Off the Beaten Path in the Canadian Rockies

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010

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One question we’ve been asking each of our Canadian Rockies insiders during interview is if there are any places they really love in Banff and Jasper National Park that often get overlooked by visitors. This happens a lot in such vast mountainous areas like Jasper and Banff. They’re so big that, for whatever reason, people accidentally overlook some of the parks most amazing areas.

Pyramid Mountain in Jasper National Park.

For this first edition, we’re using information gathered from interviews with Parks Canada Jasper media representative Thea Mitchell, Marc Pinel, a Parks Canada Banff Information Centre employee since 2008 and founder of the Grand Nature Club, and Brad White, a Parks Canada for about 28 years, who is currently a Mountain Safety Program Specialist, doing Mountain Rescue and Avalanche forecasting and control.

We’re going to look at these off the beaten path places in that order, starting with Thea Mitchell, who recommended three spots.

1. Pyramid Lake: This lake on the Pyramid Bench near the town of Jasper is beautiful, but for whatever reason, says Mitchell, doesn’t get nearly the traffic as nearby Lake Annette. “There’s a beach there… It’s a great place for canoeing and fishing. It’s a quieter place, a lot of locals go there,” she says.

2. Beauty Creek: “I personally went in there last week and hiked,” she told “It’s also known as Stanley Falls. There’s kind of an unofficial parks trail alongside it, and it’s just kind of a spectacular little water falls. ” You’ll find this spot on Icefields Parkway between Jasper and the Icefields, she says. To get more info, stop at the Parks Canada office in Jasper at: 500 Connaught Dr.

3. Moberly Homestead: “This is an old homestead representing the people on the land prior to the formation of the park,” Mitchell says. “It’s a good way for people to get to know the Miette history.” You’ll find it 8 km east of Jasper, and then another 12 km down the Snaring Campground turnoff.

Marc Pinel had just one quick recommendation for us:

4. Hiking along Icefields Parkway: “Everybody goes on the Icefield Parkway, they stop at the different view points, but they don’t stop for a hike,” he told us. “There’s nice hiking to do in this area.” To find out about the many great hikes here, stop in at a visitors centre in Banff or Jasper.

Of course, Brad White had some gems for use as well:

5. Sunshine Meadows: “It’s getting more popular, but you to take a bus to get up to the Sunshine, which is a ski hill with a closed access road. There’s a great, great bunch of hikes up there that are all through rolling alpine meadows,” White told us. “You don’t have to follow necessarily the set trails, but there’s a bunch of short peaks to scramble. It’s got fabulous views of little likes, alpine wildflowers, and Mt. Assinboine, which is the matterhorn of the Rockies.”

6. Red Deer: “There’s a bunch of nice places that are a little further from the road,” White says. “The Red Deer area outside of Lake Louise is a great place to go, and you can do it in a day or a 2-3 day lake. It’s not busy at all in the campgrounds.” Parks Canada will have info about how to get to the Red Deer area.

7. Skoki Valley: “All of these are places where you can get out of the trees to long see mountain views, open vistas, lots of wildflowers, great passes, mountain views on both sides,” White told us, summing up his suggestions. You’ll find the Skoki Valley in Banff National Park near Lake Louise. Again, talk to Parks Canada about the best way to enter this area.

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