High up

Whistlers Campground Whistlers CampgroundAlthough the Whistler CG is huge, it didn't seem that way. The sites are laid out in circles forming units. The shower and toilet house was clean, bright and tidy. And the night was very quiet.

The time difference of an hour between British Columbia and Alberta was noticeable. We didn't get up until 9am. Breakfast was reduced to coffee once again despite the bright blue sky. We had a plan.

Upper Sunwapta Falls Lower Sunwapta FallsAlready for the first stop at the Sunwapta falls, the approach proved to be very correct. When we arrived, we could still choose the parking spaces. After the short way to the Lower Falls, there were already the "first battles" for free parking lots including traffic chaos. OK, the 3 vehicles that did not adhere to the one-way rule had the largest share of this. The drivers didn't even notice it and I helped a bit with the realization...

We drove past the Columbia Icefield and shortly afterwards turned onto Wilcox Creek Campground. Between Jasper and Lake Louise, you cannot pre-book campgrounds. There are some, but all first-come-first-serve. But the way between Jasper and Lake Louise was over 200km, and if you don't want to drive several kilometers twice, the overnight stay at one of the campgrounds on the Icefield Parkway makes a lot of sense.
Our plan worked! We got one of the last free sites! Bingo! Now we finally had a relaxed breakfast.

Wilcox Creek CampgroundWilcox Creek Campground is the highest campground on the Icefield Parkway. However, this was not the reason for the choice. Also, the beautiful trail to Wilcox Pass and Wilcox Ridge started here.

We put on the hiking boots. Our first real hike was imminent. When there was no Icefield Parkway, Wilcox Pass was used. We did without bear bells and prefer to take a small speaker with us and listen to soft music.

„In 1907, Arthur Coleman, famous Canadian geologist and academic, lost his horse, Tobsy, while traveling this pass during an August blizzard. Topsy was found (and personally delivered to him) by famous trailblazer Mary Schäffer, who was returning from a failed attempt at finding Jasper’s fabled Maligne Lake.”
(sign post at trailhead)

The connecting road from Lake Louise to Jasper was opened 1940 (construction work from 1931-1939) as a gravel road called "Wonder Trail". It was not until 1961 that the road was paved and renamed “Icefield Parkway”.

The Wilcox Trail led very nicely first through forest then over mountain meadows. However, it was further than described - both in our German travel guide and in the hiking guide of Jasper. Even if we ended up with almost 11 km on the clock at 520 HM compared to the described 8km (the extra way from the CG was only 1.4km), it was totally worth it. We had a gigantic view over the glacier with its three glacier tongues. And the dimensions could be classified much better from up here than from the "foot of the glacier" itself.

Wilcox RidgeEven if the degradation of the ice masses can be seen dramatically. At the opening of the Wonder Trail, the glacier almost reached the road. Which again makes me very thoughtful and worried. We must do something!

Red ChairsOn the way back, the "Red Chairs" are free for a few pictures. Across Canada, more than 200 such chairs were distributed by the National Park Administration, in places that were more or less easily accessible. They have been set up at particularly beautiful or unique vantage points and invite you to linger. This has been developed into something like the "Red Chair Experience". Parks Canada red chairs.
We don't intend to find all the chairs, but if they are already on the way...

We didn't make our way to the glacier anymore. We had a fantastic view that day and it could not be topped. We let the day end comfortably on our “highest campground”, with reading, eating and a Marwin-made campfire. However, the cool temperatures that such an altitude brings with it soon drove us inside, where we played some games and then went to bed.

  • Accommodation: Wilcox Creek Campground
  • Time on the road: 2 h
  • Kilometer drivem: 104 km
  • Kilometer hiked: 10,83 + 3,03 km
  • Waterfalls: #15 Sunwapta Lower Falls, #Sunwapta Upper Falls
  • Specialties: Sehr schöne Wanderung mit toller Aussicht bei tollstem Wetter