From 1980: If you got off the road, you'd see more of the Rockies

There was lots to see in the four national parks of the Rockies, but few visitors could be bothered to get out of their cars.

Certain areas saw huge crowds while beauty spots were virtually deserted in 1980

Lots to see in national parks beyond where cars go

42 years ago
Duration 2:29
There's lots of space in national parks in the Rockies, but people aren't taking advantage of it.

Visitors to B.C.'s Yoho National Park could get to Takakkaw Falls easily enough, given the falls' location just off the highway.

Just a few kilometres away was another spectacular sight, but far fewer viewers took it in.

"Perhaps only a few hundred of the millions who pass through the park will recognize these as the Twin Falls," said CBC reporter Terry Milewski in a report from The National in summer 1980. A aerial shot showed a double cascade falling many metres to the river below.

'You don't see it from the highway'

A bus would take tourists right to Seven Veils Falls at Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, but only a few hundred a year took advantage of it. (The National/CBC Archives)

A helicopter wasn't necessary to glimpsing Twin Falls, but travellers did have to get out of their cars and walk for three hours — something very few people took the trouble to do.

"You're foolish for not walking up here," said a woman from Iowa who had made the journey. "It's beautiful."

"This is just such spectacular scenery up here," added her companion. "Really, the only way you see it is on the back trails. You don't see it from the highway."

The same was true throughout all four national parks in the Rockies.

Lake Louise, an undeniably photogenic site within Banff National Park in Alberta, was always jammed with people.

A bus too far

There was no shortage of visitors to Lake Louise, but other parts of the national parks were virtually empty by comparison. (The National/CBC Archives)

Just over the mountain range within view was Seven Veils Falls, also in Yoho on Lake O'Hara.

"You don't even have to walk here. You can take a short bus ride," said Milewski, as the camera showed a breathtaking set of falls. "But that's too much for all but a few hundred each year."

 Of the seven million people who passed through Banff National Park each year, only 60,000 — less than one per cent — ever got off the highway, said Milewski.

"The modern park visitor is motor-bound, wedded to his wheels," said the reporter. "The campers just will not stray from their power hookups."

'Lots of room'

A long line of motorhomes and trailers could be seen at a campsite, connected to the grid.

Andy Anderson just didn't get it.

The chief warden of all four parks said there were 7,000 square miles of land available for people to see.

"If we could get [visitors] dispersed out, and get them to where they can see something other than Banff Avenue ... we've got lots of room for them," he said. 

Less than one per cent of motorists in Banff National Park ever got off the highway. (The National/CBC Archives)

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