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Glacier National Park, Canada
Rogers Pass and Beaver River
August 5-6, 2015

map showing location of Glacier National Park map showing location of Rogers Pass

Glacier National Park is one of seven national parks in British Columbia, and is part of a system of 43 parks and park reserves across Canada. Established in 1886, the park encompasses 521 square miles and includes a portion of the Columbia Mountains. It also contains the Rogers Pass National Historic Site.

history bookThe park's history is closely tied to two primary Canadian transportation routes, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), completed in 1885, and the Trans Canada Highway, completed in 1963. The pass eluded explorers until 1881. The railway brought with it tourism, the establishment of Glacier National Park and the construction of a popular alpine hotel (which is currently closed). The heavy winter snows and steep, avalanche-prone valleys of the park have been a major obstacle to transportation, necessitating much railway engineering and avalanche control measures.

The park contains high peaks, large active glaciers, and one of Canada's largest cave systems. Its dense forests support populations of large mammals, birds, and alpine species. The region is noted for its heavy snowfall. The park has an extensive network of trails, three campgrounds, and four backcountry huts and cabins. Due to the major transportation routes that bisect it, Glacier National Park sees large numbers of visitors. The park has 131 glaciers.

Major peaks and ranges: The highest point in the park is Mount Dawson, at 11,079 feet. Peaks of the Hermit Range, the Bonney and Bostock Groups, the Van Horne Range, Purity Range, Dawson Range, and the precipitous Sir Donald Range all lie wholly or in part within the park.

sign: Glacier National Park of Canada

Have you ever heard the term, “snow shed” and wondered what it is? Well, it’s not a place to keep extra snow. Actually, it’s more like a tunnel – a concrete cover built over the road to protect traffic from avalanches. Snow sheds are designed to withstand the incredible forces involved with vast amounts of sliding snow, however they’re not meant to stop it. Instead, the sheds deflect the snow, allowing it to pass over top while traffic continues to flow underneath. There are several snow sheds throughout the province, and Ministry looks after four of them: three on Highway 1 and one on Highway 5 (the Coquihalla). Parks Canada looks after five others, all located in Glacier National Park by Rogers Pass on Highway 1.

snow shed sign cars and trucks entering a snow shed
truck entering the snow shed in fromt of the two RV Gypsies' RV the two RV Gypsies drive their RV through a snow shed

history bookRogers Pass: An expedition led by Major Albert Bowman Rogers up the Illecillewaet led to the discovery of a viable pass in 1881. Rogers was awarded a five thousand dollar prize for locating a route through the mountains. By 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) had constructed a line through Rogers Pass and trains were traveling west to the Pacific for the first time in Canada. The federal government and the CPR quickly realized the tourism potential of the mountainous, heavily glaciated area, and Glacier National Park was established in 1886. Along with Yoho National Park, also established in 1886, the park was just the second in the new parks system after Banff National Park, established a year earlier.

driving by Rogers Pass at Glacier NP sign: summit of Rogers Pass

Rogers Pass is a narrow valley surrounded by a number of mountains. It is formed by the headwaters of the Illecillewaet River to the west and by the Beaver River to the east. Both of these rivers are tributaries of the Columbia River, which loops about 240 km around to the north of the pass. Rogers Pass (elevation 4,360 feet) is a shortcut across the "Big Bend" of the Columbia River from Revelstoke on the west to Donald, near Golden, on the east. The pass was discovered on May 29, 1881, by Major Albert Bowman Rogers, a surveyor working for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Rogers had a second pass named for him in 1887 in Montana, 373 miles to the south-east.

The location has tourist services including the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and National Park services. Rogers Pass is commemorated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

Rogers Pass is known for its winter snowfall, which amounts to about 10 m per year. Because of steep mountains, avalanches are very common in winter. When the railway first went over the pass, 31 snow sheds with a total length of about 6.5 km were built to protect the railway from the avalanches. Snow sheds for the Trans-Canada Highway were built later, including large ones in 1962.

sign: Rogers Pass Centre sign: Summit of Rogers Pass

Below: Rogers Pass Monument Arches - These arches form a part of a monument celebrating the opening of the road through Rogers Pass which was officially opened on September 3rd, 1962. The major arch represents confederation and the minor arch represents transportation.

Rogers Pass Monument Arches Rogers Pass Monument Arches

Below: Trans-Canada Highway map under the Rogers Pass Monument Arches.

Trans-Canada Highway map Trans-Canada Highway map

The original highway between Revelstoke and Golden followed the Columbia River around the Big Bend to avoid crossing Rogers Pass. Between 1956 and 1962 a new highway was built over the pass to shorten the route, which now formed part of the Trans-Canada Highway. This also allowed the construction of Mica Dam, which flooded part of the Big Bend as Kinbasket Lake. A number of snow sheds and earth dams are used to protect the Rogers Pass highway from avalanches. Rogers Pass is home to the largest mobile avalanche control program in the world. Parks Canada and the Department of National Defence work together to keep the pass safe for traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline.

Trans-Canada Highway sign

The sign shown below was too big for one photo. It identifies mountains and glaciers seen from Rogers Pass.

sign to ID mountains and glaciers - part 1
sign to ID mountains and glaciers - part 2
sign - Mt Tupper and The Hermit Mt Tupper and The Hermit
sign: Swiss Glaciert Swiss Glacier
Illecillewaet glacier and Loukout Mountain sign Illecillewaet glacier and Loukout Mountain
Lee Duquette ringing the bell sign about Main Street Canada

Waterfall and a river seen while driving through Glacier National Park.

waterfall river
snow shed snow shed
scenery

Below: The two RV Gypsies were going to take a hike until they saw the below sign about unexploded shells. Plus the hike was longer than what they wanted to do.

To keep the Highway open during the winter, the Royal Canadian Artillery uses 105 mm howitzers to knock down the avalanches under controlled circumstances so traffic is not caught in unexpected avalanches.

unexploded shells sign

Below: The Beaver River is the eastern egress from the Rogers Pass. Its valley is the route of the Trans-Canada Highway and Canadian Pacific Railway on that side of the pass. Its lower reaches are officially named Beaver Canyon. The pass between the Beaver River and the Duncan River forms the dividing line between the Selkirks and the Purcell Mountains.

sign: Beaver Valley sign: Beaver River

The view of Beaver River where the two RV Gypsies had a peaceful picnic lunch.

Beaver River Beaver River
informative sign sign about Jurassic Peaks
look below

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