With the most exciting parts of the Icefields Parkway behind me (Parkers Ridge, Athabasca Glacier, Sunwapta Falls), I devoted the final few hours of Day 9 to finishing the southbound drive back to Banff. I made a few stops along the way, to simply enjoy the beauty of the road.
Spots like this one were already showing more fall colors than they were just two days earlier, when I drove up the highway.
That’s a beautiful highway. You want to be there right now, don’t you?
South is Sud in French. You’ll pick up a lot of French words as you drive the Icefields Parkway, since all signs are bi-lingual.
I had stopped at Waterfowl Lakes on the way up the highway, but this time, I found a different spot to enjoy the view. There’s a parking area on the north end of the lake, which requires a short walk through the woods to get to the lakeshore. It’s a nice, secluded spot where you can be alone and enjoy the solitude.
By late afternoon, you’ll be in the shadow of Mount Chephren, one of the most distinctive peaks along the Icefields Parkway.
The Icefields Parkway ends at Trans Canada Highway 1, which comes in from British Columbia over Kicking Horse Pass, then continues the trip on to Banff. I decided to take the alternate route, Highway 1A (the Bow Valley Parkway) on to Banff, since it was a much more beautiful day than when I had driven the road on Day 4.
Most of Highway 1A is heavily wooded, and there are only occasional views of the surrounding mountains, which in my opinion, makes it less scenic than the faster, 4-lane Highway 1. But there are a few advantages of taking Highway 1A — for example, this view of Castle Mountain.
There’s also a roadside turnout that overlooks Bow River.
Another break in the trees reveals this mountain…
… as well as a chance to look back at Castle Mountain, from a different angle.
Here’s the time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive from Saskatchewan River Crossing to the Lake Louise/Highway 1 area…
… and from the Highway 1/Icefields Parkway junction south to Banff via 1A and 1: