By Austin Adventures Guides /

Contrary to popular belief, Canada does get summer! The sled dogs take some time off while we all enjoy 80 degree days and swimming in sapphire mountain lakes. This year, summer was a scorcher. With very few clouds or ‘afternoon convective activity’ (a.k.a. huge awesome thunderstorms!), Team Alberta didn’t have to implement rainy-day Plan B’s very often. But of course, all that heat and sunshine dries the landscape significantly. As a result, we saw quite a few forest fires in Alberta. One of the most prominent ran alongside the highway we drive to go explore the Athabasca Glacier. Known as the Spreading Creek fire, this 10,000 hectare (a hectare is 2.5 acres) fire sparked many questions and comments from our summer guests.

Aerial smoke



Road smoke“What a shame?” “Oh goodness, how terrible!” “Wasn’t there anything anyone could do to stop it?” Our response? Well, fires are in fact an absolutely crucial part of the landscape here. Our famous grizzly bears rely on a particular berry, counter-intuitively known as Buffalo Berry, for fattening up before hibernation. This berry bush produces its maximum yield soon after fire activity, and eventually becomes unproductive if fire is checked too long. Many of our conifers are unable to reproduce until the intense heat of a fire opens their pine cones. Hordes of wildlife feed on the diversity of berries, grasses and other vegetation that spring up and benefit from the recycled nutrients in areas that have been recently burned. So, when our guests saw the extensive scars of the fire, we were able to reassure them that what they were looking at was forest regeneration in action. The blackened trees and ash, so akin to destruction to our eyes, are in fact a promise of the purple hues of iridescent fireweed, a dramatic increase in plant diversity, and hopefully some phenomenal wildlife watching from the highway next summer!

If you want to visit Alberta next summer, check out our itineraries online or request our 2015 Austin Adventures catalogs! Here is what a few guests had to say about their 2014 Alberta vacations:

– “Wonderful, thoughtful, smart and kind guides. Spectacular crowd-beating spots and activities!” – Fleming, Alberta: Canadian Rockies, Montclair, NJ

– “Great trip! Well planned and executed yet enough flexibility to accommodate the needs of the group.” – Kyle, Alberta Family: Banff to Jasper, Millburn, NJ

– “Simply fantastic – everything about it!” – Jeff, Alberta Family: Banff to Jasper, Gibsonia, PA

– “The trip was awesome, it was our 2nd with Austin Adventures and we look forward to our next one.” – Tom, Alberta: Banff to Jasper, Smithtown, NY 

– “A wonderful mix and overview of activities and the region…All of the fish were excellent: arctic char, salmon, halibut, trout, etc.” – Russell, Alberta: Banff to Jasper, Minneapolis, MN

– “Such a special trip. Food was amazing, guides were great, views were spectacular!” – Michelle, Alberta: Hiking in the Canadian Rockies, Sherman Oaks, CA

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