Golden to Icefields Parkway Via Yoho National Park


Two days earlier, my arrival in Golden was gloomy.  What a difference some blue skies can make!  As I drove out of Golden, headed east on Trans Canada Highway 1, I stopped at a viewpoint just outside of town.  Here, you can see the town’s business district, with the Purcell Mountains behind it.

The drive out of Golden isn’t especially fun, thanks to a massive construction effort that’s underway on Trans Canada 1.  British Columbia is working on “twinning” the highway, all the way to the Alberta line (“twinning” means turning a 2-lane road into a 4-lane highway).  During my visit in 2009, concrete barriers and flaggers were everywhere.  It will no doubt take many more years to complete the project, since building a highway through the Rocky Mountains isn’t an easy task.  You’ll be able to see a lot of the construction delays (and a very bright morning sun) in the Drivelapse video below.

You’ll find a lot more about Yoho National Park on Day 5 of this trip.  I visited the famous Spiral TunnelsTakkakaw Falls, Field, and Emerald Lake on my drive west.  Day 7 would have been a much more beautiful day to see all of those places, and I was tempted to drop in for a second visit, but I needed to drive all the way to Jasper, Alberta (309 kilometers or 192 miles).  So instead, I stopped at the Yoho National Park visitor center in Field, to admire the shallow lake nearby…

… and the brilliant, golden fall foliage, which seemed to have exploded with color since I last passed through here, less than 48 hours earlier.

Maybe it had something to do with the blue skies and bright sunshine.  Or everything to do with it.

After the railroad town of Field, Trans Canada 1 starts the climb to the Continental Divide.  Parts of this road follows the old railroad route over the mountains, which was so steep, train accidents were frequent.  Fortunately, a car can handle a steep grade much easier than a locomotive, so the road is easy to travel.

Old Bridge on the Big Hill

There is an impressive old remnant of an old section of the highway (and  the old rail line as well).  The Old Bridge on the Big Hill is on the south side of the road, and you can only stop here if you’re headed east.  A fence keeps foolish tourists from walking across the old bridge, which frustrated me, because I always enjoy being a foolish tourist.

The Old Bridge dates back to at least 1890, when it appeared in an historic photo of the old CPR rail line.  You can see the photo on this webpage.

Once you cross the Alberta/BC provincial border (at Kicking Horse Pass, the Continental Divide), Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway north to Jasper, is only about five minutes away.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive from Golden, BC through Yoho National Park, into Alberta, and ending at the junction with Highway 93:

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