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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Banff to Anchorage 25.6.-22.7.22

Canmore is a pretty tourist town located just before the entrance to Banff N.P..

July 1st is Canada Day, which we celebrate with a red and white parade, lots of folklore, music and fireworks in Canmore.

In the evening we enjoy a gourmet meal at the restaurant 'Sauvage' which is highly recommended.

During our week stay we make some excursions out of Canmore:

We go on a beautiful round trip into the southern mountain landscape. On a gravel road we drive to Spray Lake where we meet the shaggy Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep on the way. From Spray Lake we continue to Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lake. Upper Lake is particularly beautiful nestled in the Rocky Mountains. We return on the paved road via Kananaskis Village.

Early in the morning we go to Lake Louise to the Park and Ride where we have reserved the bus at 07:30 to visit the two 'must have' lakes. We first drive to the less known but more beautiful Moraine Lake ...

... and then to Lake Louise, which is already quite crowded at 9 o'clock in the morning.

On the way back we stop in the small town of Banff with a tourist pedestrian zone and many restaurants. Near Banff we do a 12 km hike with about 400 meters of elevation gain to the Johnsten Canyon Lower and Upper Falls and further up on a high valley to the Ink Pots.

Today it is time to say goodbye to Camore and we will drive on the 230 km long Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper, passing crystal clear mountain lakes, impressive glaciers and many waterfalls.

It is worth to take some time for the route, because you can visit countless beautiful places. The first stop is at the viewpoint to Peyto Lake.

Continue to the Icefield Center where you can walk to the tongue of the Athabasca Glacier.

Shortly after that, right at the road, the Tangle Falls tumble down and we visit the even more spectacular Sunwapta Falls and have a look at the Athabasca Falls with the green shining river bed.

In Jasper we make a trip to Maligne Lake and the nearby Pyramid Lake with the small island which in the morning beautifully reflects the illuminated mountains.

In the evening we go on a guided three-hour game drive and learn a lot about the wildlife, including interesting details about bears and also that the bear bells attract the bears rather than drive them away.... Especially towards the end of the tour we get to see many animals.

Now we start a 2'700 km drive to Dawson City where we will have a 1 day break. Every day we will cover between 400 and 500 kilometers.

On the way to the first stop, Prince George, we drive past the 4000 high Mount Roberts, the highest mountain of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, under unfortunately overcast skies. On the way we see a young moose grazing. At Rearguard Falls and Purden Lake we take our breaks before we arrive tired at the hotel.

Continue to Fort St.John with beautiful flower meadows along the road. Past Bear Lake and McLeod Lake to Bijoux Falls, where there are some tables for a picnic. Unfortunately, there are many mosquitoes everywhere and they can not be driven away even by the bug spray.

In Chetwynd we take a short break where there is an international chainsaw competition every year. We admire some of the partly very filigree artistic sculptures which are exhibited everywhere in the town under the open sky.

We continue to the dam of the 1'760 km2 Williston Reservoir where we can photograph a doe on the way.

The route to Fort Nelson offers no special attractions, but the Alaska Highway winds beautifully through forested valleys and hills.

The route from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake is indescribably beautiful: the landscape changes again and again, we pass the emerald green Mucho Lake and mountains

and spot many animals, including the classic elk in the water and a young Rocky Mountain goat with his mommy. For the first time we also meet bison buffalo.

On the way we relax in an almost natural lake of Liard Hotsprings.

From Watson Lake, with its forest of signs, to Whitehorse there are no highlights worth mentioning, but again the route is nice and lonely.

The next destination is Dawson City. In this direction, a forest fire is raging at the moment about 3 hours away by car. Officially a road section is closed, but apparently some cars got through anyway. We decide to give it a try and drive back to Whitehorse in the worst case. Arriving at the spot, a sign says 'road closed', but no one is there and there are no barriers. We continue to a post, which lets us through with the stipulation that we are not allowed to stop. It goes partly through thick smoke, with firefighters on the right and left and of course burning and burned trees.

Dawson City is a pretty gold mining town, which is not very touristy pimped and just therefore likeable. Most of the houses are made of corrugated iron and decorated with a colorful Wild West front.

We visit a gold mine that is still in operation and we wash gold out of a pile of dirt. The few splinters now accompany us as golden lucky charms.

We continue towards Anchorage on a route of 1'500 km. From Dawson City via the free ferry to the 'Top of the World' Highway' across the American border to the small town of Tok. The route often follows the ridge through forests and a little further up, more open through the tundra. Despite the gravel road, the route is very passable except on the American side where part of the tarred road is riddled with many potholes. If you are lucky you can see caribou herds (the wild reindeer), but unfortunately we did not.

Shortly before Tok we stop in Chicken to take some snapshots - of chickens, of course.

Today we have a supposedly short trip from Tok to Black Rapids Lodge. In Delta Junction, about 60 km before our lodge, we learn in the Visitor Center that the road is closed on the way, because some bridges were damaged by the water masses. We pass the time until we get more info and take 2 snapshots of the cool Alaska T-shirts.

Then we learn that the lodge is accessible from the south via a detour of over 500 km. We set off and arrive happily at 19:30 in the highly recommended small lodge 'Black Rapids' with about 8 rooms. After dinner we light a fire outside and heat up the hotpot and the sauna in which we enjoy the warmth.

The next morning we make a short hike with the guide of the lodge to an impressive glacier cave.

Then we continue along the Denali Highway, which is extremely varied and beautiful, to our lodge near Denali National Park.

The next morning early at 7am we booked a bus into the park. Unfortunately, at the moment you can only drive in up to mile 43 and so miss the overwhelming landscape near the 6200m high mountain Denali, also known as Mount McKinley. At least we can observe some moose.

The last stretch to Anchorage is via Talkeetna, a pretty tourist town where you can take helicopter flights to Denali. Unfortunately it rains the whole day....

In Anchorage we take a six day break and interrupt it only for a very special highlight: Brooks Falls. We fly to King Salmon in the morning and continue by floatplane to Brooks. Before we can walk to the platform about 2 km away, where bears lurk everywhere, we get a bear behavior instruction. The scenery, with which different strategies the bears go on salmon catch, is overwhelming. Shooting bears in Brooks Falls is an absolute paradise for any photographer.

Now we are heading back towards Canada, where we will arrive in Calgary towards the end of August.

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