Are you looking for the one of the best Canadian road trips? Well look no further, the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada is one of the most sought after drives and is great no matter which season you visit (pending road conditions). As road trips go, this one is fairly short, but there is a lot to see and do along the way! It also gets you between Banff and Jasper, and you get to explore the Canadian Rocky Mountains!
Now, being from Alberta I can’t pass up an opportunity to drive up (or down) the Icefields Parkway. Winter, Summer, Spring, Autumn, it doesn’t matter the season this drive is stunning. I sometimes have a hard time concentrating on the road as I unknowingly take in the views! But lately I’ve been spending more time in the passenger seat, and less actually driving, so I can tell you the amazing places you have to see on Canada’s best road trip: the Icefields Parkway.
Getting to the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93, runs directly through the center of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site. Seriously though, you could stop every two minutes to take a picture on this drive, but then the 232 km journey would take days!
This highway/road trip is one of the best in Canada and I love driving it just for the scenery. To start this road trip, you either need to be in Banff (1 hour from Calgary) or Jasper (4 hours from Edmonton). From there, you need a car, some supplies and a full tank of gas!
The Icefields Parkway Itinerary From Jasper
I am always starting this road trip from Jasper, so here are the must stops if you are headed south! If you start in Jasper here are the order of the MUST STOPS on the Icefields Parkway:
Pulling into the Athabasca Falls parking lot you’ll either struggle to find a spot (summer) or have the whole place to yourself (winter). Walking down the trail you will slowly come across the falls and see the beauty of them perfect framed under the magnificent mountain peaks.
The next waterfalls along the Icefields Parkway are even more intense than Athabasca Falls and creates a huge chasm into the rock around them. I personally love Sunwapta Falls and always pay them a visit. Equally as beautiful at Athabasca Falls, but definitely more underrated.
Athabasca Glacier has been receding steadily since the last ice age. Hike (or snowshoe) your way through the Columbia Icefields where you’ll be surrounded by glaciers. If you walk either of the two hikes available on the left side of the Icefields Parkway you’ll get stunning views of Athabasca Glacier. My recommendation is to do the Toe of the Glacier hike. Another Must See!
Note: The Discovery Center is always packed and unnecessary in my opinion, so grab your shoes and follow the trails across from it. Experience the glacier for yourself, but obey the marked signs because there are hidden crevices if you venture too far.
The Viewpoint at the Big Bend: Cirrus Mountain
This is not a recommended spot to stop in the winter as it is in an avalanche zone and on the edge of a cliff. However, in the summer, spring and autumn as you head downwards into the valley there are two viewpoints on the edge of the cliff from which you can see Cirrus Mountain.
Also a campground. The stop off gives you a great view of the blue lakes and White Pyramid Mountain.
Just before you get to Lake Louise you drive over the highest point of the Icefields Parkway which is Bow Summit. If you head up the turn off and park there are multiple hikes that you can take to the Peyto Lake lookout.
Lake Louise is technically just off of the Icefields Parkway, but it is making this list just because! It’s amazing, whether you start or end here and a must see if you are exploring Banff National Park!
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