East of Jasper: Athabasca River Valley


I decided to devote most of my time on Day 9 to the area east of Jasper.  My goal was the town of Hinton, about an hour away on the Yellowhead Highway, Route 16.  But I found plenty more to see along the way.

East of Jasper, Highway 16 runs alongside the Athabasca River, at the bottom of the wide and flat Athabasca River Valley.  Early in the day on Day 9, the scenery wasn’t spectacular, thanks to some thick grey clouds that were hanging low over the surrounding mountains.

There were some interesting sights off to the side of the highway, on the opposite side of the road from the river.  Keep an eye out for some small ponds, which provide a glassy reflection of the snow-covered trees along the shore.

I made several stops in this area, even though there weren’t many official parking areas.  Highway 16 is two-lane, and it carries a lot of fast-moving truck traffic (and it seems almost no one obeys the wildlife speed zones).  But, through this area, the road’s shoulders were wide, and not too snowy, making it easy to pull off safely.

There are a few official stopping spots, including this one at Talbot Lake. As of late March, most of the lake was still frozen, with only a few patches that had melted.  A short trail will take you out to the end of this peninsula, where I’m sure (in better weather) you could capture some nice pictures of the lake and mountains.

Roche à Perdrix looms over Highway 16 at the eastern edge of Jasper National Park.  The mountain towers 2,135 meters (7,005 feet) into the sky.  The French name translates to “Partridge Rock”, since the foliations in the rock are supposed to resemble the tail feathers of a partridge.

After leaving the park, I continued on to Hinton.  I’ll cover that part of the trip in a moment.  But for now, let’s fast-forward to the trip back.

On my return trip through the area, there were still plenty of clouds, but the weather was much better, and I was able to capture some more nice reflections in the ponds near the road.

I also found an excellent spot to view the river, and the twin peaks of Roche A Bosche (on the left) and Roche Ronde. Watch for a large turnout area on the westbound side of the highway, where you can safely park, then walk down to the river’s rocky sandbars.

In this area, the Athabasca River is wide enough to form Jasper Lake.  Looking straight across the lake, to the northwest, you’ll see several peaks, including Roche de Smet, elevation 2,539 meters (8,330 feet).  It was named after Pierre-Jean de Smet, a Jesuit missionary who is said to have traveled 180,000 miles during his mission work.

By this point, it was mid-afternoon.  I drove on back to Jasper, then south to Athabasca Falls.  But as the day came to an end, I decided to return here for sunset.  I’ll show you what I found, later on in this trip.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Jasper to Hinton, Alberta:

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