Daily closures on Alberta’s Icefields Parkway expected for weeks as fire rages
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Anyone travelling between Lake Louise and Jasper on the Icefields Parkway in the next six to eight weeks should plan to do it between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m., Parks Canada warns.
Outside those hours, a stretch of the busy summer route is expected to be closed daily as crews battle a large wildfire in the area.
“We’re trying to make it as predictable as possible with road closures,” Parks Canada communications officer Tania Peters said Sunday. “We do still have to manage that fire close to the roadway.”
The closed section is about a 45-minute drive north of Lake Louise between Saskatchewan River Crossing Resort and Waterfowl Lakes Campground. Travel on nearby Highway 11 is also expected to be impacted by the fire but to a lesser degree.
While the precise location and exact times of the closure could change with conditions, “barring anything major,” Peters said the highway should be open daily for that seven-hour period, when traffic is typically at its busiest.
Traveller Nicole Veerman was caught by the closure Saturday afternoon while taking a Sun Dog Tours bus between Calgary and Jasper.
The bus made it partly up the Parkway but then had to turn around and return to Banff, she said, where passengers were left scrambling to find hotel rooms on short notice for as much as $300 a night.
“There was a lot of frustration and anger,” Veerman said.
An alternate bus made it through on Sunday morning, she added, and the impact of fire was still evident.
“We could see it as we drove by,” she said. “It was smouldering just a couple metres off the highway.”
The Spreading Creek Wildfire is burning in an eastern portion of Banff National Park and extends eastward beyond the park boundary. Crews from both Parks Canada and Alberta Environment are working to control the blaze.
Parks Canada has also closed many areas near the blaze to recreational use and off-highway travel.
“It basically just covers areas in the backcountry,” Peters said. “We feel pretty confident moving traffic through but we certainly don’t want people camped in an area where it’s harder for us keep track of them and could lead to an evacuation situation if conditions were to change.”
Area closures in Banff National Park:
• From Dolomite Pass down Dolomite creek to the Park Boundary
• From the head of the Siffleur River drainage, at Pipestone pass, just north of Clearwater pass down the Siffleur River to the Park Boundary
Noyes and Totem Creeks:
• Above Waterfowl Lakes, on the East side of Highway 93 North encompassing both the Noyes and Totem drainages
Saskatchewan Crossing Area:
• Glacier Lake Trail
• Warden Lake Trail
• Owen Creek Trail
• Mistaya Canyon/Sarbach/Howse River Trails
• Bike trail that parallels Highway 11 on southeast side of highway
• Howse River Trail - leading from Saskatchewan Crossing Warden station - Informal trails behind Saskatchewan Crossing resort