Highwood Pass Loop through the Alberta Rocky Mountains
Yesterday we decided to go on a short road trip. The weather was in the thirties again, so too hot to wander around too much, so being in an air conditioned truck for a few hours appealed. Having researched a few trips locally I had found one called the Highwood Pass Loop which takes us south of Calgary then west into the mountains, north through the mountains and then back along the Trans Canada Highway back to Calgary. In total, the trip is just over 300 km.
Due to the wildfires in BC and Alberta, we knew the visibility would be compromised quite a bit, but hoped it would still be worth the trip. The idea was to see exactly what there was to see and then be able to come back another day when the conditions improved if it was worth it.
To be honest, the journey from Calgary to Longview was a little disappointing as the visibility was poor and we could not see the mountains at all. We had planned to stop off in Longview for a coffee and snack. We had read about a place called Navajo Mug which was recommended, but when we drove through the town there was no such place. I then spotted a building that I knew was the place as I had seen photos of it on the internet, but it was now called Jave Minute and it was closed! Oh well, never mind, we had water with us, so we carried on.
We were now driving west towards the mountains and although we could see them, many were shrouded in haze. We did, however, see lots of hawks lined along the side of the road on poles and fences. I managed to get a couple of quick shots of this bird before he flew away. He is Red Tailed Hawk.
As we drove along we saw some magnificent scenery that even the haze could not hide.
As we were driving we spotted some animals to the side of the road and pulled over. They turned out to be Bighorn Sheep, also known as Rocky Mountain Sheep. This was a flock of 5 females who were just grazing along the side of the road. They couldn't have cared less about us parked a few feet from them clicking away on our cameras.
After the animal encounter, we carried on driving through the most spectacular scenery. This was stunning even in these conditions, so it must be even more stunning when the haze and smoke is gone.
Suddenly, we went round a bend and there was another Bighorn sheep, this time a big male. He had impressive horns and didn't seem to mind us at first. We took some photos, but after a few minutes, he started to stamp his feet. We know this is a sign of agitation in deer and assumed the same for sheep, so we left him to his grazing. Although what he was grazing on I have no idea as it seemed like rock
A while later we spotted a turn off area called Wedge Pond which looked nice so we parked up and took a wander down to a beautiful pond. Unfortunately, the haze was quite bad here so we did not get the full impact of the mountains or the reflections. But, it was still quite stunning.
I spotted some butterflies along the trail and managed to get a few pictures.
The last place we spotted before leaving the main mountain area was Barrier Lake, although with all the heat this summer and the lack of rain, it was little more than a pond. It really brings home how dry this province has become this summer. Many of the creeks along the route were either dried up completely or nothing more than trickles.
Shortly after this we exited the park area and got onto the Trans Canada Highway which took us back to Calgary.
Although some of the views were hazy, we are so glad we did the trip. We know that this is definitely worth doing again, hopefully when the haziness has gone. Next time, we will also walk some of the trails that are on the route.
In total a beautiful trip and well worth a few hours travelling.