Thursday, June 12, 2014

A 'ferry' tale road trip day seven, June 8, 2014

Homeward bound today. We purchased an annual National Parks pass earlier in the year so decided to take advantage of it on this final leg of our road trip stopping at a number of the places we've "always" wanted to visit. After breakfast we headed up to Mount Revelstoke National Park. When we stopped at the gate we were informed that the road was only open up to kilometer twelve for a couple of reasons; first that there were a bear and cubs in the area and secondly that there was still quite a bit of snow higher up. We were also warned of another bear lower down, almost at the gate. We drove up and enjoyed the views and twisty roads but didn't see any more bears.

At the park gate.

One of many great vistas

We were a little disappointed we weren't able to get to the top but that gave us a bit more time to enjoy the rest of the day. Made our way back down, rejoined Highway #1 and headed east. The stretch of highway between Revelstoke and Golden makes its way up and over Rogers Pass but before getting there we stopped at the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk adn picnic area on the banks of the Illecillewaet River. Not a very appealing name I agree but it was worth the little detour. The parking area is a very short drive off the highway and is well signed. The main attraction here is the boardwalk through some valley bottom wetland habitat. Many different species of birds come through here on their various migrations which makes the spot popular with bird watchers.

Trail map for Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk.

Sharon on the boardwalk.

Some of the birds that frequent the area.

Just east of the summit of Rogers Pass (1330m/4365ft) is Rogers Pass Discovery Center that is worth a stop. There was no snow on the ground this trip which is a huge contrast to the more than 6ft we found there when we were through the pass in late April. There are a total of eight snow sheds in the pass, three west of the summit and five east.

First of the eight snow sheds

Avalanche debris on the side of the road

Here we go....

So over the pass we go and start the 80km (50 mile) mostly downhill run into Golden BC.

Eastbound and down into Golden BC

East of Golden approaching the Kicking Horse rest area at the bottom of Ten Mile Hill

We didn't stop in Golden but continued on to our next destination, Wapta Falls. This is another of those stops we've often said we should do but were either anxious to get home or didn't have a park pass but... today is the day!!If you're not paying attention the turnoff is easy to miss. The trailhead is not marked on the TCH for westbound traffic as there is no left turn lane here. Continue 3 km to the west entrance of the park, turn and come back to access it from the eastbound lane. Once you do leave the highway it's about 2km up to the  parking lot. There were quite a number of cars in the lot which was assuring. The trail up to the falls is 2.4km (1.5 miles) one way and except for the last quarter or so is relatively flat. The trail reaches the river quite a bit above the falls and there are two routes that take you down to the bottom. The first is quite steep and provides some really impressive views of the falls. The other slightly longer route has a gentler slope but doesn't have the views of the other one. We took the first route down and the second route back up.

The road up to the Wapta Falls trailhead

The trailhead

Typical trail conditions

Admiring the view at the top of the falls

Lots of little inukshuks.... this one is my favorite

Wapta Falls

It took us about two hours to hike up to the falls, spend a little time admiring the view and return to the parking lot. Another of those "why did we wait so long to stop here" moments! 

Picturesque Field BC

Rundle Mountain

Entering Banff AB

Back to the highway and further eastward through Field BC and over the Kicking Horse Pass, which at 1643m (5390ft) is the highest point on the Trans Canada Highway, and into Banff for our last meal on the road. Our favorite place to eat in Banff is the Old Spaghetti Factory. The atmosphere is great, as are the food and the prices. I don't think we've ever been really disappointed with any meals here. 

We took a stroll after supper and picked up a couple of last minute gifts and then headed home retracing our route along Highway 1A through Morley and Cochrane and then home.

Homeward bound through Banff National Park.

McDougall Memorial Church, west of Cochrane AB

Sweeping vistas looking over the Bow Valley south west to the Rocky Mountains.

We have thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Driving the so-called backroads or minor highways really slowed the pace down which I think we both needed. Driving on the major byways always seems so rushed and hectic. Our chosen route had generally lower speed limits, light traffic, great scenery and lots of twists, turns and rolling roads. Thanks for following along; we hope you've enjoyed the ride with us. Stay tuned as we are starting to plan our next big trip!


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