Hector Lake & Bow Lake, on the Icefields Parkway


As the drive continues up the Icefields Parkway, it will be a while before you come across another mirror-lake like Herbert Lake.  But that’s okay, because the roadside lakes get even more interesting:

The first unusually blue-green lake you’ll see is Hector Lake.  I’m fairly certain this is a photo of Hector Lake, with the Waputik Icefield slowly pouring down the mountains behind it.  Those nearby glaciers are what gives Hector Lake its seemingly unnatural color.  The glaciers grind away at the mountains, creating “rock flour” — extremely fine particles of rock, that stay suspended in the water, giving the lake a milky greenish color.  Unfortunately, the view of Hector Lake is partially obscured from the highway, but the next lake is front and center:

The overlook for Bow Lake is right beside the road, so you don’t have to do any hiking to enjoy this view.  Bow Lake is a little more blue than green (but that’s subject to change throughout the summer, as the ice melts).   The red roofed building on the shoreline is Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, where rooms can run between $250 and $300 (CAD) or more a night, which you might consider a small price to pay for the privilege of waking up with this view out your window.

There’s another good reason to stay at Num-Ti-Jah: as soon as you wake up, you can get an early start on the trail to Bow Glacier Falls.  The trail is about 8 kilometers, or 5 miles, round-trip, but it’s an easy climb.  At the end, you’ll have a great view of a beautiful waterfall, surrounded by mountains.  There’s a great account of the hike on this page.

Looking across Bow Lake, you get a fine view of Mount Thompson, elevation 3,084 meters (10,118 feet).

Believe it or not, the next lake along the northbound drive is even more spectacular.

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