Road trip to Jasper National Park

Just got back from our weekend getaway!

I had already gotten tired of Vancouver and convinced Tim to go on a road trip with me. So we threw some clothes in a bag and the next day we rented a car. Since we had gotten a Costco card we were hoping for a cheap trip. But because we made a drop in, there weren’t many cares to choose from and we ended up walking a bit around and finally found Riz. We got a medium-sized car for approximately $550 incl insurance and a limit driving range of 1500km. Also, we weren’t allowed to leave BC because it was a “local” car rental…

Reading  our Lonely Planet – British Columbia guidebook (we have tree LP guidebook for Canada!) we found the Rockies and Jasper National Park interesting, but they were just on the other side of the border to Alberta, the state east of BC. We thought “fudge it” and started driving in that direction.

Earlier I had come up with a game that every time I spotted something Danish I was allowed to hit Tim and he vise versa with thing from Sweden. Since there are brands like Ecco and others in the city I thought it a winning game for me (yea.. we are that kind a couple). I didn’t quite thing that one through… Sweden, apparently, have lots af Volvo trucks in Canada (or just everywhere) and since Denmark has produced ZERO cars I was the one with the bruised arm! Dont worry, he is a softy so he didn’t hit me hard.

 

First stop: Harrison Hot Springs

After getting out of Vancouver, which takes ages due to traffic and speed regulations, we saw a sign for Harrison Hot Springs and thought of it as a good place to make a stop. After a 30 min detour we got to a beautiful valley with a big lake. Even though it wasn’t mentioned in our guidebooks it was very touristic and filled with spa resorts who offered their own hot spring pool, spa treatments and everything else to make you as relaxed as possible. Until you see the bill!

We found a motel for $80/night (the cheapest and most dodgy there was), checked in to our room and went the public indoor hot spring. The water was about 37 degrees but since there is natural sulphur in the water you get tired faster than normal. So after 20 min we were done.

Also, like everywhere else in BC that we have seen, you can play golf. Not that we did, but I have never seen so many golf courses in my life!

We found a decent place to eat dinner where we were served by a retired rodeo cowboy and afterwards we found an awesome bar with the right after-skiing feel, that you look for in Canada. Tried some local beers, nothing special, and some shots of the weirdest looking alcohols on the shelf before heading back to our room.

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Harrison Hot Springs

 

Second stop: Clearwater

We slept in, so after breakfast and a walk along the lake, it was almost noon before we got back on the road. On the road nothing much happens.. you just take in the view, play car-games, eat junk and take pictures.

After what seems as a long trip up the BC-5 we finally gave in for the fatigue and found an inn in Clearwater, which is absolutely out in nowhere! At this point we were just satisfied with a meal and a movie in our room.

 

Third stop: Jasper (and the National Park)

Finally arrived after 2 hours drive from Clearwater. Again, we were a little late checking out, so arrived around 1pm. I have just before this trip gotten a local number, so I booked our hotel via an app. Still in the cheap end of hotels/motels it was pretty decent.

Jasper National Park is a more wildlife-rich part of the Canadian Rockies with rugged backcountry, vertiginous river canyons, exciting mountain-bike and tracking trails AND is the country’s eighth-oldest park. Luckily for us it is also known for easy-to-view wildlife! There is also an opportunity for skiing and snowboarding and the town of Jasper has a lot of outdoors activity shop, restaurants and places to sleep.

After checking in we found a hiking route we wanted to try: Old Forst Point Loop. A 4km moderate challenging trail with steep walk and an excellent townsite and mountain view! We took it easy and with our animal description in hand, we saw red squirrels and got very close to a pack af bighorn sheeps.

 

After that we wanted more! So we found another hiking trail: Wabasso Lake, that was about 7km long and followed a ridge with a view lakes and Mt. Edith Cavell. It was a little late in the afternoon, so we found ourself alone except from an older aussie couple. Very nice people and we ended up hiking together. We saw a pack of female elks and something alien in a lake.

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The nature and I
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Female Elk

At the end of the day we had walked 23.000 steps and were knackered. Still, looking to excite our taste buds, we got a table at Evil Dave’s Grill – Jaspers attempt to shake off the hiking grub image. They serve Canadian, Japanese fusion, which was surprisingly good.  We tried the Cowboy Sushi: grilled tenderloin rolled in sushi rice and nori and Malevolent Meatloaf: 100% lean‏ ground Alberta bison and wild boar bacon. We were a little quick on eating the Cowboy Sushi so the picture is the meal of a young couple sitting behind us. I was about to ask to take my picture when they started holding hands, closed their eyes and praying, making it all a little awkward.

The day after we checked out and drove 50km to Maligne Lake where we hoped to do some kayaking. having done this when I was living in Norway and Greenland I was looking forward to it. When we got there the lake was frozen and there was snow everywhere.. shows what we know. But the long drive there was not totally wasted. Along the way we got to see whitetail and mule deer and best of all a black bear! The king of the Canadian big five animals, which is:

  • Bear
  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Wolf
  • Deer

And I got three out of five! Woop woop! I saw the bear in a dried out lake and wasn’t sure of what I was seeing. But just to make sure that it wasn’t a bear we turned around the car, and lucky we did!

 

Fourth stop: Kamloops

After we saw the bear we got lunch in Jasper and went on our way back to Vancouver. It’s a 10 hour drive and we drove for about 6 hours before getting to Kamloops, were we found yet another dodgy motel. Kamloops seemed very nice and bigger than you would expect. The city center has a lot to offer but not enough to make the stay longer than half a day.

The day after we drove the last few hours home and even though we had exceeded our 1500km limit and drove out of BC (which we didn’t say of course) there were no extra expenses!

To be honest I’m glad to be home again. Driving quickly get tiresome but give it a couple of weeks then I probably can’t wait to get behind the wheel again.

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