During a trip to the Rocky mountain range with my partner I stayed in Mount Robson National Park for a few nights as a base for visiting the nearby sites including the Berg Lake Trail, Jasper and Maligne Lake.
Coming from Edmonton we headed West to the Jasper National Park in Alberta. Our aim was to head to Mt Robson with a stop of at Maligne Lake. As we got closer to the National Park our Gypsy App soon kicked in and started to describe the towering mountains, forested areas and even somehow prepared us for the sight of bird of prey which soon came into view on this drive. We were in complete awe by the sheer scale of the place, the smell of air and brightly colour waters in contrast with the surrounding trees and slightly snow peaked mountains. We soon decided to follow the gypsy app and as it advised us to stop off in a few places, we knew we had made the right decision.
Maligne Lake Boat Cruise
As we turned off from the main route to Mt Robson and Jasper we soon came to Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake is beautiful but there was also something a little eery about this area. The trees were all scorched from a Forrest fire a year or two before. The rain started as we were sat taking in the view, despite the grey clouds it couldn't ruin the view or our excitement.
We continued on to Maligne Lake listening to our in car tour guide from gypsy. At Maligne lake there is a cafe and booking booth for the boat tours. There is also a boat house for renting canoes. We had a sandwich and hot chocolate whilst waiting for our booked boat tour to spirit island. The cafe is very expensive and this is where we started to see the prices that others had warned us about. The weather had cleared up but the temperature had dropped due, i'm assuming from the exposure of the lake and the snow still on some of the peaks. Maligne lake is beautiful and the further down the lake you go by boat or canoe you slowly start to see the colour of the water change to a bright turquoise. As you get to the south side of the lake you reach the valley of the gods and arrive at Spirit Island. On the way out the skippers tell stories about the local exploration, environment and the significance of Spirit Island.
The Boat cruise is approx $80 - make sure you book ahead, we watched a few people who had turned up get turned away. Click here to book with a great deal (Update: Get Your Guide now provide a great flexible cancellation policy in light of recent events) or they also have a great tour tha combines the cruise with waterfall and wildlife tour. We did just the boat cruise but I think we will plan to do the waterfall and wildlife as well next time.
A Glance at Jasper
Following this we headed to Jasper for some dinner before heading to Mt Robson. We chose to have food in Montana BBQ and Bar. It was really relaxed, had lots of comfort food, had sports playing on screen and had a pool table. Jasper is a really pretty town and peaceful. When we were there we didn't take full advantage of this but compared to Banff, which we later visited and chose to avoid as much as possible due to crowds, we soon realised what a gem Jasper is. Although its made for tourists it hasn't become over run by them. The prices of accommodation and food in Jasper is more pricey than its south rocky partner towns of Banff and Canmore. We had food a few days later prior to heading down towards banff but can not remember the name of the cafe we ate in. The Athabasca river runs alongside the town and the start of the Icefields Parkway Drive.
I am already planning my trip for next summer here and plan to stay longer and possible do the white water rafting and helicopter ride should the budget allow (this is a little further south). There are wildlife tours which are great if you are a photographer, limited for time in the area or here in the peak season when its busy.
Mount Robson & Berg Lake Trail
In Mt Robson we stayed in a beautiful log cabin by the side of a creek that looked out to Mount Robsons peak (See bottom of this page for video clip from the garden to Mt Robson). Our accommodation was beautiful, the hosts were lovely and the food was unbelievable. I've included more about our accommodations in my rocky mountain road trip article. One highlight was upon arrival we saw our first ever bear which was a grizzly. So we ran to the decking which was looking over the creek but at a safe distance with the garden and creek between us and the Bear with the other guests silently in aw. This was the only Grizzly we saw on the trip, as the rest were black bears.
We didn't have specific plans for our stay here other than relaxing in the outdoors and doing a walk. When we spoke to owners of the ledge they advised us about the Berg Lake trail. Sometimes it is easy to get carried away and book up your holidays especially if you like to be active. I am really grateful I decided not to book up or plan most of this trip (other than a few bits). We drove round to the car park for the berg lake trail and immediately we were greeted with beautiful giant fir trees towering over the path and following a path along the river.
We followed the lake round to a large open shelter with picnic benches underneath. We stopped for about 10 minutes to have a snack before continuing on towards Whitehorn and Emperor falls for a steeper hike. We only made it a few more kilometres (to about 3969m of elevation above sea level) and were greeted by a very stressed young gentleman who was asking about a park warden, he told us a friend of his had broken her leg up near berg lake on the way down. We didn't feel right continuing on so we went to see if we could help. In the end we found her led on the floor next to the trail in pain with a splint on her leg (made by a passing doctor). We decided to help her and her friends get her down to the campgrounds at Kinney lake. My fella carried her and I took her backpack and wore mine on my front. Her friends were already carrying camping gear and bags on both front and back between them. We waited at the shelter but there was no sign of a warden for over an hour. We then decided to continue and get her closer to the park entrance and clear of danger, with the temperature dropping, the rain on and off (but gradually getting heavier as the day went on) and a couple of stops for black bears in the tracks. We eventually got to a park warden near the bridge and first campsite at Kinney Lake.
Following this the rain was getting worse, visibility started to change and we realised we wouldn't fit much more of a walk in if we tried to head back. We headed back to the lodge, showered then rested in front of the fire before relaxing for dinner with the guests and owners. We definitely want to come back to this trail as it was just gorgeous. Hopefully we will make it up to berg lake and the glacier next time.
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