Other Spots Along the Bow Valley Parkway

June 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

After dinner on the first day we were in Alberta, we decided to take a drive down the Bow Valley Parkway to familiarize ourselves with the parkway since it has a number of nice spots for photography. The west end of the Parkway was not far from the hotel, and even though it was 8:00, there was still a couple of hours of daylight. It was on this drive that we saw our first bears. About 10 minutes into the drive, there were a couple of cars approaching us on the shoulder of the road. We wondered what they were doing and thought maybe there was some wildlife along the side of the road. As we pulled up alongside of the, we spotted a black bear. Not wanted to endanger the bear or ourselves, we kept moving along. A little while later, a similar situation occurred with cars on the other side of the road. This time it was a grizzly bear. It was then that Denise was determined to get some bear spray. The rest of the drive was uneventful and we made it back to the hotel without incident. 


A week or so later, we took another drive along the Parkway, stopping along the way at several pullouts. The first we came to was Moose Meadows. It is an example of a shrub meadow. Moose were seen here regularly in the 1960s and '70s. Now you are more likely to see elk or deer. We saw no wildlife, just low-hanging clouds between us and the mountains.


Moose MeadowsMoose MeadowsBow Valley Parkway


Further down the road was Hillsdale Meadows, a rich habitat for wildlife, especially elk. The aspen trees that were light green with new leaves are bright yellow in the fall. The dark areas around the bottom of the trees are scars from elk. 


Hillsdale MeadowsHillsdale MeadowsBow Valley Parkway


In 1993 Parks Canada performed its first prescribed burn in the Sawback area of Banff National Park. The intentionally set fires help the meadows and aspen stands come back after they started disappearing. Elk started coming back also, and so did the wolves who prey on the elk.


Sawback BurnSawback BurnBow Valley Parkway


Castle Mountain was named in 1858 for its castle-like appearance. From 1946 to 1979 it was known as Mount Eisenhower in honor of the US World War II general (and later president) Dwight Eisenhower. The original name was restored after public pressure. The photo below is from the second time we visited this spot. I was hoping for better light than we had the first time we were there, and I was fortunate. After about a half hour, the clouds parted enough to light up the mountain top. That's the Bow River in the foreground.


Castle MountainCastle MountainBow Valley Parkway



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