The weather forecast for our time on the Alcan showed nothing but rain. For days, it was supposed to rain. We were going to miss some of the stunning scenic views that make the Alcan legendary, all because of rain.
After Banff, our next stop on the road trip was neighboring Jasper National Park, another Canadian beauty. Jasper is the largest of the Rocky Mountain National Parks, covering more than 4200 square miles. We only spent two nights in Jasper, but we made the most of it.
There are no words to adequately describe Banff National Park, and as a writer, it’s really, really frustrating when my vocabulary comes up so short.
I guess if I had to choose an appropriate adjective, it would be ridiculous; what with its UNESCO World Heritage Designation and pristine ecosystem and dense evergreen forests and towering mountains, and oh yeah, its immense glaciers, Banff is just plain ridiculous.
After leaving Glacier, we crossed the border into Canada and headed for Waterton Lakes National Park, in Alberta. The two parks are actually a single entity, called Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, established in 1932 by members of the Rotary International organizations in Alberta and Montana. Both parks have been designated as Biosphere Reserves, and the Peace Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Note: each park has its own administration and entrance fees and you have to go through customs when crossing the border).
Glacier National Park, in northeastern Montana, isn’t just a jewel, it’s an entire crown.
It’s part of the “Crown of the Continent,” 28,000 square miles of wild, rugged Rocky Mountain terrain encompassing the corners of Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana. Its sister park, Waterton Lakes National Park, sits just across the border in Canada. In addition to these two national parks, the Crown of the Continent has several national forests and Indian Reservations and numerous Montana state and Canadian provincial parks.
We started the second leg of our road trip on August 20.
Destination: Denali National Park in Alaska, where we plan to camp for ten days. Along the way, we’ll make stops in Montana’s Glacier National Park as well as three Canadian national parks, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Jasper. Then we’ll hop on the Alaska-Canada Highway (also known as the Alcan), which is about 1400 miles and runs from Dawson Creek, Canada, to Delta Junction, Alaska. We have about two weeks to cover this ground and reach Denali to claim our campsite.
The Davis Mountains hold a special place in our hearts. Roughly equidistant between Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, the Davis Mountains are situated in the huge, sparsely-populated area of deep west Texas. We came out here many times in our 20’s and early 30’s. The first time we visited, several years before we we were even married, it was with Dale’s parents, and we returned numerous times after that, mostly to camp.
Our return this year was our first visit in probably fifteen years, and I have no idea why we ever stopped coming.