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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Alberta, Canada

Happy 147th Birthday, Canada!

Canada is one of the most multicultural countries on the planet not only because 80% of the people are recent immigrants from around the world but also it was one of the first countries to make multicultural ideology a part of its law and culture.  We proudly refer to ourselves as Italian-Canadian, Japanese-Canadian, Turkish-Canadian...
Yes, Canada also has some spectacular scenery.  In the Rocky Mountains there are four national parks − #Banff and #Jasper in Alberta and Yoho and Kootenay in British Columbia. Together they comprise an adjacent area (20,238 km2) that is half the size of Switzerland or the same size as the province of Antalya in #Turkey − with only two towns that predated the parks.  That is a lot of wilderness!  Did you know that all of Western Europe fits into Eastern Canada?  Here is a photographic celebration. 

See also related post Banff to Lake Louise Must See Sights

Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
Gorgeous Moraine Lake

There are lots of turquoise lakes caused by glacier flour, stone pulverized by the glaciers and so fine it stays suspended in the water reflecting light.  It also feels like flour.  Moraine Lake is one of our favourites and one of the best hikes starts from the parking lot.  A steep and sometimes narrow trail ascends to Larch Valley with dramatic views of the Wenkchemna Peaks (meaning Ten Peaks) surrounding Moraine Lake.    

Larch Valley Trail
Dramatic Larch Valley Trail

Rocky Mountain Sheep
Rocky Mountain Sheep

There is a lot of wildlife from Rocky Mountain Sheep to bears - even a lake that looks like a bear.

Peyto Lake

This lake is named after a 19th century guide Bill Peyto who took his horse-riding "tour groups" here; so they called it Peyto's Lake.  And it is still a popular viewpoint but now easily reached by car. 

Jasper National Park

Athabasca Glacier
Where have all the glaciers gone?

Driving the Icefield Parkway is one of the must-see things to do in Canada if not anywhere in the world.  Where else can you drive along wall-to-wall glacial lakes, glaciers and mountains all from the comfort of your car.   
Mount Edith Cavell and Lake Cavell
Mount Edith Cavell and Lake Cavell

Mount Edith Cavell and Lake Cavell are another favourite turquoise place.  The mountain was named in 1916 for Edith Cavell, an English nurse executed by the Germans during World War I for having helped allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands.    

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Fred the Camel, Dinosaur Provincial Park
Fred the Camel, Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils in the world.  Many specimens in museums around the world come from Dinosaur Provincial Park. 
Turkey may have fairy chimneys, but Alberta has hoodoos.  Actually they are the same thing and have the same causes:  an arid climate (so erosion is slow) and a harder cap rock that protects the softer rock underneath.   

Dinosaur Provincial Park
Storm strikes the desert
The interpretive program is not only worthwhile but necessary as access to the park is restricted to guided groups. Yes, you can get lost out there as we can confirm in one experience where we "lost" our group while taking photos.  Fortunately, I listened to our interpreters and remembered to follow the dry stream beds since they led to the river and thus the campground. 
This area of Alberta is a desert and has about the same annual rainfall as the Sahara.  So when it rains it can be spectacular and the next day the cacti flowers have bloomed! 

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park
Prairies Meet Rockies
Waterton Lakes National Park, a small park of 505 km2 (195 sq mi), is the furthest south and borders another great park, Glacier National Park in Montana.  Together they are a unique international park.  This photo is actually from outside the park driving along the wheat-growing prairies, the vast geographical space bull-dozed by massive glaciers during the ice age.  The same glaciers that carved out the largest freshwater lakes, the Great Lakes.   

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