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Thread: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

  1. #11
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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Day 9 (8/18) Again, this was “supposed” to be a “rest day” again… First thing this morning, we got up and rode east to the Queen Elizabeth Highway (2) and north to Red Deer, AB. We couldn’t stand to have been in the area again without stopping at Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson for a couple of t-shirts. From Red Deer we rode west on Hwy 11 almost all the way to the Icefields Parkway in Banff NP. We stopped at the west end of Abraham Lake (an amazingly beautiful 20-mile-long turquoise reservoir) just before having to pay to get back in the park, and turned back around. Most times you wouldn’t think re-tracing your steps could be appealing, but this ride is well worth it. Back along the length of Abraham Lake to Rocky Mountain House, AB, and back south on 22 again to Sundre—where we left the camper set up. We ended up riding a lot more miles today than we anticipated. (Day 9 = 370 miles)
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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Day 10 (8/19) Time to head south again – destination USA. Highway 22 (The Cowboy Trail) is a great ride all the way from Entwistle, AB – on Hwy 16 between Jasper NP and Edmonton-- all the way down through the farm country and foothills of Alberta to Lundbreck; then either over the Crowsnest Pass to British Columbia and/or Idaho; or east on Highway 3 through Pincher Creek and south on Highway 6 to Waterton Lakes NP, Glacier NP, and Montana. There are Provincial Parks and amazing scenery all the way. (We could not ride in the Kananaskis Country, through 3 provincial parks in the southern foothills on the Alberta side of the Canadian Rockies, because of the road being completely washed out.) The Rockies are within easy viewing distance to the west and the vast rolling hills, prairie and farmland spreads out in every other direction. It is also very obvious that oil plays a huge part in Alberta’s economy. The closer you get to the border, the drier and windier it gets – at least that has been our experience every time we’ve made this trip. We made a quick stop at Waterton Lakes NP (park # 7) on the Canada side just before crossing the border and going on to the East Glacier, MT, KOA. (Waterton is really beautiful – and aptly named for all the little lakes and waterways. This would be a great weekend or week-long vacation destination by itself.) If it wasn’t for the wind, the East Glacier KOA would be a really nice campground/ but the wind makes tent camping a challenge. The view of the mountains and glaciers at the entrance to Glacier NP are great. The store has a good selection of groceries and other necessities – as there really is no other store within miles. The breakfast, lunch and dinner (pizza, etc.) offerings are really good, too. Plus, the bathrooms are clean and close to the tent area. We camped close to the office so we had electricity. They do have some tent sites in the trees next to Lower St. Mary Lake. (Day 10 = 282 miles)
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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Day 11 (8/20) Today, last but not least, the 8th national park on our list for this trip: Glacier NP, Montana. Just like Banff, Jasper and the Columbia Icefields, words don’t do Glacier any form of justice. Only pictures and actually being there yourself are adequate for such a magnificent piece of nature. The road through the park was under construction, so we didn’t make many stops for photos – mainly just got the drive-by kind and some GoPro video. (We did stop at the Visitor Center at Logan Pass – you can’t pass that one up!) The Going-to-the Sun Road is awesome, even when you’re behind a pilot car or stopped for trucks and equipment. We stopped again in the village at West Glacier to get some souvenirs for the grandkids (and huckleberry ice cream). From there, we rode Hwy 35 south down the east shore of Flathead Lake (through all the cherry orchards) and on to the KOA at Missoula for the night. (We’ve reviewed the Missoula KOA before.) Missoula is fine, but hot and there was a huge forest fire just to the southwest that was making everything very smoky. (Day 11 = 219 miles)
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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Day 12 (8/21) We rode in the smoke all the way across Montana. There were at least 4 large forest fires along the way that we could see the smoke columns from I-90. After the now mandatory stop at the Wheat Montana Bakery in Three Forks for a giant cinnamon roll, we rode on to Billings. The KOA at Billings is not one of our favorites --- it’s overpriced, less than friendly, and not all that clean. The campground does have a lot of amenities and activities, and it is right in town which makes for easy access to good restaurants, etc. (Day 12 = 380 miles)
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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Day 13 (8/22) Homeward – I-90 to Sheridan, WY, then Hwy 14-16 to Gillette. (Day 13 = 242 miles) We still had 3 vacation days left to recuperate, so we rode to Rapid City, SD, on Saturday (8/24) to get the bike serviced at Black Hills Harley and camped that night in Custer, SD, at the south end of the Black Hills. (Day 15 = 400 miles round trip) (Vacation Total = 3961 miles)
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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Hope you all enjoy! Not all the pictures are perfect as most were taken at road speeds. If anyone would like to know more about a particular area we have maps of each day, 18.9 GB of pictures and GoPro videos and a lot of memories of this great two week ride. The weather was nearly perfect, the scenery was spectacular, and the riding and camping every day were refreshing. All in all it was a wonderful trip and we can’t wait to go again.

    Mark and Jamie

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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    WOW great photos and story loved it made my day better

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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Thank you for sharing your vacation trip with all of us. Loved the pictures!

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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Enjoyed your journey through your words and pictures, thanks for sharing.

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    Re: National Parks of the Northern Rockies Vacation – August 2013

    Mark, that was a great report. The pictures were really great, I could not tell you were moving when taken. When I went on my trip west I stopped short of the Canadian part. I have to go back and finish the trip from Glacier north. Thank you Mark, and your photographer Jamie Great job.
    God bless.
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