Day 8 Saturday – Valemount to Jasper – 122km
We were hoping that the COVID restrictions would lift before we hit the Rockies but they hadn’t. So far we have been using private campgrounds because the Provincial parks are all closed but there are no private campgrounds around Jasper, Banff or Lake Louise because the whole area is a National Park.
We assessed our options. We could drive to Jasper and stop overnight on the roadside along the Ice fields highway to Lake Louise but I was worried that we would be asked to move on as the road is opened to through traffic only. It is unlikely that the police would come knocking on the window of our RV in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night but we don’t take those chances due to the risk of a nuclear meltdown and subsequent fallout from the small baba being moved in the middle of the night.
We decided to divert and not drive through the Rockies which I was disappointed about but we would check out Jasper before turning back – then Brainwave – Hotels are open. A hotel tonight in Jasper and a hotel tomorrow night in Lake Louise and we stay on our planned route.
The approach to Jasper is beautiful, the scenery slowly got more and more spectacular as we got deeper into the mountains then out of nowhere we were blown away by the view of Mount Robson – the highest mountain in British Columbia at 3,954m.
Excuse the quality of the pic, it’s taken through the windscreen
Jasper is an amazing town. It sits quite happy nestled among the snow-capped peaks as they look down on the town through clear fresh air. It is touristy but not manufactured like some ski towns I have visited. I took the below pictures in the iPhone filter noir because I like how the snow and clouds stand out.
On arriving in Jasper there is an RV parking lot located here which is a great place to take a break and decide on your plan of action or take lunch. The parking lot was empty but I think outside of COVID times that would be different.
We could have parked the RV up in any of the quiet residential neighbourhoods and spent the night but we stuck with the hotel plan. We decided on the Lobstick Lodge. It was great but hot at night time. The heat wasn’t on, just warm rooms, luckily they provide a fan. There is a breakfast place close by but we didn’t bother with that because Theresa makes an EXCELLENT breakfast.
That evening we went out for dinner – it’s so good to see restrictions lifting and see restaurants opening. We went to Earls. We sat inside but the views of the mountains from the patio are amazing.
Remember that driving east into the mountains you transition to Mountain time (1 hour ahead)
Day 9 Sunday- Jasper to Lake Louise – 232km
The unfortunate thing about the national park being closed is that we had to do this drive in one day. There are so many campgrounds along the way and I would imagine that the hiking and backcountry camping is amazing. For a road trip, it is out of this world. Literally driving through snow-capped mountains with absolutely breathtaking views at every turn, passing turquoise glacier-fed lakes, raging rivers, sharp, powerful snow-capped peaks and huge glaciers. I have never seen anything like it in all my travels. It is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever made and the highlight of the trip so far.
I am so glad that we stuck to our planned route.
We got another up-close look at a black bear lumbering along the highway minding his business. We slowed down to get a pic, making sure there was nothing behind but did NOT stop or get out. These animals will literally tear you to pieces (slowly) if they take a notion.
Lake Louise is tiny. There is not much of a town to it but lots of trails and a ski resort. The lake itself is beautiful and sits under the watchful eye of the Fairmont Hotel. I would love to stay there sometime but it was still closed due to the COVID.
We stayed at the Lake Louise Inn, reasonably priced and close to lots of trails. It’s a ten-minute drive to the lake and a six-minute drive to the ski hills.
Day 10 Monday – Lake Louise to Radium Hot Springs – 131km
You might wonder why the town is called Radium Hot Springs. I think there are some thermal springs in the area. Oh yes, there are and they look quite nice too but they were closed. I assume the hot springs is the big tourist draw in this town but we didn’t miss out by not visiting them. The town is so nice and there are lots of trails in the area.
The campground we stayed at was an easy walk along a nice trail to the town (ten minutes) and sat at the bottom of a valley. The Canyon RV Park is tidy, well-manicured and has a nice creek flowing through it.
We walked into the town and then headed out the highway towards the hot springs for a walk. It doesn’t sound enticing walking along the highway but there is a path all the way and stunning views of a waterfall and the canyon towering over the road.
Further past this canyon we saw five mountain goats making their way along the cliff. These are bighorn sheep, the ones you see with the huge curving horns but the ones we saw were females with shorter horns. We met a shotgun sporting park ranger on the walk back who told us that there was a dead sheep on one of the trails which would attract predators so the trail was closed.
Day 11 Tuesday – We spent two nights at Radium Hot Springs, generally taking it easy.
Day 12 Wednesday – Radium Hot Springs to Fort Steele – 128km
We took a detour through Kimberly on the way to Fort Steele. It’s a great little town with nice restaurants and shops. It was so quiet. I am guessing that’s not the case in high season as there is a ski hill nearby.
The main reason I wanted to stop off at Fort Steele RV Park was to check out the heritage town but unfortunately, it was closed due to the COVID. It looks absolutely amazing and there is an old-style heritage hotel you can stay at. We took a walk in any way but couldn’t see too much as it is fenced off.
The campground is nice but there’s not a whole lot to do unless the heritage town is open so we moved on the next day.
Day 13 Thursday – Fort Steele to Fernie – 95km
Fernie is simply amazing. I love this town. I could live here.
We stayed at Fernie RV Resort which is about half an hour walk from the centre of town. There are nice stroller-friendly trails into town along the river or you can walk through the quiet residential areas.
There are also decent hiking trails close by where there are regular moose sightings.
The campsite has full hook up which means you can use the City water main rather than refilling your water tank every day. It’s really spacious and so well looked after. There’s not much shade though and it got really hot.
We walked into town in the evening and ate at The Loaf. I got a great burger with very average fries but I think that may be down to the fact that it was only their second day open after the COVID. Theresa really enjoyed her food so overall I would recommend it.
Day 14 Friday – Fernie
We learned a lesson with our RV this morning waking up to the cold. We were out of propane, the heat works off the propane and there is no gage in the living area of the vehicle. This isn’t a big issue if there is a propane refill close by as a lot of gas stations do refill but the nearest one to us was forty minutes away – we also didn’t have gas to heat water for tea so we had our breakfast and headed out for propane.
If you were in real difficulty I think there is a way you can hook a propane tank up to your RV. We ran out after almost two weeks of steady use, using the heat every day, the fridge and the gas stove. Yes, the fridge also uses propane so good thing our food didn’t spoil.
I’d recommend checking it every week based on our usage. There is a gage on the tank where you refill it. Apparently, it is an offence to fill a propane tank more than 80%.
That wraps up Part 2. I will post the final section from the Rocky Mountains along the Crowsnest highway to Vancouver in two weeks time.
Thanks for Reading,
PS – If you interested in my new book – The Pagan’s Revenge – It is a historical fiction novel set in 10th century Ireland and it’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Austin MacAuley and Bookdepository (Hardback, Paperback and E-Book)