Bow Summit and Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada..
The drive south on Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) from Mistaya Canyon is on the fine, blue sky, Canada Day holiday in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
There are visually stunning vistas of mountains, wilderness forest and pristine lakes along the entire length of this amazing highway. A plethora of turnouts along the Icefield Parkway provide opportunities to enjoy the phenomenal natural scenery.
The Icefields Parkway skirts Waterfowl Lake about 15. 5 KM (9.6 miles) south of Mistaya Canyon. The views from the two turnouts are breathtaking. The west turn entrance into the Waterfowl Lake Campground is a short distance past the viewpoint turnouts. Driving into the campground, a quick left turn leads to a parking area for two spectacular hikes on the other of Mistaya River.
The first 4.2 KM (2⅝ mile) one-way hike is south to Cirque Lake nestled beneath Midway Peak and Mount Synge. The second hike from the same trail-head is a one-way, 3.5 KM (2¼ mile) distance northwest to Chephren Lake beneath Mount Chephren.
Each of these lakes and their associated mountains are backed by a chain of lofty mountains between White Pyramid and the Capricorn Glacier. It must be seen to be believed. No words can do the vision justice.
These two trails have a common access creating a T formation where both of these incredible lakes, near 1,750 m (5,740 ft), can be combined on a single hike. Opportunity of a lifetime.
The temptation is overwhelming but the primary objective for this day is Helen Lake. It is difficult and frustrating to leave but the two sub-alpine lakes will be hikes for another day. So much to do and so little time.
The solace and peace of being alone at Mistaya Canyon is completely opposite to the crowd assembled 15.3 KM (9½ miles) south of Waterfowl Lakes at Bow Summit and Peyto Lake Viewpoints.
The parking lot, a short drive west of, and above, the Icefields Parkway is packed with vehicles. The 0.6 KM (⅜ mile), uphill, paved pathway to the Peyto Lake viewing platform is crowded. Photos are carefully timed to show a more characteristic possibility on a less busy day.
People are lined up to access the Peyto Lake viewing platforms. A diversion off trail accesses the cliffs directly beneath the platforms for a couple of quick, representative photographs of this popular and beautiful location.
Following the decision to leave the Bow Summit Viewpoint for another day, the hike proceeds to a junction part way down the paved pathway which will return to the parking area on less traveled trail through forest.
There are still patches of snow in sheltered areas. Views above tall evergreens feature the mountains on the east side of the Icefields Parkway.
The drive south continues for another 7.6 KM (4¾ miles) from Bow Summit and Peyto Lake, past the entrance to Simpson's Num-Ti Jah Lodge access to Bow Glacier Falls and the Helen Lake trail-head across the Icefields Parkway from the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint.
Photographs for this post were captured on Canada Day, July 1, 2014.