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How to Backpack Jasper Park like a Ranger…

Jasper National Park. Sure, it may play second fiddle to Banff in terms of acclaim, but it remains larger and more wild than Banff, Yoho and Kootenay combined. It’s a place of rugged, untouched wilderness, with over 600 miles (1,000 km) of back-country trails which ranks among the largest – and best – trail systems in the world.

This is not for luxury lovers. Don’t expect ski resorts, champagne wishes and caviar dreams. In fact, don’t even expect a wide selection of day hikes. This is the wild, pure and simple. And for everyone’s sake we hope it stays that way.

But back to the day hikes…

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Cowboy Up at the Calgary Stampede, Canada

Get ready for all things cowboy! The Calgary Stampede brings over 1.25 million people to Calgary for ten days each July. Billing it as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” might be exaggeration… but not much. With a $1.6 million prize on the line, the Stampede draws some of North America’s greatest cowboys. Even during its first show back in 1912, the Stampede drew 40,000 daily visitors (compared to Calgary’s then population of 65,000).

Since then the Calgary Stampeded has grown into one of the largest and richest rodeos in the world. Calgary itself is known as “The Stampede City”, is affectionately called “Cowtown” and even its local football team is called the Stampeders.

Yep, rodeo’s big ’round here.

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Watch the Northern Lights; Northern Canada

The aurora borealis – also known as the “Northern Lights” –  is an uncommonly beautiful tapestry of color spread across Northern Canada. Reds, greens, blues and whites all stream across the night skies; sometimes like faint wisps, other times an explosion of color all seemingly from a central point.

What causes such a display?

Its origin has been argued for centuries. Originally thought to be produced by the sun’s reflection on ice (sort of like an extreme rainbow), popular consensus shifted to the collision of gas particles between the sun and earth’s atmosphere.

The different colors represent various gases: low atmospheric oxygen- roughly 60 miles (97km) from earth’s surface –  produces yellow, while high altitude oxygen produces red and nitrogen produces blue.

Other interesting – though entirely implausible – theories include vapors from ore deposits, reflections from campfires and the spirits of local hunters and/or animals. Continue

Explore the Canadian Rockies; Banff, Canada

With over 930 miles (1,500km) of trails, arguably the most scenic drive in the world, and incredible wildlife viewing, it’s no wonder why four and a half million people visit Banff National Park each year.

Situated in the Rocky Mountains, the second oldest mountain range in the world, Banff is Canada’s first national park and third in the world.  It’s time for you and the family to get out and explore Banff National Park’s glaciers, lakes, rivers and forests.

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8 Must-See Attractions Driving the Icefields Parkway

No one…

no one can overhype the Icefields Parkway.

It’s that incredible.

The 142 mile (230 km) stretch from Lake Louise to Jasper National Park is a neck stressing collection of glaciers, mountains, lakes, forests and alpine meadows.

During the early 1800’s settlers referred this area as the “Wonder Trail” and rightly so. Roughly halfway through the Icefields Parkway the road crosses from Banff into Jasper National Park; despite this border, most people treat this as an end in itself.

The following lists the best of what the Icefields Parkway has to offer.

All distance markers are relative to Lake Louise, and you’ll see brownish-green highway signs for everything listed here. Keep in mind it is possible to drive the entire Parkway in just under four hours, though to do so would be a crime.

In other words, take your time to explore the many trails, lakes and sights…

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