I've had a stiff neck before, but never from constantly looking up. Looking up around every turn. Over every pass. At mountain after mountain. But the view from the Icefields Parkwaya 143-mile ribbon of wide-shouldered road strung among the horned peaks, blue ice, and milky lakes of the Canadian Rockies between Lake Louise and Jasperis worth the pain. It's not a secret place, this corridor that hosts Banff and Jasper national parks, but it's surely a spectacular place. Cyclists can ride one-way to Jasper from Lake Louise in a few days, or join an outfitted trip that stops at mountain lodges along the way. My wife and I wanted a more demanding tour, so we stuffed our panniers with food, camping gear, and repair equipment and took a week to pedal the parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper and back, overnighting in the parks.
We survived passes (Bow Summit, 6,781 feet, is the route's highest point) and screaming downhills. And when we got tired, we stopped. We gazed at Bow Lake, fed by one of the eight glaciers descending from the Wapta Icefield, and at pyramidal 10,850-foot Mount Chephren. We hiked Banff National Park's Parker Ridge Trail (3.4 miles round-trip) through fossil beds to catch views of the Saskatchewan Glacier. And after what seemed like infinite turns of the cranks, our quadriceps were even more appreciative of these frequent respites than our scenery-tweaked necks.B.R.
DETAILS: The Jasper National Park Information Center (780-852-6176, www.parkscanada.gc.ca/jasper) provides national parks camping information. Backroads (800-462-2848, www.backroads.com) leads a six-day cycling trip, with accommodations in lodges, for $2,298.
Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park
Avoid the Banff crowds at 155,115-acre Don Getty, nestled among south-central Alberta's classic parks. A five-mile climb to Forget-Me-Not Ridge is rewarded with views of 11,000-foot peaks.P. V.
DETAILS: 403-591-6322, www.cd.gov.ab.ca