Despite having to have surgery, Thor and I got to have a nice little vacation this year to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We booked a room at the Miette Hot Springs resort in the motel back in June and hoped for the best when we got there. There were 3 main routes that google maps pointed out and we decided that we'd take the David Thompson Highway to Saskatchewan Crossing and then north on the Icefields Parkway up passed Jasper and finally to Miette. The drive would take 6 hours or so, but longer if you factor in stops along the way.
Abraham Lake is always worth stopping at, and if you go to about the middle of it, there's a turn off called "Windy Point"... I think that's what it's called. It's literally always windy, extremely windy. It did nothing for my cute hairdo, and it takes a person's breath away, but I love stopping there anyway. The color of the lake is delicious and it's just something neat to experience. There are no outhouses there, so you'll have to hold your bladder until you get to David Thompson Resort. Incidentally, you can buy gas there as well.
Driving up the Icefields Parkway is spectacular. Look around at the miles deep glaciers everywhere (while they last!) and take many stops along the way to breathe in the crisp clean cool air. It's otherworldly. We totally lucked out and a lady gave us her day pass into the park because she was leaving as we approached the park gates and didn't need it anymore. Otherwise, it's $20 per carload per day to be in the park legally. This truck and trailer were sitting on the side of the road as we climbed a small pass. Thor and I were both puzzled by it, wondering how long it had been there and why it was there instead of in the pull out we parked in.
We talked about the Glacier Skywalk (I did that last summer) and decided to just stop at the Columbia Icefield ourselves without taking in the expensive tours. There's a spot you can park on the west side of the tourist stop, down a short gravel road. It's free to park, and free to walk up and get a good close look at the Athabasca Glacier. Free. That's awesome. There's one outhouse there. It's a somewhat small parking lot, but we didn't have trouble getting a spot. The hike up to the glacier is steep and bumpy, not wheelchair accessible, but take your time, it's worth doing. Definitely wear something warm. It's high in elevation here and it's cold up top. We got there just as a big lot of clouds rolled in, so we had to deal with rain drizzle, wind and cold, but it's cold up there always. It's a glacier! When you're up there, you are separated from the glacier by a stream that you can't cross, but you still get a sense of the enormity of the glacier, and there are history markers along the way to educate yourself with. These are truly massive mountains. You can do this totally free, or you can pay big bucks to take the big red glacier walk vehicle and go walk right on the glacier itself. For me, what we did was just right. No need to spend the money.
As we got closer to Jasper, the clouds went away and nice blue skies began to open up. We bypassed Jasper itself because we planned to go back there and check it out on day 2 of our vacation. To get to Miette Hot Springs and the Resort, you have to drive north of Jasper about 10 minutes, and turn right onto Miette Road. From there, you wind up the fully paved road another 15 - 20 minutes and then there you are! Here's a pic from the Miette Road segment.
Once there, you see the Miette Hot Springs Resort but not the actual hot springs, it's just a tiny bit farther up the road. A tiny bit. The Resort is a family owned and operated resort with 3 staying options. a motel, a chalet and individual cabins. Call and book early in the season, it fills up quickly. We stayed in the motel for $115 per night plus tax and tip, which is completely reasonable! It can be a bit loud, so bring ear plugs for sleeping at night. The cabins are likely quieter. The hot springs are just a 2 minute walk up a paved path way from the motel. It couldn't be better, honestly.
More about the trip another day!
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