Kananaskis Country in Alberta
A day trip in the Rocky Mountains on our way home from BC
We left Whistler on Saturday, October 3rd. By that time, many of the campgrounds had closed for the season. But even in the best of times, finding a camp site along the Whistler, Lillooet, Kamloops, Salmon Arms, Revelstoke, Golden, Banff, Calgary route is almost impossible. This is a very popular travel and vacation corridor through the Rocky Mountains. British Columbia is working hard to improve the highways to make it more pleasant for the travellers.
Our first stop after Whistler was in Salmon Arms. The plan was to stop at in parking lot. We upgraded the parking lot to one night in the Best Western Hotel
Willow Rock Campground
The next day, we stopped for two nights at the Willow Rock Campground in the Bow Valley Provincial Park, about 30 km east of Canmore. We were here on the way out to BC when we visited the Grassi Lakes. These sites are on a first-come system and they were open until mid October. We had no problem finding a site, but we were not the only ones.
We planned a round trip on Monday and booked for two nights. The weather did not disappoint.
Kananaskis Country is a popular tourist area. They offer campgrounds and RV facilities and summer as well as winter activities. We passed several hiking trail signs, but didn't have a chance to actually spend any time on the trails.
To get there, we took Hwy 40 only a few kilometer east from our camp site. After about 65 km on Hwy 40, the 742 returns via Spray Valley Provincial Park to Canmore. A 120 km round trip in the Rocky Mountains.
The birch trees and larches showed their bright yellow colours before they lose the leaves, or needles. The sun was out most of the day and the yellow looked more like gold, a very intense contrast to the green of the pines and the blue of the lakes.
We didn't really expect fall colours around here, we came to see the mountains. But then we also didn't expect a fox on the road.
Looking at the mountain ranges, the tectonic plates that are lifted up are clearly visible. New research by the University of Alberta suggests that the Canadian Rockies were formed when the North American continent was dragged westward and collided with a microcontinent over 100 million years ago. The Canadian Rockies are composed of layered sedimentary rock such as limestone and shale. The mountain ranges to the south are mostly metamorphic and igneous rock.
We had to cross the Highwood Pass at 2206 meters. We didn't notice the climb or height, trees were still growing along the road.
Hwy 40 is a well maintained road. All paved with plenty of pullouts and gravel shoulders to stop and enjoy the scenery.
The 742 is packed gravel and dusty. The last few kilometers drop down to Canmore. A winding road that passes the trailhead to the Grassi Lakes. "Been there, done that" on the way out to BC.
We put the Kananaskis on our list of places to visit again. The mountains are amazing and the hiking trails are plenty. We even saw four Grizzly bears when we stopped to take some pictures. They are usually very shy and avoid people. They disapeard into the forest without getting a chance to snap a picture. I guess, "if we don't have a picture, it didn't happen". A reason more to return to this place.