Our next destination is Glacier National Park. We have heard that the “Going to the Sun” Road is the best road in the States (There are so many best roads that maybe they voted on their best roads and they all came out first equal!!!). Anyway it is a very old road built through the Rocky Mountains, with some amazing views of the glaciers. We are very excited, especially as it is still open. As soon as it snows it will be closed for the season. The weather is still gorgeous so we are on a roll. Bring on more National Parks. We head north doing lots of driving, stopping for the usuals – food & fuel. Lots of farming areas, so we tuck up a side road for the night. The next day we pick out some scenic routes – but they really need to cut down some trees before they can be called scenic! Finally we arrive at our destination……but no. At the Park Entrance we are told we are too big to drive the road. Not too long, not too wide (as most motorhomes are) but too tall. We can go in part way and come back out. They even take our rego no to make sure we are obedient. So we head in as far as we are allowed. A lovely scenic reflective lake, lots of leafy trees & a great river. Sadly we turn & head back out. (If it was still summer we could have taken the free shuttle bus!) We have to skirt the outside of the park & re-enter on the east side. There are 3 entrances on this side so we will try all 3.
Bonus: It is a really lovely drive that we hadn’t planned on doing. We stop for some really good Huckleberry Pie & ask the owner about camping John even cons the owners out of a free T-shirt for taking a photo of the truck. We are now in Indian land & will get charged $10 to camp anywhere, so he recommends the southern entrance to the park – Two Medicine Lake. So in we go. Fortunately there are a few spots empty & we settle in for the night. Great views, big fire pit with firewood & lots of visitors. Three young guys, all wannabe Winter Olympiads, share our site for the night (Memo: must remember to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics to see if they get in) and a lovely couple, Kelly & Eli, who make DVD’s. The next morning John gives them an interview, while I head off to take photos – yes I know: excuses!
Time to move on. This time to “Going to the Sun” east side, but here we discover we can only drive in a few kilometers – we thought we could go a lot further. Oh well, north we head to the last entrance – Many Lakes. And for us this is the most beautiful section. A great old Chateau set on a shimmering lake, surrounded by huge mountains. The bonus is 2 black bears (Finally!) – The first we see run up a bank, cross the road & head up another steep bank. Boy he can move fast. The second was high up the hill munching on grass & roots. At the end of the road there are a few very long treks to glaciers. We decide not to spend the rest of the day hiking, but to head north in to Canada.
Before we know it we have crossed the border. Usually it is no drama, but John has been collecting spent bullet cases and pushing them into the tread of our spare wheels on the back of GR2. The border officials consider this a bit suss, and so decide to search GR2. A pretty fast look, and we are off. Canada here we come.
What a change of scenery. This first part of Alberta is flat, flat, flat. So we just drive on until early evening and find a convenient Walmart near Calgary to stop for the night. Dinner out tonight as we are in town – Ocotoks to be precise. It is pretty chilly, and the next morning is drizzly. Fortunately it is Saturday so we decide on a “drive through” exploration of Calgary. Really the only way to explore on a miserable cold day and it is just another modern city. Of course we stock up on groceries & the cheapest diesel in town – then on to our next destination - The Icefield Parkways. We have been here years ago when everything was covered in snow, so it will be great to see it again. The weather clears & the drive is magic. First stop: Cranmore, to stop at the info centre, use their dump station & have lunch before heading to the very touristy town of Banff. Wouldn’t have recognized it – and we stayed here last time. Finally on to Lake Louise. We stop at the overflow carpark to get on the free shuttle – but it has finished for the day – so we drive up instead. First to Lake Moraine – lines of cars parking & queues waiting for the shuttle. We have found Chinatown. It is wall to wall tourists – and it starts to snow. A quick dash to look at the viewpoint before heading to Lake Louise. Again, many more tourists. Too late in the day to go on a hike so we console ourselves with a hot chocolate at the lovely Lake Louise Chateau. Then we nick back to the overflow carpark for the night. In the morning we find a few others have joined us.
We spend the next day driving the rest of the magnificent parkway. We stop at lots of the viewpoints to ooh & aah, and then stop at Colombia Glacier to do the touristy thing – ride up the glacier in a huge 4x4 snow bus. Pretty awesome. Finally some great waterfalls and the town of Jasper. We head out of the park & on to yet another Walmart in Hinton.
Coming soon: The long drive to Yellowknife.