While I still haven’t made it to Canada’s West Coast to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean, I’ve finally made it to our western-most province: British Columbia. Valemount, BC is a small town on the edge of Jasper National Park at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It is a hub for hikers, tourists, mountain bikers, and snowmobilers. It makes a great home-base for folks who wish to take in much of what the Rockies have to offer.
We set up camp at Canoe River Campground, just a few minutes outside of town. Compared to our recent trip to Drumheller, the campsites were much more private, far more affordable, and had breathtaking views. The washrooms were clean and the service was friendly. Since leaving Newfoundland, this is by far the nicest campground I have stayed at. Highly recommend!
However, the mosquitos were horrible. The absolute worst I have ever experienced! Mack and I could hardly enjoy our evenings at the site as the flies were relentless, even with bug spray. We had to huddle in the tent the entire time and I still got more bites than I ever have in my life. Although I understand that this is just an inconvenience all campers have to deal with, I am open to any and all suggestions to keep those pests away next time!
About 15 minutes outside Valemount on Highway 16 lies Mount Robson Provincial Park. Mount Robson, captured in the images above, is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet. I was stoked to explore the trails around the base of the mountain– but Covid-19 had other plans.
At the time, the park was limiting guest access to Kinney Lake and Berg Lake Trails on a first-come, first-serve basis. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our passes on time and could not get access to the trails. Another time.
We accepted defeat and paused to soak in the glorious view. We got our pictures, bought some postcards, and got a move on. The kind park attendant we spoke to recommended a few short trails that led to waterfalls. Both trails are immediately off Highway 16 near Mount Robson.
Overlander Falls, featured in the two pictures above, is a small but powerful waterfall. It is only a 10-minute walk from the highway.
Rearguard Falls, which I didn’t get a good picture of, is an even shorter walk from the highway. It is also worth venturing down if you have the time. There is a riverbank just up from the falls that makes a great photo op and is also the prime stop to take a quick dip in the mighty Fraser River. I wasn’t brave enough, but Mack was! Don’t stay in too long, it’s extremely cold as it is almost purely fed by glacier runoff and snow melt.
Because we missed out on the Kinney Lake Trail, we needed to find somewhere to scratch our hiking itch. We were lucky to find the Swift Creek Trail, located directly within the town of Valemount. Although the trail isn’t well marketed (or gets lost amidst the more hyped trails in the area) it is well maintained and well worth your time.
Swift Creek Trail is a 10-kilometre loop that ascends to a maximum elevation of about 500 feet. It is challenging at points. It took us about 4 hours and we felt so great afterwards. The scenery was serene and the view was remarkable. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to well-deserved beers at Three Ranges Brewing Company.
On the trip back, Mack woke me up from my nap. There were some elk grazing on the side of the highway in Jasper National Park and he knew I’d want to take pictures. A huge thanks to Mack for being so considerate because I’m pretty proud of these shots.
I am so grateful that the BC border is only a five-hour drive from my doorstep. Since moving to the mainland of Canada, the country feels so accessible! I’ll always love Newfoundland, it is my home; but there is such a freedom in being off the island.