Canadian Rockies Geology Road Tours
By Ben Gadd
If you have spent a lot of time enjoying our Rocky Mountains you have probably acquired a guide to the flora and fauna of the area so that you could identify and put a name to what you were seeing.
That book may have been The Canadian Hikers and Backpackers Handbook, by Ben Gadd.
Now you are heading into the mountains again and you still have questions about how and when these mountains came to be.
Maybe you had some small fry that grooved on words like diplodocus and tyrannosaurus, but now they are older and they need some new words to satisfy their linguistic gymnastics.
How about stromatoporoids, clastics, and cretaceous?
This book by Ben Gadd covers the geology of the Rockies from the Liard River just south of the Yukon border to Kalispel over the border of the United States. An area 180-km wide at the widest point and 1,464-km long, and an area of 194,260 km.
There are 500 plus pages of facts on the formation of the Rockies told by a man whose passion for this area is evident in every word.
He begins with 90 pages entitled, “Geological basics needed to understand this book.” (Don’t miss these!)
Then he charts out 10 suggested tours, side trips and miscellany included, which will teach the traveler about old rock, middle aged mountains and young landscape.
The author advises using a GPS or your vehicle odometer, so that he can guide you along the tours, pointing out areas of interest.
He says, like a Dutch Uncle, “do not read this book while you are driving!”
The first tour is the Trans Canada Highway Tour and is divided: Calgary to Canmore, Canmore to Lake Louise and Lake Louise to Golden. This last section includes the details of the Burgess Shale, a World Heritage Site.
The journey continues with the Vermillion Pass route, Kananaskis trail and Southern foothills, and on to the Waterton area.
If you are really footloose you could take in the John Hart Highway over Pine Pass and the Alaska Highway through the Northern Rockies.
There is a great deal of information here and it would take several trips, (or the same trip several times) to absorb it all.
Miscellany includes the questions we have all asked, “why are the mountain lakes so green,” and “can I keep the fossils I find?”
You may be wondering how long these trips will take, and how much of this information you can take in.
Ben Gadd says that scientists can predict how long the mountains will last by measuring the Bubnoffs. Bubnoffs represent one mm of land surface reduction per 1,000 years. At present rates “Mount Robson will lie at the elevation of West Edmonton Mall in 54,7666,666 years and eight months. This gives you plenty of time to take this book, set your GPS and begin your journey into the beautiful Canadian Rockies.
Peggy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Red Deer.