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Visiting Crowsnest Lake, Alberta, Overlooked by Crowsnest Mountain: Majesty in the Heart of the Canadian Rockies

Updated on August 17, 2018
Provincial flag of Alberta
Provincial flag of Alberta | Source

Highly striking scenes

Go anywhere in the world and I would subjectively reckon that there are many, similarly impressive mountain scenes to those in the vicinity of Crowsnest Mountain and Crowsnest Lake, but probably few would be significantly more impressive than what is to be seen here.

In any case, Crowsnest Mountain, located within Alberta's Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, and first known to have been climbed in 1904, has such steep inclines, and its shape reminds me somewhat of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain (Portuguese: Pão de Açúcar) at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (The difference being that, while Rio de Janeiro's Sugarloaf Mountain is 396 metres high, Alberta's Crowsnest Mountain reaches a height of 2785 metres.)

Crowsnest Mountain and Seven Sisters (to the left) in the Canadian Rockies. Picture (probably) taken from Highway 3 above Crowsnest Lake looking north (NNE), some 5 km east of Crowsnest Pass,
Crowsnest Mountain and Seven Sisters (to the left) in the Canadian Rockies. Picture (probably) taken from Highway 3 above Crowsnest Lake looking north (NNE), some 5 km east of Crowsnest Pass, | Source
 Crowsnest Mountain, Alberta, Canada. Taken from the Crowsnest Highway in Crowsnest Pass.
Crowsnest Mountain, Alberta, Canada. Taken from the Crowsnest Highway in Crowsnest Pass. | Source
View of the towns of Coleman (near) and Blairmore (far) from the summit of Crowsnest Mountain.
View of the towns of Coleman (near) and Blairmore (far) from the summit of Crowsnest Mountain. | Source
View of Crowsnest Mountain from Highway 3 in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada
View of Crowsnest Mountain from Highway 3 in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, Canada | Source

Of trout and (possibly) ravens

Highway 3 links communities in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, with the Pass itself which borders and extends into neighbouring British Columbia. Crowsnest Lake is accessible from close to Highway 3.

The Lake has an interesting history as regards its trout. It is a deep lake, and native to Crowsnest Lake were cutthroat trout. This variety of trout, however, has been displaced by lake trout (1). In the US — if not to the same extent in Canada — lake trout is sometimes regarded as invasive (2).

Fishing enthusiasts should note that Crowsnest Lake has a sharply dropping bottom, and experiences strong westerly winds; thus, fishing from the shore is not advisable.

Crowsnest Lake gives its name also to a camp, founded in 1956, situated close to the Provincial boundary with British Columbia (3). It must be an idyllic location for a young people's camp, if sometimes a windy one, since the Crowsnest Pass acts as a kind of funnel for westerly winds.

The Lake has an area of 1.19 kilometres, with a maximum depth of 27.4 metres and a mean depth of 13.5 metres (4).

The summit area of Crowsnest Mountain is composed of limestone. Its name is sometimes said to be derived from local First Nations' observation of many ravens in its vicinity. This is, however, disputed; others claim that it refers to an historical conflict between Crow and Blackfoot First Nations.

Crowsnest Mountain also gives its name to the Range of mountains among which it is numbered in the Canadian Rockies. Not far from the Lake is an information centre for tourists, sponsored by the Province of Alberta; this is located on Highway 3 and is clearly marked for motorists. I am sure that Crowsnest Mountain and Crowsnest Lake count among the Province's most outstanding natural treasures!

My instinctive reaction to such overwhelmingly breathtaking views in the Rockies is that they declare something of Divine majesty.

February 21, 2015

Notes

(1) See also: http://www.crownofthecontinent.net/content/crowsnest-lake/cot6C9EB0AEF9ADC79AF . For further details re. fishing on Crowsnest Lake, see: http://albertafishingguide.com/location/water/all/crowsnest-lake

(2) This is particularly so in Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming, where lake trout were introduced contrary to conservation policy in the 1980s.

(3) I did not visit the camp, not do I have contacts with it, but its website is: http://www.crowcamp.ca/

(4) See also: http://sunsite.ualberta.ca/Projects/Alberta-Lakes/view/?region=South%20Saskatchewan%20Region&basin=Oldman%20River%20Basin&lake=Crowsnest%20Lake&number=118 (NB: there is a typographical error on this webpage regarding the cited distance from the Lake to Coleman.)

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Map location of Crowsnest Pass, Census Division No. 15, Alberta
Map location of Crowsnest Pass, Census Division No. 15, Alberta | Source

Also worth seeing

Coleman (within the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta) has an interesting local history museum and gift shup, which specializes in the mining heritage of the region.

Frank (also within the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta) has a poignant interpretive centre commemorating a devastating rock fall which considerably obliterated much of the town of Frank in 1903.

Sparwood, British Columbia (distance: approx. 20 kilometres from Crowsnest Pass); home to what is known as 'the largest truck in the world', a Titan on display, formerly used in the local mining industry; Sparwood, on the Elk River, is known for its large murals depicting life at the former mining communities of Michel and Natal; there are various campsites locally.

How to get there

One of the nearest international airports to the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is Cranbrook / Canadian Rockies International Airport (road distance to Crowsnest Pass: approx. 145 kilometres), to which Air Canada flies, via Vancouver, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. The much larger Calgary International Airport (distance: approx. 230.2 kilometres), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Air Canada also flies to Lethbridge Airport (distance: approx. 144.5 kilometres), via Calgary, from where car rental is also available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

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