Tonquin Valley

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The Ramparts and Amethyst Lake as seen from a ridge of Oldhorn Mountain Ramparts in Tonquin Valley, Jasper National Park.jpg
The Ramparts and Amethyst Lake as seen from a ridge of Oldhorn Mountain

The Tonquin Valley is located in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, next to the border of the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, an area which is also the continental divide, running along the peaks of the South Jasper Range (including The Ramparts subrange) which rise above Amethyst Lake. Tonquin Creek drains Moat Lake and flows west into Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, and empties into the Fraser River. The Astoria River drains south and east into the Athabasca River.

Jasper National Park national park in the Canadian Rockies

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, spanning 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It is located in the province of Alberta, north of Banff National Park and west of Edmonton. The park contains the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, springs, lakes, waterfalls and mountains.

Alberta Province of Canada

Alberta is a province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,067,175 as of 2016 census, it is Canada's fourth most populous province and the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Its area is about 660,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq mi). Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier is Jason Kenney as of April 30, 2019.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.


The Tonquin Valley leads to Tonquin Pass which cradles the Amythyst Lakes at its crest beneath the 1,000-metre (3,300 ft) Precambrian quartzite wall of the Ramparts. [1] The valley was named after the Pacific Fur Company ship Tonquin , destroyed in Clayoquot Sound in 1811.

Tonquin Pass, 1948 m (6393 ft), is a mountain pass in the Canadian Rockies, linking Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park, Alberta, to Mount Robson Provincial Park and adjoining areas of British Columbia. It is at the headwaters of Tonquin Creek, which flows into British Columbia. Located on the interprovincial boundary, it is on the Continental Divide.

The Precambrian is the earliest part of Earth's history, set before the current Phanerozoic Eon. The Precambrian is so named because it preceded the Cambrian, the first period of the Phanerozoic eon, which is named after Cambria, the Latinised name for Wales, where rocks from this age were first studied. The Precambrian accounts for 88% of the Earth's geologic time.

Quartzite hard, non-foliated metamorphic rock which was originally pure quartz sandstone

Quartzite is a hard, non-foliated metamorphic rock which was originally pure quartz sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to grey, though quartzites often occur in various shades of pink and red due to varying amounts of iron oxide (Fe2O3). Other colors, such as yellow, green, blue and orange, are due to other minerals.


Within the valley there is the scenic Amethyst Lake and Moat Lake. It is a popular destination for back-country hikers, ski touring and horseback trips to the two outfitters camps on the shores of Amethyst Lake. There are also a number of backcountry campgrounds and an Alpine Club of Canada hut.

Hiking Walking as a hobby, sport, or leisure activity

Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping. It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.

The 1928 High Trip of the Sierra Club took place in this area. Among those who participated was photographer Ansel Adams and Sierra Club director William Colby.

Two trails into the valley are utilized by outfitters, skiers and hikers alike. There is the Portal Creek access, and the Astoria River access trails. Unbeknownst to many is the older and unused access via the Meadow Creek trail. This trail is considered impassable as it has not been maintained for decades. Some portions of the current trail are visible in Google Earth.


The valley is a frequent locale for grizzly bears, cougars and elk during the summer months as well as mountain caribou, and other Rocky Mountain Wildlife. The lakes are home to an introduced, and stable populations of rainbow trout and brook trout.

Rainbow trout fresh-water species of fish

The rainbow trout is a trout and species of salmonid native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is an anadromous (sea-run) form of the coastal rainbow trout(O. m. irideus) or Columbia River redband trout (O. m. gairdneri) that usually returns to fresh water to spawn after living two to three years in the ocean. Freshwater forms that have been introduced into the Great Lakes and migrate into tributaries to spawn are also called steelhead.

Brook trout species of fish

The brook trout is a species of freshwater fish in the char genus Salvelinus of the salmon family Salmonidae. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada, but has been introduced elsewhere in North America, as well as to Iceland, Europe, and Asia. In parts of its range, it is also known as the eastern brook trout, speckled trout, brook charr, squaretail, or mud trout, among others. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior, as well as an anadromous population in Maine, is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. The brook trout is the state fish of nine U.S. states: Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia, and the Provincial Fish of Nova Scotia in Canada.

Sunrise and cloud shadows on the Tonquin Valley ramparts Sunrise and cloud shadows on the Tonquin Valley Ramparts.jpg
Sunrise and cloud shadows on the Tonquin Valley ramparts

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Lake OHara alpine lake in British Columbia, Canada

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Dungeon Peak mountain in British Columbia, Canada

Dungeon Peak is a 3,129 meter mountain summit located on the shared border of Jasper National Park in Alberta, and Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. Dungeon Peak is part of The Ramparts in the Tonquin Valley. The descriptive name was applied in 1916 by Morrison P. Bridgland (1878-1948), a Dominion Land Surveyor who named many peaks in Jasper Park and the Canadian Rockies. The mountain's name was made official in 1935 by the Geographical Names Board of Canada.

Trophy Mountain mountain in Canada

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The Ramparts (Canada) mountain in Canada

The Ramparts are a mountain range in the Canadian Rockies. Part of the Park Ranges, they straddle the Continental Divide and lie partly within Jasper National Park in Alberta and Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia.

Franchère Peak mountain in British Columbia, Canada

Franchère Peak is a 2,805-metre (9,203-foot) mountain summit located in the Astoria River valley of Jasper National Park, in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, Canada. The mountain was named in 1917 for Gabriel Franchère (1786–1863), a French Canadian author and explorer of the Pacific Northwest who wrote the first account of an 1814 journey over Athabasca Pass. Franchère was a member of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company and sailed to Fort Astoria on the Tonquin, after which the nearby Tonquin Valley was named. The mountain's name was officially adopted on March 5, 1935 when approved by the Geographical Names Board of Canada. Its nearest higher peak is Aquila Mountain, 2.00 km (1.24 mi) to the north. Mount Edith Cavell is situated immediately south-southeast across the Astoria River valley.

Mount Erebus (Canada)

Mount Erebus is a 3,112-metre (10,210-foot) mountain summit located near one of the most beautiful mountain meccas in the world, the Tonquin Valley of Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. Mount Erebus is composed of sedimentary rock laid down during the Cambrian period, then was pushed east and over the top of younger rock during the Laramide orogeny. Its nearest higher peak is Mount Fraser, 4.0 km (2.5 mi) to the northwest. The Continental Divide lies 3 km (1.9 mi) to the west, Angle Peak is situated 4.5 km (2.8 mi) to the southeast, and The Ramparts are 5.0 km (3.1 mi) to the north. The mountain's north ridge terminates at Outpost Peak.

Mount Geikie (Canada) mountain in British Columbia, Canada

Mount Geikie, pronounced like "geeky", is a 3,298-metre (10,820-foot) mountain summit located in Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. Situated 28 km (17 mi) southwest of Jasper near the Tonquin Valley, Mount Geikie is the second highest peak of The Ramparts in the Canadian Rockies, one of the most beautiful mountain meccas in the world. Its nearest higher peak is Mount Fraser, 8.0 km (5.0 mi) to the southeast, and the Continental Divide lies 3.0 km (1.9 mi) to the east. Mount Geikie is composed of quartzite of the Cambrian period. This rock was pushed east and over the top of younger rock during the Laramide orogeny. The vertical wall of its north face is over 1,500-metre (4,900-foot) high, and has been compared to the other great north faces of the Canadian Rockies such as North Twin, Alberta, and Kitchener.


  1. Patton, Brian; Robinson, Bart (2007). Canadian Rockies Trail Guide (8th ed.). Summerthought Publishing. pp. 194–195. ISBN   0-9782375-0-1.

Further reading

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Avalanche Canada is a non-government, non-profit organization whose vision is to eliminate avalanche fatalities and injuries in Canada. Avalanche Canada is Canada's national public avalanche safety organization. Based in Revelstoke, British Columbia, the organization's aim is to minimize public avalanche risk in avalanche terrain. Avalanche Canada develops and delivers public avalanche forecasts and special public avalanche warnings for many of the mountainous regions of western Canada, free of charge. Avalanche Canada also provides curriculum and support to instructors of recreational Avalanche Skills Training courses, delivers public avalanche education awareness and education programs, encourages public avalanche research, provides curriculum to teachers and organizations, and acts as a central hub for avalanche information.

Coordinates: 52°43′05″N118°16′04″W / 52.71806°N 118.26778°W / 52.71806; -118.26778