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Review: Rocks, Ridges, and Rivers by Dale Leckie



Reviewed by Megan Kopp

In Rocks, Ridges, and Rivers: Geological Wonders of Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Parksthe story of the Rockies, its rivers and valleys, glaciers and hot springs, caves and karst, mountain building and erosion unfolds.  

Take a drive with me, from Canmore to Jasper, through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. I’ll pack a gourmet lunch, download a few roadworthy tunes and pull over at all the best stops with a copy of Dale Leckie’s roadside tour guide – Rocks, Ridge, and Rivers – for an insider’s take on the geology of this amazing landscape.

Dale Leckie is an award-winning geologist with a passion for sharing his knowledge. He leads the reader on a journey of discovery full of geological wisdom and nuggets of historical interest. Stand and witness the folds and faults of Cascade Mountain, or simply appreciate the Stoney name given to the mountain by James Hector in 1858, Minihapa, or “Where the Water Falls”. Look at Crowfoot Glacier with the knowledge that one of the toes of the crow’s foot broke off in the 1930s and has since melted away. Watch the goats on Mount Kerkeslin and realize that it’s the phosphorous, sodium and sulphur they crave in this multi-mineral lick.

Rocks, Ridge, and Rivers: Geological Wonders of Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Park is a unique, 215-page guidebook that begins just east of Canmore along the TransCanada Highway, travels through Banff and up the Icefields Parkway north to Jasper National Park. From anticlines to sand dunes to trilobites, this book offers insight into the Rockies we see today. Each of the 50 geological experiences included in the book has a map, photos and detailed directions for the best viewing location. Scenes painted by artist Heather Pant add dynamic interest to many of the descriptions. While a few of the experiences require short walks on easy paths, most are roadside accessible.

Make no mistake, this is a guidebook about the geology of our mountain environment. The terminology can be a little daunting for the layperson at times – e.g. “… in a valley controlled by the Pyramid Thrust, which brings Neoproterozoic to Cambrian quartzite, conglomerate, and slate to the surface in the west above Paleozoic limestone and shale to the east.” Fortunately, there is an excellent introduction at the front of the book and glossaries for terms and stratigraphy at the back. Leckie is a guide with years of experience and he knows how to best present the information. Heavy geo-terms are balanced by the opportunity to stand in front of stunning rock faces and features and appreciate their origins. A whole new world opens up when you start to consider things, such as the “spectacular and unique cave drainage system at the bottom of Medicine Lake.”

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s load up the car, grab a copy of Rocks, Ridge, and Rivers: Geological Wonders of Banff, Yoho, and Jasper National Park and start exploring the geological wonders of the Canadian Rockies.

Megan Kopp is a freelance writer and blogger who writes regularly about her two favourite things: outdoor adventure and travel.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.