Day Five – Banff AB to Prince George BC
Miles: 420.4
Elapsed Time: 11:02

Who would have thought we would be eating breakfast again at McDonald’s but it was really the only thing open. We started by riding north on Bow Valley Parkway rather than C1 which I highly recommend. We practically had the road to ourselves as rode the twisting black ribbon through the valley that eventually took us all the way to Jasper. We stopped in Castle Junction for some pics of Castle Mountain which seems to pretty famous. Interestingly it was named in 1858 for its perfect resemblance of a castle but its name was changed in 1946 to honor US President Eisenhower and then reverted back in 1979. Maybe we ticked off the Canadians for some reason. Of course after four years of Jimmy Carter who could blame them. Anyway we continued on toward Lake Louise again, gassed up and went on our way in short order. We were now on Icefields Parkway and the scenery was really breathtaking even the road was not. We were in full scenery mode looking at the road just enough to stay between the lines. Our first stop was at Bow Lake. The lake with the back drop of mountains makes this one of the most scenic lakes in the region. The waters were a greenish color, crystal clear and provided perfect reflections. We continued and pulled over for a stop overlooking the Mistaya canyon. Anywhere you stop the views are great so we just tried to take in as much as possible. We passed Lady Wilson Falls which can only be seen in the distance but we likely would not have noticed it had we not already seen it on Google Earth and knew where to look. The valley was narrowing as we rode north and often times we were riding right at the base of the mountains. We had another turn out at Bridal Veil Falls which is well marked but off in the distance. Next we stopped at the Athabasca glacier which seemed to be a very popular spot. The glacier is one of the “toes” of the Columbia Icefield and due to its proximity to the Icefields Parkway it is the most visited glacier in North America. The glacier recedes at a rate of about 8 feet per year so over the last 125 years it has been measured it has receded almost one mile. The yearly progress has been clearly marked so one can see where the glacier came to for any given year dating back to 1888. The regression looked fairly uniform to me so one can draw their own conclusion on global warming relative to this glacier. We rode down close to the glacier but to go any further would have taken a lot of time. We continued north and came to Sunwapta Falls. These falls are generated by the runoff of the Athabasca Glacier and really get going in the spring but even in Mid-Summer the water was really going strong; See the video (#1, #2). The falls drop an impressive 60 feet and there are many view points to be had.

We continued a short 15 miles to
Athabasca Falls which is even taller at 80 feet but it is also wider giving a less impressive look but the volume of water going over the falls is quite impressive, see the video here.

It was pushing 2:00 and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet so we decided to stop in Jasper at the
Jasper Brewing Company and have some lunch. I don’t remember what we ate but we each had a pint of the Rockhopper IPA and it was really quite good. We still had 200 miles to ride so we needed to get going. Leaving Jasper we began our ascent up Yellowhead Pass. This pass is not very high nor is the grade very steep which is why it was chosen for two canadian Railways but not the original Canadian Pacific whose owner deemed this pass to far north. On the backside we continued on C16 surrounded by mountains and passed on the East side of the beautiful Moose Lake where we would have stopped had there been a good place. Next we where in Mt Robson which is a small town at the base of the mountain by the same name and really nothing more than a gas station and restaurant. We paid our $5.33 per gallon and moved on. We wanted to stop for a picture of the mountain and did so at the end of the long straightaway leaving Mt Robson. We contemplated a stop at Rearguard Falls but it was getting late and we wanted to get to Prince George certainly before dark. We would only make one more stop before Prince George and that was on the Bowron RIver. Nothing more really than a stop for a brief break. Once we had passed Tete Jaune Cache the road began to follow the Fraser River and the valley became very wide and eventually the mountains diminished to just the flat plain. Once in Prince George we quickly realized this was not that great of place. Our hotel was borderline at best and there was practically no place in town to eat. We grabbed a quick bite and went and got a $24 12 pack and called it a night.