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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Does anything compare to the Icefields Parkway?

    Didn't do a road tour last year and I missed it.

    This year, I need to do one, but what compares to the Icefields which we did in 2007? I can't imagine any route compares, but I hope something does!

    I have 2 weeks max to take off at one time (likely have to be late June).

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    The Icefields was cold and rainy when we did it, so I don't have quite as fond of memories as most people, but... I really enjoyed the Dalton Highway from Prudhoe BAy to Fairbanks. Also, the part of the Alaska Highway through northern BC is absolutely magical!! We rode past lots and lots bears and bison. We could reach out and touch bighorn sheep. Caribou were grazing at the top of one pass. In short - absolutely spectacular ride!!
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  3. #3
    Hooked on Touring
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    I've done the Icefields a half-dozen times, so obviously, I enjoy it. It's also the only paved north-south route thru the Canadian Rockies. That said, I've had cold (5C) and rain the last week of July - which is, technically, the warmest week of the year. I've also had lovely weather, but I'd guess my average is about 50/50.

    Pluses -
    Scenery - superb.
    Shoulders - adequate throughout.
    Services - food, camping, hostels well spaced.
    Wildlife - lots to see, esp if you wander off road.

    Minuses -
    Expensive - daily park fees, camping - no H/B, food.
    (The grocery at Lake Louise is a ripoff as is the Icefields Centre.)
    Road surface - butt thumpers every 20 feet.
    Traffic - can be pretty thick, esp. on a weekend.

    If you do this over a two week period -
    You should definitely consider adding Kananaskis.
    Fabulous scenery and, in the southern section, 1/10 the crowds.
    http://tpr.alberta.ca/parks/kananaskis/flashindex.asp

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    Only things I've seen pictures of that compare (exceed) for mountain scenery are in Europe.

    Glacier NP is great, but it's only one day of great.

    Lots of nice mountain passes in the Colorado Rockies - not as concentratedly spectacular as the IP, though. Some of my favorite passes/areas:
    --Trailridge Road (Rocky Mtn Natl Park)
    --San Juan Skyway / Durango-Ouray-Montrose-Telluride
    --Cottonwood Pass (Crested Butte - Buena Vista)
    --Slumgullion & Wolf Creek Pass (Gunnison to Pagosa Springs)
    --Independence Pass (Aspen-Leadville)
    --Loveland Pass & Vail Pass (Dillon/Frisco area)
    --Hwy 92 from Blue Mesa Reservoir to Hotchkiss (very remote and car-less)
    In Colorado in the mountains, once you are west of Georgetown or so, you really can just use google maps to plan a highway tour, for the most part. It's all good as long as you stay in the mountains.

    Oregon/Washington/California Coast (Oregon & Big Sur especially) - if you only have 2 weeks, I would maybe do WA/OR coast, CA has a great stretch from SF to Santa BArbara, but it's too short for 2 weeks - you could maybe figure out a loop south on the coast thru Big Sur and north in the coast range.

    Utah/AZ - this is my next likely destination, i'm looking at a couple of routes that go from Tucson to Moab via St. George, take a look at Adventure Cycling's Utah Cliffs Loop, Grand Canyon Connector and Western Express (utah section). Not sure which parts might be too hot in June.
    ...

  5. #5
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    I have not been on the Icefields Parkway, but...

    - the North Cascades highway (Washington) is pretty spectacular, though the ride over the pass itself is only a day.

    However, the new Adventure Cycling Organization route that they published last year circles the North Cascade national park, Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainier National Park all in one tour. It's 895 miles and lots of climbing so perhaps a stretch for two weeks. But you could do either half of the route + a few days in the San Juan Islands.

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    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    there are some areas which could compare but often not a single road like Icefield Parkway:

    - Mountains in Taiwan
    - Santiago de Cuba to Niquero in Cuba
    - Picos de Europa in Spain (but not a single road)
    - Japan (Hokkaido) partly
    - Indiviual routes through the Alps
    etc

    Thomas
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  7. #7
    Senior Member gerald_g's Avatar
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    Radium route or Kanannaskis might be options.

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    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    As a former resident of Lake Louise, I've spent some time on the Icefields Parkway. Beautiful, yes, but I don't enjoy sharing the road with motorhomes labelled 'Rampage' and 'The Destroyer' driven by novices. Good training there, but there are much better off-road routes in the area.

    For another good ride, if your trip to the region is before mid June, is Highwood Pass (2206m, 7239ft). This section of hwy 40 is closed to cars from Dec to June 15. You can slalom from shoulder to shoulder down the highest paved road in Canada. There may be snow, though.

    Mind you, a 10m topographic feature would be a big deal where I am now...

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    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Not sure whether you intended to stay in the rockies or similar mountains, but perhaps riding along the St. Lawrence in Quebec would be worth considering:

    http://www.borealphoto.com/Cycling

    http://picasaweb.google.com/Passinoc...ipToLandsEnds#

    http://flickr.com/photos/msanseve/se...7607358962600/

    Very nice scenery on the river, Route Verte, and around the Gaspe area.

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    Here are some places I thought were as big a "wow" as the Icefields Parkway: western Norway (just about anywhere along a fjord), southwest New Zealand (Milford Trek), Bhutan (Tiger's Nest), Grand Canyon NP (1 day cycling beside), Zion NP, mtbiking around Bora Bora
    My life's mission is to find them all!

  11. #11
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Only things I've seen pictures of that compare (exceed) for mountain scenery are in Europe.


    Utah/AZ - this is my next likely destination, i'm looking at a couple of routes that go from Tucson to Moab via St. George, take a look at Adventure Cycling's Utah Cliffs Loop, Grand Canyon Connector and Western Express (utah section). Not sure which parts might be too hot in June.

    I did Tucson AZ to Capital Reef Utah via Hurricane You will like that. By far one of the great routes a geological wonder the whole way through. It also meets many touring needs.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    a few days in the San Juan Islands.
    The San Juan Islands are on my list to consider, especially if I can combine them with Victoria and the Olympic Peninsula via ferry.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnyW View Post
    Hi,

    there are some areas which could compare but often not a single road like Icefield Parkway:

    - Mountains in Taiwan
    - Santiago de Cuba to Niquero in Cuba
    - Picos de Europa in Spain (but not a single road)
    - Japan (Hokkaido) partly
    - Indiviual routes through the Alps
    etc

    Thomas
    Due to my limited time off, overseas travel is somewhat challenging and time-consuming, not to mention expensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by gerald_g View Post
    Radium route or Kanannaskis might be options.
    Quote Originally Posted by Metzinger View Post
    For another good ride, if your trip to the region is before mid June, is Highwood Pass (2206m, 7239ft). This section of hwy 40 is closed to cars from Dec to June 15. You can slalom from shoulder to shoulder down the highest paved road in Canada. There may be snow, though.
    We connnected Kanannaskis and Highwood Pass to the Icefields in 2007. Definitely a well-worth add-on to the ride!!! Thanks to the BF members for recommending that last time!


    Quote Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
    Not sure whether you intended to stay in the rockies or similar mountains, but perhaps riding along the St. Lawrence in Quebec would be worth considering.
    I'm heading to Quebec in the fall for a conference, so I'll try to take a bike with me then!
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  13. #13
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Utah. Bryce Canyon to Torrey.

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    cyclotourist
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    I would say the Norwegian Fjords, although it rained a lot when I was there, and the arctic coast of Norway, the Kystriksveien. I only saw the coast from the Hurtigruten coastal ferry, but it looked spectacular.

    I haven't ridden there but some of the passes in the Alps look at least as scenic as the Icefields parkway, but with much more challenging riding.

    In my book the San Juan islands or the California coast don't compare, but much of that is personal preference.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Only things I've seen pictures of that compare (exceed) for mountain scenery are in Europe.

    Glacier NP is great, but it's only one day of great.

    Lots of nice mountain passes in the Colorado Rockies - not as concentratedly spectacular as the IP, though. Some of my favorite passes/areas:
    --Trailridge Road (Rocky Mtn Natl Park)
    --San Juan Skyway / Durango-Ouray-Montrose-Telluride
    --Cottonwood Pass (Crested Butte - Buena Vista)
    --Slumgullion & Wolf Creek Pass (Gunnison to Pagosa Springs)
    --Independence Pass (Aspen-Leadville)
    --Loveland Pass & Vail Pass (Dillon/Frisco area)
    --Hwy 92 from Blue Mesa Reservoir to Hotchkiss (very remote and car-less)
    In Colorado in the mountains, once you are west of Georgetown or so, you really can just use google maps to plan a highway tour, for the most part. It's all good as long as you stay in the mountains.

    Oregon/Washington/California Coast (Oregon & Big Sur especially) - if you only have 2 weeks, I would maybe do WA/OR coast, CA has a great stretch from SF to Santa BArbara, but it's too short for 2 weeks - you could maybe figure out a loop south on the coast thru Big Sur and north in the coast range.

    Utah/AZ - this is my next likely destination, i'm looking at a couple of routes that go from Tucson to Moab via St. George, take a look at Adventure Cycling's Utah Cliffs Loop, Grand Canyon Connector and Western Express (utah section). Not sure which parts might be too hot in June.
    We drove through Glacier on the way home from the Icefields. Nice, but definitely only a day long in comparison. We drove part of the San Juan Skyway this year and it seemed awfully busy and definitely narrow in comparison to the Icefields. I think we've driven most of those areas except Trail Ridge. And last time we tried to drive it, it was still closed in June because of snow, so that may or may not be an option.

    Oregon and Northern California could be very tempting if we can find a way to get back to our starting point. Maybe a SW Oregon circle that takes in the coast, some Redwoods in NW CA and Crater Lake???

    Southern Utah is amazing, but we were there not too long ago on a hike and mountain bike trip, otherwise I would say this is a great choice. My sister did a mountain bike ride with Western Spirit in this area and loved it.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp View Post

    Oregon and Northern California could be very tempting if we can find a way to get back to our starting point. Maybe a SW Oregon circle that takes in the coast, some Redwoods in NW CA and Crater Lake???

    one-way rental car, or fly in and out of different airports.
    ...

  17. #17
    Hooked on Touring
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    The Jersey Turnpike?

  18. #18
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp View Post
    Due to my limited time off, overseas travel is somewhat challenging and time-consuming, not to mention expensive.
    Okay the limited time I accept. Oversea travel (Canada is one for me) isn't challaging. And 4 weeks in Japan cost me a third of the expenses in Canada.

    Thomas
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp View Post
    ... but what compares to the Icefields which we did in 2007? I can't imagine any route compares, but I hope something does!
    Compares in what way? The only thing which I recall that was unique about the Icefields Parkway was the wide paved shoulder along most of it. However there was more adjacent traffic than most mountain roads I've biked on. As for scenery, I can think of many places I've biked that surpass the scenery of the Icefields. The Lake Region of Chile & Argentina comes immediately to mind. Various parts of Switzerland and France. Going-to-the-Sun road may be only 1 day of riding, but it is breathtaking. Same for Crater Lake. Some roads in Colorado are wonderful, too. A few parts of New Zealand had magnificent scenery, and not just the mountainous parts. I remember a road on the eastern slope of the Andes in Ecuador which had stunning subtropical forest with a backdrop of huge peaks.

    So, for a realistic 2 week trip in North America, perhaps SW Utah, encompassing Bryce, Zion, Cedar Breaks, & Snow Canyon. Or the San Juan mountains in SW Colorado. Or SF to LA. Or combine the San Juan islands & Gulf Islands.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnyW View Post
    Okay the limited time I accept. Oversea travel (Canada is one for me) isn't challaging. And 4 weeks in Japan cost me a third of the expenses in Canada.

    Thomas
    I was thinking the cost to fly my wife and I and all of our gear to another continent as being the cost prohibitive part. I can do two weeks of comfortable touring in the US/Canada for the cost of the flight and shipping to another continent.

  21. #21
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp View Post
    Didn't do a road tour last year and I missed it.

    This year, I need to do one, but what compares to the Icefields which we did in 2007? I can't imagine any route compares, but I hope something does!

    I have 2 weeks max to take off at one time (likely have to be late June).

    Any suggestions?

    Mile for mile the Icefields is best. Anybody who complains about the traffic is a ninny...the shoulder is the widest lane on the damn road...which just goes to show you how compulsively unhappy some cyclists are. Yes, the costs of facilities and camping add up, but commercial areas are very limited, and last time I looked, limited supply meant higher prices. If ya want cheap coffee, head over to edmonton and go to Timmy Hortons. Of course then ya can complain about right hooks and traffic!

    The mountains are remarkable. Of the two passes, Bow and Sunwapta, I prefer the latter. Ferocious climbs on both sides, awesome scenery, including both valley glaciers and the edges of (small) ice sheets. The overlook at Bow Lake is beautiful. Watch for moose in the lower elevations where ya have wetlands and bogs on the west side of the road.

    When I was there all the youth hostels were primitive; so ya never got the "hop off the bus with our backpack and pretend we are outdoorsman!" sort of experience ya have at the Hostels in Europe. The campgrounds are nice but bears are everywhere and given that we cyclists tend to carry things bears love (peanut butter, granola, honey, eggs, etc in my case), it might be the better part of virtue to stay at the hostels.

    But those damn bumps every 20 yards or so drive ya batty!


    Of my experience elsewhere, there are few roads that compare to it. Riding a long tour thru the alps sure can beat it; but in terms of any one road, I can't think of any. The Karakoram highway snakes thru the Himalaya, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush, but is narrow and dangerous in many places. Colorado's 'million dollar highway' was too much cliff and rock for my preference. The Blue Ridge Parkway can rival the Icefields, but i'd say only in the Spring when the rhododendrons are out. Vermont Rt 100 can also; but only in the fall when the colors are spectacular. Parts of the Pacific coast highway can rival it, but again it is narrow and too "California", if ya know what i mean.

    roughstuff
    Last edited by Roughstuff; 01-08-09 at 10:52 AM.
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