Robson, we continued our way to McBride. We get here about 2 p.m. so we decide that we are going to go and find our accommodations in McBride. We were staying at North Country Lodge, and that was fairly easy to find since McBride is a fairly small area. There are only about 4 restaurants in the whole town.
We asked some locals of where to see some animals in this area. We were told that just before sunset, that we would be able to see tons of deer just outside of McBride. So we thanked for the help, and then we decided that we would go out to try our luck before dinner. We went down the road to the airport, and were able to see some deer here, so we took some pictures of them. Then we headed towards near the bridge to try our luck at some animals. We didn’t see any animals, but we saw lots of animal tracks, namely; bear, deer, moose, raccoon, and possibly wolf or coyote prints.
We then went to the Sun Valley Restaurant for dinner, and had a good meal. Then we confirmed with the worker from this restaurant that deer were easy to find. After dinner, we went out for a little while, and no sooner had we been out for a few minutes, there were several of deer including buck. We got some really good pictures, but all I can say is “massive amounts of deer”.
The next morning we headed out to Prince George from McBride. There were two major provincial parks that we passed through on the way to Prince George. They were the Sugar Bowl Grizzly Den, as well as the West Twin Park. These two parks were very big. Once we get to Prince George we decide that we were going to get some breakfast. We stop at the White Spot and that is as good as always.
A little bit of time after we finished breakfast, we then headed out to the West Lake Road, aka the Blackwater River Road, and headed towards Quesnel. This is the famous road that the Alexander McKenzie Camp is along. Buffalo berries lined most of the roads, so during the fall, you might come across some bear that might be eating some of these berries. When we get to the intersection of Blackwater Road and Batuni Road, we saw a forest fire camp. They were starting to disassemble the camp. Please use extreme caution when using the West Batuni Road, as this is where the Pelican Lake fire happened, and the roads are okay, but the fires have loosened quite a bit of the roots, so during periods of heavy wind, rain or snow, you might want to consider going down another road. We get to Quesnel relatively early.
We stayed once again at the Travellers Lodge in Quesnel, which is located right across from the hospital, and it is a very comfortable place to stay. The owners are the same as we had last year, and are very friendly.
Once we get settled into our accommodation, and have stayed there for a little while, we decided that it would be a good time to start our exploration for animals. We headed towards the Hydraulic Road which goes past Dragon Lake, and then takes a loop back to Kersley. We got to the point of the Greville ferry, and then had to turn around since it was getting a lot closer to sunset, and we didn’t want to be on these roads after dark, as there are a lot of deer around. We got some really good pictures of deer in this area as well, so it was really good.
Once we get back to Downtown Quesnel, we go to Mr. Mikes Steakhouse for our dinner. It was delicious as always, and then we went back to our hotel room, as the next day is going to be a very long travel day as well.
Early the next day, we head for William’s Lake. We decide that we will venture down the Soda Creek Road. We thought that this would lead all the way down, but it didn’t. We then learned from reading the Backroads Mapbook, that we would have had to go a long several of roads to come across the connections to the William’s Lake area. We then went back onto Hwy 97, and almost ran into a major hay bale not too long down the road. We were able to swerve and avoid it.
We decided that it would be a good idea to stop for some lunch, so we went to Dennys in William’s Lake, and it was very good, and it was good to see their new menu.
Once we were finished lunch, we went to Hwy 20, to start our journey out to Nimpo Lake. We were surprised to see the amount of devastation that we saw on Young Road where there was several of destroyed cattle fences. Also on the upper part of the highway where there were spots where there was still steam coming up from the ground. We also noticed the leaves changing color along this stretch, and that was the pretty part of it.
We arrive at Nimpo Lake, at Stewart’s Lodge. As always, this lodge was just as we expected it to be. We had some very scrumptious meals prepared by the head cook Richard. Duncan the owner, is dedicated as ever to his work. This year he had his son help with the dock assisting. He was very good with this as well, and it was much appreciated too. We will enjoy many years to come hopefully with this lodge.
After leaving the lodge, we headed home via Hwy 97 towards Clinton. We headed by Downing Provincial Park, and Kelly Lake, We headed up the ever known Pavillion Mountain Road, and then we arrived into Lillooet. We then went over the Duffey Lake Road, and then to Whistler and the Callaghan Valley area, and then towards Vancouver.
This marks the end of this trip! Hope everyone had good reading, and keep posted for future trips.