Ghost River

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The Ghost River area is one of the world’s finest ice climbing destinations. There is an abundance of routes at all grades, a wilderness setting, free camping, and rarely enough snow for any avalanche hazard. Sound too good to be true? Well, there is one catch, the drive. Driving in the Ghost is very much a part of the adventure, and too often becomes the only adventure, as you dig your vehicle out of a snowbank, chop it out of the icy river, or slide around trying to get up an icy hill. Improvements have been made to the roads in recent years, but snow drifts, icy roads, and sketchy river crossings can still prevent access at times, and a 4X4 truck with good clearance is recommended in all but the driest conditions.

Ghost River Driving Directions:

  • Drive to the intersection of the Bow Valley Trail (Hwy 1A) & the Forestry Trunk Road (#734). This is located near the town of Morley and is 60km from Canmore, or 13km from Cochrane, AB.
  • Turn West onto the Forestry Trunk Road and follow it for about 30 minutes (24km) until it turns to gravel. About 100m later, take the first left onto another gravel road. There is a sign about the Ghost Wilderness Area on the side of the road once you make the turn.
  • Follow the rough road for 17km and ignore any side roads. At this point you will be on top of “The Big Hill”. It is possible to walk or even ride your bike to many of the routes from here if you don’t think your vehicle will make it back up the hill. The Devils Gap (often called the South Ghost, but the true South Ghost is to the left) is the valley straight ahead, and the North Ghost is a valley far to the Right (North).
  • For the Devils Gap, Drop down the hill and figure out how to get down into the wash and up onto the raised road (dike) on the other side. Turn Left and follow the raised road a short ways and drop off the end of it. Turn Right and pick your way into the valley following tracks and your intuition until reaching the signed Banff National Park boundary. Park here.
  • For Orient Point drop off the raised road (dike) as for the Devil’s Gap. Continue South on a rough track for another kilometer until a steep cutline is visible leading up to the left. Park here.
  • For the North Ghost, drive down the Big Hill, drop into the wash, and follow a pretty good road North along the river, making a crossing to the West side of the river (usually dry) after a few minutes. Continue North until reaching the main North Ghost valley and a bridged river crossing. If you have never been to the North Ghost, you had better hope there are good tracks to follow! Park here.

Full Route Descriptions:

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