Glacier National Park
Road:TransCanada Highway 1 (Golden-Rogers Pass-Revelstoke) passes through Glacier National Park and skirts the edge of Mount Revelstoke National Park.Glacier National Park, very scenic and a great favorite with climbers, and Mount Revelstoke National Park, a few miles further west, lie in one of Canada's most inhospitable mountainous regions, the almost inaccessible northern Selkirk Range of the Columbia Mountains. These run parallel to the Rockies, with lots of jagged peaks, steep descents and narrow valleys cut deep into the rock, to the west of the Rocky Mountain rift valley. The wet west winds from the Pacific result in high levels of precipitation on the western flank of the Columbia Mountains which are over 3,000 m (9846 ft) high. It rains almost every day, even in summer, and snows almost every day in winter - the weather station on Mount Fidelity has in fact measured 23 m (75 ft) of snow in a year. These considerable snows feed more than 400 glaciers in and around Glacier National Park. Over 12.5 per cent of the park is permanently covered in ice and snow and the roads are very prone to avalanches. At lower levels, up to about 1300 m (4267 ft), there are real "Columbia type" rain forests with some enormous old trees - western red cedars, hemlock firs - with groundcover of ferns and the densest of undergrowth.The eastern flank, on the other hand, starved of rain, has a dry, continental climate.Both Glacier National Park and Revelostoke National Park are home to mountain goat, caribou, and golden eagle, and the scrub in the wake of avalanches is the haunt of black and grizzly bear.Even the Indians fought shy of the Selkirk mountains, on account of their terrain, climate, avalanches, lack of game and almost impenetrable vegetation, and they were only really explored when the need to build the railway became apparent. It was not until 1881, when Major A. B. Rogers discovered the 1327 m (4355 ft) high pass that bears his name, that the barrier of the Selkirk Mountains could finally be overcome.When the Canadian Pacific Railway went through the pass in 1885, the first Canadian trans-continental railway line was complete, and tourists came to see the remote mountain landscape. The railroad company built four hotels along the line.One of these was Glacier House, on the Illecillewaet Glacier, a Grand Hotel that by 1900 was attracting guests and climbers from all over the world - two Swiss mountain guides had been taken on in 1899 for visitors to the "Canadian Alps".When, despite avalanche barriers and galleries, 62 railway workers lost their lives in an avalanche in 1910, it was decided to cut the 8 km (5 mi.)-long Connaught Tunnel through Mount MacDonald, thus cutting off the world-famous Glacier House from the railway. Since few guests were prepared to undertake the long journey in horse-drawn carriages, the hotel was closed in 1925 and demolished soon afterwards. Today this elegant establishment is commemorated by a memorial tablet at the Illecillewaet campsite.In 1962 part of the new TransCanada Highway was built on the old railway route over the Rogers Pass - too late for Glacier House.The Canadian government made 76 sq. km (29 sq. mi.) of this spectacular alpine landscape a national park as early as 1886 and Glacier National Park was opened in 1930. The beauties of Mount Revelstoke's scenery inspired the creation of Mount Revelstoke National Park in 1912, and in 1927 the Prince of Wales opened the Summit Road, leading to the top of Mount Revelstoke, with its breathtaking views.A 50 km (31 mi.) section of the TransCanada Highway runs through Glacier National Park, providing easy access to trails such as the Loop Brook Interpretive Trail (round trail 6 km (31/2 mi.) west of Rogers Pass, 1 hour's walking) with several good views and interpretive panels about the old railway route over the pass. The Illecillewaet campsite also serves as a starting point for the Avalanche Crest Trail (steep climb, 3 hours; magnificent view from the ridge), the Great Glacier Trail (2-3 hours, climb to the head of the Illecillewaet Glacier) or the Glacier Crest Trail (several hours' climb, 800-1000 m (2600-3300 ft) difference in height; good view of the Illecillewaet and Asuikan Glaciers).As the Glacier National Park is "bear country", many walkers fix small bells to their rucksacks to warn the bears of their approach.
Mount Revelstoke National Park
From Revelstoke (435 m / 1428 ft), the scenic Summit Road, 26 km (16 mi.) long and passable only in summer, winds its way to the summit of Mount Revelstoke (1936 m (6354 ft)) in Mount Revelstoke National Park. The alpine-like plateau on the western edge of the Selkirk Mountains is especially worth visiting for its wild flowers in summer.From the summit there is a breathtaking view across the broad Columbia River valley and the mountain peaks of the Monashee Range in the west, some of them still unnamed.Various trails branch off from the road, leading to the three mountain lakes, Eva Lake, Miller Lake and Upper Jade Lake - several hours of very strenuous hiking. Apart from Mount Revelstoke itself, the rest of the National Park, with the Clachnacudainn Icefield, is not easy to reach. The TransCanada Highway, which follows the Illecillewaet River valley, only skirts its southern edge.The Giant Cedars Interpretive Trail in the Revelstoke National Park, is a boardwalk through what is still a well-preserved section of typical "Columbia Forest," cool-temperate rain forest, with giant red cedars (highly recommended).This is an short and easy walk that will get you up into the forest with minimal effort.
The visitors' center (Rogers Pass Discovery Centre) at Rogers Pass (1327 m / 4355 ft) is in a building like the old avalanche galleries (also accommodation, restaurant and filling station). The center has models showing the history of the railway as well as maps and information about the national park.Anyone wishing to hike or climb in the mountains, explore caves, or walk on glaciers, must register with the Ranger Station opposite.The Abandoned Rails Interpretive Trail is about an hour's walk along a small section of the old railway line to several old avalanche galleries. Interpretive panels with historic photographs provide information.