Environmental change, economic development, and the constant demand for energy are profoundly affecting natural systems the world over. There are places where this is a good thing. New jobs, electricity, and new water sources can be great news for local populations. Unfortunately, they can also spell curtains for the singular landscapes and ecosystems that suddenly find themselves besieged. These are some of the beautiful places that may not be around for the next generation — places to visit before it's too late.
The Athabasca Glacier, Canada
Why: Alberta's iconic Athabasca Glacier is the most visited glacier in North America, thanks to a convenient location just off Highway 93 between Banff and Jasper. It dramatically spills down from the Columbia Ice Field, the largest ice field in the Canadian Rockies. Athabasca's visibility and popularity make its rapid recession all the more distressing. "Over the last 125 years, the Athabasca Glacier has been receding,"says Parks Canada's Christina Tricomi. It's losing half its volume and is currently receding at a rate of 6.6 to 9.8 feet a year. Climate Change Institute's Professor Dr. Paul Andrew Mayewski says, "I can see nothing in particular that would reverse that process."
What to do: Base yourself in Jasper National Park, one of Canada's oldest and largest parks, with more than 600 miles of trails and thousands of campsites. If you'd prefer to ditch the tent, stay at Fairmont Jasper. Kayak Maligne Lake, pair Jasper Brewing Company's Sutter Hill Pils, a classic German Pilsener brewed with Athabasca Glacier water, with the braised beef short ribs, and have a nightcap of shooting stars and the Aurora Borealis in the park's Dark Sky Preserve.
More info: jasper.travel
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