Athabasca River Valley at Sunset

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I know there’s a lot of competition for this honor, but I think the prettiest place around Jasper, Alberta is the area east of town, along the Yellowhead Highway and the Athabasca River.  I was so impressed by it, that I returned to this area at the end of Day 9, for a beautiful sunset.

Highway 16 (the Yellowhead Highway) is considered an east-west route, but leaving Jasper, it heads north for a while before turning towards Edmonton.  Along the way, you’ll see some of Jasper National Park’s most impressive peaks.  Directly ahead, on this straight stretch of the highway, are Esplanade and Gargoyle Mountains.

A bit further up the road, and you’ll be driving along the wetlands and lakes that fill the Athabasca River Valley.  Keep an eye out for good reflections in the water (I’m not certain, but this might be a different angle of Gargoyle Mountain).

Don’t forget to look on the opposite side of the road, as well.  I found this pond — with perfectly still, glassy water — on the southeast side of the highway.  Would you believe, it’s connected to the river by a drainage pipe?

There’s no official place to stop here, but the road was wide enough to allow me to pull off.  I think the peak in the distance is Capitol Mountain, or perhaps Mount O’Hagan.

Looking towards the west, the sun had just slipped below a trio of distant peaks (probably Gargoyle and Esplanade are among these mountains).

An un-frozen part of Jasper Lake provided a nice reflection of Roche De Smet.

My favorite picture of the evening was one of the last that I took — and one of the last that I could take, since it was rapidly getting dark.  I parked at the side of Highway 16 and climbed down to the edge of Jasper Lake.  One mountain range after another stretched out before me (including the prominent peaks of Roche Ronde on the left, and Roche Miette on the right).  There was just enough snow on the ground to add some patches of white, and the river water was perfectly still, providing a smooth reflection.

Eventually I gave up on taking pictures, and walked back to the car I had abandoned at the side of the road.  After so many days of cloudy, grey skies, I was thankful for the beautiful moment I had just witnessed.  And I hoped I would be just as lucky the next morning, for the drive south on the Icefields Parkway.  But, I wasn’t.

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