British Columbia to just east of the Alberta border the land is
young, with rugged mountains, high plateaus and signs of
geologically-recent volcanic activity.
Rocky Mountains, the Coastal Mountains and other ranges, running
north to south, posed major engineering problems for the
builders of the transcontinental railways and highways. Canada's
highest peaks, however, are not in the Rockies, but in the St.
Elias Mountains, an extension of the Cordillera stretching north
into the Yukon and Alaska. The highest point in Canada, Mount
Logan (5 959 metres), rises amid a huge icefield in the
southwest corner of the Yukon.
The British Columbia interior varies from alpine snowfields to
deep valleys where desert-like conditions prevail. The Cordilleran mountain system receives heavy amounts of
precipitation, as rain at lower altitudes and snow at higher
best known area of the cordillera is the Rocky Mountains. They
are an important source of tourism for Canada, with Banff
National Park (founded in 1885 and Canada’s oldest park) and
Jasper National Park. Both parks are famous for their turquoise
alpine lakes, spectacular icefields, pleasant hot springs and
Photo: Lake Moraine, August 2002
Moraine Lake, elev. 1910 m (6265'), is located in Banff National
Park, in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada. The beautiful
cyan or turquoise color of the water is caused by fine rock
powder, which is suspended in the water and reflects the blue
wavelengths of light. The rock powder, or glacial flour, comes
from the meltwater of nearby valley glaciers. As a glacier
moves, it grinds the rock comprising the valley floor and walls,
reducing it to a fine powder.
The historical Upper Hot
Springs bathhouse in Banff
1932: On July 1, the Upper
Hot Springs bathhouse opened, complete with sulfur water
swimming pool, plunge baths, steam rooms, tubs, showers
and dressing rooms. Its splendour rivaled the famous
spas of Europe.
1995: Restoration of the
bathhouse to its 1932 appearance occurred.