We flew into Calgary at the end of August to embark on a twelve-day road trip across six national parks: Glacier in Montana; Waterton, Banff and Jasper in Alberta; and Yoho and Kootney in British Columbia. Yoho And Kootenay are nestled right beside Banff and Jasper in eastern British Columbia and together these four national parks, along with three nearby provincial parks, form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
As the largest of the New England states, Maine offers a wide variety of hiking opportunities and options through diverse terrain. We initially planned a four-day backpacking excursion along the Grafton Notch Loop. While the distance itself was not particularly daunting (60km over four days), one thing we (foolishly) did not factor in was the substantial change in elevation. Being located in the White Mountains (key word being mountains) should have tipped us off. Needless to say, we had to re-examine our (not-so) well-thought-out plans.
Even though Newfoundland is a part of Canada, with its charming and friendly culture and a more relaxed pace of life, you can't help but feel like you are in an entirely different country. They even have their own time zone (an hour and a half ahead of Eastern Standard Time). Sure, the weather is predictably unpredictable and there are wind warnings on the regular, but the scenery out on The Rock is hauntingly breathtaking.
Located along the rugged coast in Maine, Acadia National Park offers of variety of trails that weave their way up, down, and around mountains, through lush forests, and along a granite shoreline, all the while providing panoramic glimpses of the lively Atlantic Ocean. We visited Acadia once before last fall after the Labour Day long weekend and had such a wonderful time (with minimal crowds and pleasant weather) so we planned another visit to coincide with the other shoulder season – the spring.
Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana along the US-Canada border just south of Waterton Lakes National Park. Together these two parks formed the first ever International Peace Park to better preserve and protect the shared ecosystem along the Continental Divide. Spanning across a million acres, Glacier National Park is home to 25 active glaciers (although scientists estimate they will all disappear by 2030), 71 species of mammals (including the grizzly bear!), and 151 trails (totaling 1,200km). The Going-to-the-Sun Road, the park's only road that cuts through the park, offers exhilarating views as you're winding around, through, and over the mountainous terrain.
The Bruce Peninsula is a ruggedly scenic peninsula in Ontario that is bordered between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The Bruce Peninsula National Park is nestled along the northern part of this peninsula. And a large section of the Bruce Trail (an 885km trail that runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara to Tobermory) that cuts through this national park offers phenomenal views of jagged cliffs, rugged rock formations, and overlooks the crystal clear turquoise waters of Georgian Bay.
The first national park was established here in Yellowstone. Situated along much of northwestern Wyoming and parts of neighbouring Montana and Idaho, even over a hundred years ago there was a collective need to protect and preserve the abundant wildlife and many geothermal features surrounding the area. Today Yellowstone boasts of being one of the largest ecosystems in the Lower 48 to support a wide variety of animals - including many endangered species like the grizzly bear, gray wolf and American bison. Resting atop an active supervolcano, it is also home to half of the world's geothermal features.
The Shenandoah Valley stretches across 200 miles between the Blue Ridge Mountains in the east and the Appalachians in the west. The Shenandoah National Park encompasses around half of that stretch from Front Royal in the north to Rockfish Gap in the south. The Skyline Drive, the main road that winds through the park, offers sweeping views of rolling hills from the neighbouring mountain ranges in either direction.
Today made a good driving day as the weather resumed to its usual cloudy / rainy-ness. After awhile you'd think we'd get used to the rain, dampness, and lack of sun. Well, we didn't. We drove along the remainder of the Northern part of Iceland towards Snæfellsjökull National Park.
The Land (or Song?) of Ice and Fire. Iceland has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years. With its stunningly beautiful landscape and magnificent geothermal attractions, it is any nature enthusiast's paradise. And due to its close proximity to the Arctic Circle the days are endless in the summer and the night sky is often illuminated with the aurora borealis in the winter.