When we planned this trip, one of the roads that intrigued me was the Big Horn Highway from Grande Prairie Alberta to Grand Cache and then to HInton, the gateway to Jasper. In the Milepost, the road was described in glowing terms, indicating beautiful views and abundant wildlife. From the way the road was described, I wasn’t even sure it was going to be an easy road for the MoHo. The road was better than many on the trip, and it turns out the only wildlife we saw much of were the fast moving pick-up trucks driven by guys that I assumed were working the abundant oil fields.
We took our time leaving the comfortable park in Grande Prairie, knowing that we planned to boondock somewhere along the highway for the evening, since we planned to spend the entire next day exploring Jasper National Park. No rush, no hurry. The MoHo was shiny clean, rugs all washed, fresh showers and fresh shampoos for us and we were ready for a day of just rolling along.
It was almost 11 when we pulled out of town and the air was a bit murky, but certainly not as bad as the previous day. The sun was hot coming through the windshield, and we spent most of the day with the windows open enjoying the breezes. I’m so glad that Jeremy now simply ignores open windows and happily lounges on the dash when the windows are open. Now and then he will lift his nose to the wind and smell whatever it brings his way.
This route turned out to be rather boring, and even though it is listed as a scenic route, there are very few turnouts, no interpretive signs to explain the landscape, most of the time, hardly any shoulder to even pull over for a photo. As we approached Grand Cache, we noticed a huge coal plant along the Shadow River and dramatic coal seams in the bedrock along the highway.
The town of Grand Cache was a beautiful bright spot in the sunny say, with brilliant blue skies and big white puffies, my favorite. There is a lovely visitor center that we thoroughly enjoyed. They are in the process of rescuing the historic fire lookouts, moving them to the visitor center park, and telling the story of each one. We spent some enjoyable moments walking around the park with Abby and reading all the interpretive signs about the First Nations culture in the area, the history of the coal industry, and the stories of the forest lookouts.
As afternoon began to lengthen, and we were just ten miles or so north of Hinton, a wide turnout appeared with a side road slipping behind the timber. Perfect! We unhooked so we could drop a bit out of sight and parked for the very warm evening. Even though there was a fire ring, the mosquitos and heat made a fire seem less enticing, and instead we turned on the fans and after an early supper settled in with our books. I liked that we were invisible from the busy road, and by dark most of the traffic subsided.
Road condition: 2 lane paved highway with a ton of construction and lots of big pick-ups driving fast, the oil industry employs lots of guys in big pick-ups!
A few photos from this day of travel are linked here.