To reach these national parks we must drive through some equally impressive parks on the Trans-Canada Highway. Our first day will include several hours of travel from the Calgary airport, through the towns of Banff and Lake Louise, passing through Banff National Park and Yoho National Park, then across the Columbia River Valley before reaching Glacier National Park. We continue up the Beaver Valley before veering off to climb over Rogers Pass, then descend into the Illecillewaet Valley and finally skirt the southern edge of Mt. Revelstoke National Park to reach the village of Revelstoke where we will spend our first 2 nights. We will have many opportunities along the way for some short, but spectacular hikes in addition to visitor centers and interpretive trails.
It is up early on Day 2 to travel the Meadows in the Sky Parkway up the side of Mt. Revelstoke. Upon reaching Balsam Lake we will leave the tourists behind (most of whom will still be in bed) and travel into the Mt. Revelstoke Wilderness for a high altitude hike towards Lakes Eva and Jade. If conditions are optimal, we can crest to the summit of Mt. Williams where the landscape of glaciers, snowy peaks and blue-green alpine lakes will spread out before us.
We have another evening to enjoy the village vibe in Revelstoke, a picturesque lakeside town with a laid-back atmosphere and nightly music in the park. The next morning we start heading back east to explore Glacier National Park. Our hike on Day 3 is up Bostock Creek Trail, named in honour of Canadian senator Hewitt Bostock. The trail offers a moderate hike through the Interior Rainforest, and into the upper subalpine forest. We enjoy views of Mount Fidelity and Corbin Peak as we gain altitude to the pass, where much of the Columbia Mountains come into view. We continue our drive back over Rogers Pass to the secluded Heather Mountain Lodge for our next 3 nights lodging.
On Day 4 we start to explore the heights of the park with a hike to Hermit Meadows. The hike begins east of a large avalanche path and soon enters dense subalpine forest. The forest is a good place to watch and listen for birds, such as the White-winged Crossbill, Fox Sparrow, and Hermit Thrush. The first great mountain views are at about one mile where the trail comes out of the forest. The trail ends in the alpine Hermit Meadows, surrounding by wildflowers and at the base of glaciers and alpine lakes.
Day 5 is the penultimate hike in the Park – the Asulkan Valley. This trail has it all – breathtaking mountain scenery, waterfalls, meadows and a spectacular view of the Asulkan Glacier. We’ll hike to the toe of the glacier along a high ridge that offers an incredible 360-degree panorama, including the dramatic Hermit Range to the south. The name “Asulkan” was first used by William Spotswood Green, who climbed in the area in 1888. It reportedly means “wild goat” in the dialect of one of the First Nations of the region, and recognizes the abundance of mountain goats he saw at the end of this valley in Asulkan Pass.
After a final night at the lodge we have one more valley to explore – Beaver Valley. It is a collect passage for the many melting snow fields from above and numerous waterfalls cascade down to its level before they are carried down to the Columbia River and the long journey to the Pacific Ocean. As we make our way back across Yoho and Banff National Parks the call of the trails will be loud, but we must save those hikes for another visit, and continue on to Calgary for the conclusion of our tour.