RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip


Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks, by Korina Miller, Susan Derby, & David Lukas


Here's undeniable proof that a good book can be written by committee. The three authors of Lonely Planet's new Banff, Jasper, and Glacier National Parks, together with project manager Kathleen Munnelly, have succeeded in packing more useful and fascinating information into 296 pages than I would have thought possible. Considering the fact that these three parks span a huge area between Kalispell, Montana, and Edmonton, Alberta, I am impressed that a book small enough to fit in a jacket pocket offers enough detail to plan and enjoy driving and hiking through the Canadian Rockies and also has plenty of detail about history, geology, flora, and fauna. Oh, yeah, and good maps, too. And an enticing selection of color photographs. How they managed to cram all this in and still use font sizes plenty large enough to read easily is a mystery I am happy to leave unsolved.

I recommend reading this book while you are planning (or even just considering) a visit to the Canadian Rockies. The suggested itineraries offer outlines for road trips as short as half a day and as long as a week. Nicely organized charts list hiking trails along with distance, elevation change, degree of difficulty, features, facilities, and a brief description. You'll also find plenty of information about seasonal activities from fishing to skiing, how to deal with bears, elk, and moose, how to get away from the crowds, how to find a job, where to stay, where to eat, and where to party. The budgeting tips are good guidelines, and whenever prices are mentioned, clear distinction is made between U.S. and Canadian dollars.

The short articles on historical topics sprinkled throughout the guide make for fascinating reading. Expect to learn about wonders like Project Habakkuk, a World War II-era plan to build a streamlined iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean to serve as an aircraft landing strip. A prototype was built in 1942 in Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park, but exorbitant cost kept the project from going forward. All that's left of Project Habakkuk is a wooden frame at the bottom of the lake and a good story. Another such tale concerns Reverend George Kinney, who may or may not have been the first climber to reach the summit of Mount Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks is also remarkably easy to navigate. The careful use of bold-faced type makes key words stand out on the pages, the index is comprehensive, and the appendix lists telephone numbers and Web addresses for parks, accommodations, tour operators, and relevant organizations as well as suggestions for further reading and maps.

Is there a flaw? All I could find was one typo on page 32. This is a truly great book.

Megan Edwards
5/2/04

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