Sneak Peak: Across Canada by Train and Automobile

Updated February 13, 2016 with links to completed articles.

Here’s a little secret: Taking photos of cool places is a lot more fun than sitting in front of a computer for umpteen hours to edit them.  Back in October 2014, I traveled from Toronto, Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia on Via Rail Canada’s Canadian, with a stop in the Canadian Rockies.  The scenery was almost too overwhelming – around every bend on the railroad or highway, there was another view more spectacular than the last.  As a result, I ended up taking, oh 2,752 photographs (2,475 color, 277 infrared, in case you were wondering).

The trip is fodder for a good half dozen 15 future posts…once I finally get caught up on editing.  Here’s a collection of some of the photos I’ve gotten edited so far:

Introduction to Via Rail’s Canadian

An Afternoon in Toronto

Via Rail Canada Train #1, The Canadian, about to depart Toronto Union Station
Via Rail Canada Train #1, the Canadian, about to depart Toronto Union Station.  Lowell Silverman photography, 2014

The journey on the Canadian takes a little over three days to cross the continent.  The train departs Toronto westbound late in the evening.

Across Ontario by Train

The Canadian passing through the Canadian Shield
The Canadian passing through the Canadian Shield

Most of the next day is spent passing through the Canadian Shield.

Tamarack in the Canadian Shield of Ontario seen from the train
Tamarack in the Canadian Shield of Ontario seen from the train

The biggest treat in the shield was tamarack, a deciduous conifer (!) which turns bright yellow in the fall.

Three Hours at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Sunrise outside Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sunrise outside Winnipeg, Manitoba

The second full day on the train, we arrived in Winnipeg, where riders can get off to stretch their legs downtown while the train is serviced and the crew changes.

Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge, Winnipeg
Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge, Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s downtown is very walkable, with a nice park at the confluence of two rivers known as the Forks.

Across the Prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Across Alberta by Train: Edmonton to Jasper

Hiking the Old Fort Point Loop in Jasper National Park

 

Big Horn Sheep resting in the middle of a trail in Jasper National Park, Alberta
Big horn sheep resting in the middle of a trail in Jasper National Park, Alberta

The third full day, the train arrived in Jasper.  The town is in the middle of a national park by the same name.  I got my first look at big horn sheep on a trail just outside of town.

Driving the Icefields Parkway, Part I: Jasper National Park

Driving the Icefields Parkway, Part II: Banff National Park

 

Mountains seen from the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Mountains seen from the Icefields Parkway, Alberta

The Icefields Parkway is a scenic 140 mile (230km) long road linking Jasper with Lake Louise, near Banff.  In my mind, it rivals the Going-to-the-Sun Road for the subjective title of Most Scenic Road in North America.

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park probably has the bluest water I've ever seen
Peyto Lake in Banff National Park probably has the bluest water I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of Oregon’s Crater Lake

Bow Summit, not far off the Icefields Parkway, provided a spectacular view of Peyto Lake.  Its spectacular blue water is due to “glacial flour”, suspended rock particles pulverized by glaciers on nearby mountains feeding the lake.

Mountains near the south end of the Icefields Parkway
Mountains near the south end of the Icefields Parkway

Scenic Roads in the Canadian Rockies

At the south end of the Icefields Parkway, you can pick up the Bow Valley Parkway, which has pretty good scenery too.

Castle Mountain, known for a few decades after World War II as Mt. Eisenhower
Castle Mountain, known for a few decades after World War II as Mt. Eisenhower

One of the best sights along the Bow Valley Parkway is Castle Mountain.

Bow Falls and Banff Springs Hotel

Mountains near Banff, Alberta in infrared
Mountains near Banff, Alberta in infrared

The resort town of Banff, best known for its skiing, is surrounded by beautiful mountains year round.

Hiking (and Glissading) on the Saddleback Trail at Lake Louise

Lake Louise and Hiking to Fairview Lookout

View from a snowy trail near Lake Louise
View from a snowy trail near Lake Louise

Lake Louise in Banff National Park offers ample hiking opportunities, but in October many trails were already closed by snowfall.  I hiked the last one open.  I was too stubborn to give up when the trail was covered with snow and ice.  I ended up descending by sliding most of the way on my butt.  Thanks to a post on the blog Tandem Trekking about climbing Mt. Adams, I now know that in mountaineering circles this is known by the far more dignified term “glissade”!

Canadian Rockies near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Canadian Rockies near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

It was a really amazing experience watching the sun rise at Lake Louise.  It wasn’t so much the colors as seeing the morning light slowly catch more and more of the surrounding mountains.

Across British Columbia by Train: Jasper (Alberta) to Vancouver

Pyramid Creek Falls in British Columbia is most easily viewed from the Canadian
Pyramid Creek Falls in British Columbia is most easily viewed from the Canadian

We boarded the next westbound Canadian after returning to Jasper.  Highlights of the rest of the journey, traveling mostly through British Columbia, included a spectacular rainbow and an up-close look at Pyramid Creek Falls from the comfort of the dining car.

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