One-way car rental from Calgary to Vancouver: The Canadian Rockies! (Part 2)
Continuing west on my one-way car rental road trip from Calgary to Vancouver, blue skies give way to silver (mountain driving conditions can change quickly!) and the landscape changes yet again. As you leave Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho national parks behind, it can take a moment for you to process what you've just seen. Perhaps you're starting to feel a little hungry or your fuel light just came on (if not, don't forget it's the last fuel stop for 70km). This is a great time to make a stop in Golden, BC.
Of course there are plenty of things to do in Golden other than fill up and grab a burger (although I am a staunch advocate of burger tourism). Compared to the dramatic scenery of Banff, to me Golden has a more ancient feel to it--like the Alps that time forgot. Somehow, everything just seems older. The valley stretches for miles and is packed with great lookouts, places to stop, and adventure tourism. Kicking Horse is a personal favourite of mine. It holds the title as the Canadian ski hill with the most elevation gain (more than 7,000 ft!), and the steepest, too. Whether it's winter or not, there are great outdoor activities year round.
Anyhow, tank full, burger eaten; let's roll! Next on the list: Glacier National Park. About as rugged as it gets, and rooted deeply in Canadian history, this park sees large numbers of visitors for a variety of reasons. It is the intersection between Highway 1 and the Canadian Pacific Railway, not to mention its diverse weather, flora and fauna. At the heart of it all is Rogers pass. The landscape is so rugged, and prone to extreme weather conditions and avalanches, that merely plotting a path for the railway project represented a huge milestone for Canada, finally connecting the East with the West via the Transcontinental Railroad in 1885. So much so that Albert Rogers was awarded a prize of $5000 for heading the expedition that led to its discovery.
After riding the new railway, Canada's then Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, realized the inspiring potential and returned home to Ottawa to spearhead the creation of Glacier and Yoho National Parks on October 10, 1886. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Unlike this blog post, there's no abrupt halt to the scenery of the Canadian Rockies. The mountains simply fade away as the odometer ticks over. There are many other beautiful things to see during a one-way car rental from Calgary to Vancouver, however, that's a different story.