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Top Vacation Spots in Canada
Banff

The town of Banff is one of the most beautiful mountain resorts in the world. Banff National Park attracts over three million visitors a year. They come to climb mountains, ski, hike, cycle, ride horses, fish, canoe, watch wildlife, look at the scenery, take photos, and breathe fresh mountain air.

Gondola ride: This gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain is the best way to see Banff...from above. The ride takes 8 minutes and will put you among the peaks. There is also a LIFT, which goes up Mt. Norquay for a beautiful view of the Rockies.

Lake Minnewanka cruise: Ideal trip for summer scenery.

Banff hot springs: "The" thing to do in Banff is to take a dip in the hot springs. Water in the Upper Hot Springs has a winter temperature of 48 degrees, and a summer temperature of 55. The discovery of the Cave and Basin Hot Springs in 1883 led to the formation of Banff Park itself. The pool is now open from June to September;

Relaxing things to do: Meander partway up Tunnel Mountain to St. Julien Road, to the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts. In the marshlands along Vermillion Lakes Road, you will see a variety of wildlife. Visit Bow Falls, a 30-minute hike along the river from the bridge on Banff Avenue. On Bow River, take a look at the strange pillars of rock formed by erosion when unconsolidated material was carried away by the river, leaving "statues" of the harder stuff. The Fenland Trail on the west edge of town is a sure bet for wildlife.


Lake Louise

Lake Louise may be the most famous lake in Canada, and certainly is the most photographed. The name used to be more fittingly, Emerald Lake, but was renamed in honor of Queen Victoria's daughter. Framing the emerald lake are the Beehive Mountain to the right, Fairview Mountain to the left, and the majestic Victoria glacier in the center. The always calm, blue-green water reflects a perfect mirror image of the scene. Chateau Lake Louise sits like a castle on a hill, overlooking all this splendor. Walk up Victoria Glacier. Lake Louis is one very beautiful spot!

This area is more than one lake along. Only eight miles farther is another arguably, just as beautiful scene... Moraine Lake and the Valley of 10 Peaks, which is depicted on the back of the Canadian $20 bill. Near Lake Louise, Highway 1A branches west toward the Continental watershed. From here all waters flow either west to the Pacific or east to the Atlantic. You can see this principle demonstrated at a creek at the picnic area.


The Icefield Parkway

A short distance outside Lake Louise is the beginning of the Ice field Parkway, 143 miles through Canada's most spectacular scenery to the town site of Jasper. There are over 100 glaciers visible along the way. Wildlife abounds along its entire length, and the physical beauty of the mountain scenery defies description.

Bow Pass is the highest point along the parkway. The glacial waters of beautifully tranquil Bow Lake reflect the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Across the lake can be seen part of the Waputik Icefield, straddling the Great Divide. A magnificent view of a classic Rocky Mountain Lake can be had by following a short secondary road to Peyto Lake Viewpoint.

Farther along the Parkway at Saskatchewan River Crossing is the Park Warden station and interpretive center. Here too, is one of the few places along the Parkway where you can get refreshments. Just south of the lodge, a viewpoint offers a great vista of the Mistaya, Howse, and Saskatchewan River Valleys. To the west can be seen the highest peak in the park, Mr. Forbes (11,811 feet).

Just when you might become weary of so much magnificence, the road bends slightly to the west, and before you looms the grandeur of the Columbia Icefield, 150 square miles of ice and snow, and the largest body of ice in the Rockies.

Visible from the highway are the Mount Athabasca and the Dome and Athabasca Glaciers. The Athabasca Glacier is advancing and retreating... the rate of melt at its toe is greater than its downward flow. As it retreats it leaves behind a glacial deposit, which is essentially, rock debris. Along the Parkway at Goat Lookout, pause to look at the panorama view of the Valley. The scenery will continue all the way to Jasper.


Jasper

Located at the confluence of the Athabasca and Miette Rivers, Jasper is in a broad valley. It's a pretty place, with shops along its main street, selling a full range of souvenirs and native crafts. It chief attraction, however, is the number of beauty spots that are close at hand. A gondola ride up the Whistlers Mountain offers fine views of the Athabasca Valley.

Pyramid and Patricia Lakes are 4 1/2 miles away. Another of Canada's top beauty spots is Maligne Canyon... a spectacular limestone gorge, with turquoise pools, underground rivers, and cascading waterfalls. It's 1.8 miles from Jasper. Follow the Yellowhead Highway for another spectacular view of Mount Robson... descent into Cariboo Country to your resort on the historic Carlboo Wagon Road.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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