Driving to Alaska Day 6: The Icefields Parkway

Welcome to post 6 of 18 in our Driving to Alaska series. We hope you enjoy the stories from this unforgettable 4,000 mile road trip.

Golden, BC to McBride, BC

We both enjoyed a hard night’s sleep despite the below freezing temps, the camper shell holding in more warmth than we would have guessed.  We layered back up and stepped outside to see that the Purcell mountains to the west were shrouded in a thick layer of grey clouds.  The hope had been to hang out in Golden for the day, enjoying some recreation and the company of Cade & Becca’s friend Dre that lives here in town.  However, the cold, wet weather had us rethinking our plans.  We decided to eat and run errands and decide later based on the weather.

From camp we followed a walking path alongside the Columbia river that took us into downtown Golden.  At a little cafe called Ethos we warmed up and dried off while enjoying decadent breakfast sandwiches, maybe the best I’ve ever had.  After walking to the grocery store and back to the campground it was decided that we would pack up and continue north.  The sky was just beginning to open up and we were feeling optimistic that the conditions might be just right for our next leg which would arguably be the most stunning of the entire 4,000 mile trip.

At 5pm we turned onto highway 93 and entered Banff National Park.  I knew very little about Canada but what I did know was that this stretch of highway we’d just turned on to, also known as the Icefields Parkway, was supposedly one of the most beautiful places in the world.  For two straight hours the Canadian Rockies rose up on all sides of the narrow two lane highway and stretched before us for as far as the eye could see.  They just keep going is what I kept saying to Mark over and over.  A winter’s worth of snow, plus a fresh coating from the last few days, dialed up the majesty even more.  After driving the length of Banff National Park we crossed over into Jasper National Park and the mountains kept on going.  It was hard to drive straight through without stopping but we had a mission and that mission included nearly 50 more hours of driving in the next 8 days.  Mark & I agreed that we could easily spend an entire summer exploring British Columbia in our truck camper.  Maybe one day we would make it happen.

After refilling our gas tanks in Jasper it was time to figure out where we’d be sleeping for the night.  While the sun was still rather high in the sky, it was 8pm and we’d not eaten since breakfast.  Cade suggested a dispersed campsite an hour and a half away and so that became our destination.  We were all ready to be there, to be done driving for the day, to eat, and to sleep, but when we passed Mount Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies, we had to stop.  We’d witnessed an endless list of impressive sights today and this one ranked at the top.  It may have only been a five minute stop at a roadside pull-off, but standing in the middle of the highway and admiring this breathtaking peak helped burn this day into my memory.  I’d now seen the Canadian Rockies with my own eyes and they were even more awe-inducing than I’d imagined.

Well after nine o’clock, as the sun was finally starting to near the ridgeline, we arrived at a lovely little riverside campsite that we would call home for the night.  We opted for the fastest/easiest meal that we had on hand so that we could call it a night sooner than later.  A quarter mile walk to the rest area at the entrance to the highway allowed us to dispose of our trash in hopes of keeping the bears away.  By 10:30 it was finally starting to look like nightfall.  We tucked into our cozy cave and promptly passed out.

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We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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