Mountains, Mountains and more Mountains! (Day 17)
Jasper > Saskatchewan Crossing > Banff > Golden
Drive Quality: 10/10
Road Quality: 10/10
Route: Highway 93 > Highway 1
This was a short but beautiful day. Our plans revolved around meeting friends and family in Banff and then Golden, so we did a bit of backtracking along the No. 1 for good reason. Thankfully, this drive is a stunner, with no view unworthy of wide eyes or a slack jaw.
We started by passing again through Jasper National Park, taking note of herds of sheep and the towering, resplendent skyline. We vowed to come back one day and take full advantage of the incredible hikes and swims of the area. Though some National Parks allow for free ‘drive-through’ passes, Jasper is not one of them. Even if you do not stop or stay in Jasper, you are still required to pay the $20-something to drive through. We did this, stopping only briefly before continuing south through the crests and valleys of this rugged mountain range.
(Note: Though in other seasons there are many campgrounds along this route, they are almost entirely closed for any type of camping this year. Had we continued South the night before, we certainly would not have found a spot before sunset. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, stay North of Jasper or continue down to the No. 1 to find accommodations).
The only service station between Jasper and Lake Louise is at Saskatchewan River Crossing, which also offers lodging and a restaurant. Be warned, gas (and everything else) here is OBSCENELY expensive. We opted to use our jerry cans to get us through until the next stop rather than paying substantially more than at any other service station on our trip so far. We sipped a regretfully expensive $5 drip coffee instead and chatted with a few other bikers before continuing South.
Reaching the No. 1, we turned East to reach Banff, knowing we would have to backtrack later in the afternoon. The town was packed, and the main street is currently closed to driving traffic, which makes for pleasant strolling. We wandered (masks required) the busy main street before settling in with a few friends for Mexican lunch.
Our afternoon settling over us like fog, we decided we had to make the hour and a half push to Golden before we lost all motivation. Though this Highway is the main one that runs through Canada, this is still arguably one of the most beautiful sections, and we rode past Lake Louise, Yoho, and the sweet town of Field before arriving in Golden.
Like we’ve learned throughout our travels, it is often the people who make the place. Meeting our friends in Golden for a dinner of pizza of beer followed by a night around a bonfire made for unparalleled memories. We hardly slept this night, kept awake by stories, dog pats, and the offer of yet another round of cold beers. The following morning, we decided to take it easy -- sleeping in, wandering town, and jumping in a refreshingly cold lake before shaking off our lethargy and turning our bikes west for the final push home.
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