Icefields Parkway – July Long Weekend, 2021

We were supposed to go to Wing Ding in Springfield, Missouri this summer, but again, the borders were still closed due to the covid pandemic.  So we headed north and east to finish the ride we started last year at this time but had to quit because of very poor weather.  The forecast was sunny and hot for the entire week!

The province was opening up for travel between health districts and provinces, so we suspected a lot of people would be travelling on the long weekend.  We booked our motel rooms about a week in advance and even then had a hard time finding places that weren’t fully booked.

We headed out Wednesday evening (June 30) after work with plans for a short ride up to Kamloops.  The traffic was horrible!  Bumper to bumper, stop and go, from Langley all the way past Abbotsford.  What normally would be about 45 minutes took almost an hour and a half!

Just as we were coming into Kamloops, we saw a beautiful cloud formation just to the north west of us.  It was formed by the rising heat and moisture from the wildfire burning in the area.

The next morning we awoke to smoke filled skies, hoping that the highway north out of town would be clearer.

We fuelled up and headed north on Highway 5 towards Valemount and on to Jasper.  We stopped along the way for a picture opportunity at Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.  There was still a bit of smoke, but much clearer than around Kamloops.

We rode into Jasper and stopped at a boutique coffee shop for lunch before fueling up and heading to our destination – Sunwapta Lodge – about 50 km south on the Icefields Parkway.

The lodge is located close to Sunwapta Falls.  It is a rustic collection of cabins tucked into the forest beside the highway.  There is no A/C (it was +30 when we arrived), it is expensive ($200+), but has an excellent dining room.  The food was 5 star all the way.

The next morning, July 1st (Canada Day) we had a great breakfast and headed on our way towards the Columbia Icefields.  We planned to take the tour up on the Athabaska Glacier and check out the glass bridge.  It is well worth the cost as the glacier is receding way faster than anyone thought and there won’t be many years left where the tour is available.  The highway down to the Ice Fields is spectacular!

We booked the Glacier Tour earlier in the year and were happy we did.  There were a lot of people waiting in lines for the tour.  The busses that head up onto the glacier are quite unique.  The tour was just over a couple of hours and very informative.  We were glad we kept our riding gear on as it was quite cool up on the glacier.

After the Glacier Tour, we were whisked onto another bus and taken to the Columbia Icefields Skywalk.  If you are scared of heights, this may not be for you.  This is a glass bottomed bridge erected on the side of a cliff overlooking a river gorge several hundred feet below.  It is quite spectacular.

After the tour, we headed down the Parkway towards Golden.  We stopped at Saskatchewan Crossing ($1.81/litre!!!) to top up with fuel ‘just in case’.  We were glad we did!!  The clouds were rolling in but the scenery was fantastic…

It clouded over completely and was threatening to rain, so we pulled over just in time to put on our Frogg Toggs raingear.  It started pouring as we got back on the highway.  We reached the junction of the Trans Canada and headed towards Field, BC.  It was now pouring rain and visibility was very poor.  We entered the Kicking Horse Canyon as the rain stopped and came up on a huge backlog of vehicles.  After about half an hour, we found out there was a mudslide that completely blocked the highway.  We managed to turn back and headed to Field for fuel, planning to take a different route to Golden via Lake Louise and Radium.  There was no power in Field, as it was taken out by the mudslide, so no fuel was available.  Thankfully, we still had enough fuel to make it to Lake Louise!!!  We fueled up and endured bumper to bumper traffic all the way to Radium and then up to Golden.  An extra 250 km added to our day.

We checked in to Mary’s Motel in Golden and then found the Island Restaurant, where we had an excellent meal.  The stuffed Elk was superb!  Giselle had a shrimp dish that was also very good.

After a good night’s sleep, we headed out of Golden towards Lillooet, our next stop.  The Trans Canada Highway from Golden through to Revelstoke is beautiful.  There wasn’t much traffic because the highway was still closed east of Golden due to the mudslide.  We had an easy ride all the way into Salmon Arm.  Just past Salmon Arm and before you get to Sorrento is a motorcycle museum – Dreamcycle Motorcycle Museum.  We stopped in and spent the $20 for the tour.  It is well worth the stop if you are a motorcyclist. They have a small coffee shop and the owner is usually there to tell a story or two about his collection.

The final leg of our journey was just about over.  We arrived in Lillooet and sauntered over to the Lillooet Cookhouse Restaurant, one of our favourite stops when doing shorter runs from Vancouver up and over the Duffey Lake Hwy 99.  The owner, Wayne, a fellow biker, is always around to chat.  The food is good with friendly waitresses.

We woke up the next morning to find the bike was covered in ash from nearby forest fires.  It was time to head home over the Duffey.  A truly great week of riding and adventure, a great finish to the ride we started a year ago but couldn’t finish because of unrelenting rain.

Here is a link to the Relive Video of the ride: