The Icefields Parkway, a 232-kilometre highway that runs through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, passes some of Canada’s most spectacular scenery. The drive will take you through two national parks, where you’ll discover vast glaciers and mirror-like mountain lakes, surrounded by rugged peaks and sweeping valleys.
Various operators offer bus tours and day trips along this route, but you may prefer to hire a car so you can spend as long as you want admiring the stunning sights. You can even stop overnight at the campsites and hostels along the way. Make sure you’re well prepared – hiking boots, binoculars and a camera should not be forgotten.
Heading out from the town of Jasper, you’ll first travel through Jasper National Park, a World Heritage Site. Stop off at the thunderous Athabasca Falls or the Sunwapta Falls for amazing photo opportunities.
A few kilometres before the half-way point, you’ll reach the frozen landscape of the Columbia Icefield. Don’t miss the opportunity to tour the vast glaciers, including the 6-kilometre long Athabasca Glacier.
After you cross the boundary from Jasper National Park into Banff National Park, you’ll encounter the Saskatchewan River Crossing, where the North Saskatchewan, Howse and Mistaya rivers collide. This awe-inspiring location owes its name to the 19th-century fur traders who used this spot to cross the water on their journey to British Columbia.
Further along the Parkway, you’ll reach Bow Summit. At 2,088 metres above sea level, this is the highest point on this journey. It is also offers panoramic views across the pristine Peyto Lake. Over the summer, natural sediment washes into the water, giving the lake a beautiful turquoise hue.
Once you arrive at the end of the Parkway, make time to explore Banff and the surrounding area. Lake Louise is a stunning location for hiking and kayaking in the summer, or skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
Check the official website prior to setting out, as you may need permits to access the Parkway. Also, ensure that you have the most up-to-date weather forecast. Snow is common throughout the year, so you may require snow chains.
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Situated in Jasper National Park South Entrance, this hotel is steps from Jasper National Park and Icefields Parkway. Athabasca Glacier and Tangle Falls are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Situated in Rampart Creek, this hostel is steps from Jasper National Park and Icefields Parkway.
Situated in a national park, this lodge is steps from Jasper National Park and Icefields Parkway. Athabasca Glacier and Athabasca Falls are also within 32 mi (52 km).
Situated in the mountains, this hotel is 2.1 mi (3.3 km) from Jasper National Park.
Conveniently located near the ski slopes, this Jasper resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Jasper National Park, Icefields Parkway, and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course. Maligne Lake is 2.8 mi (4.5 km) away.
Situated in a national park, this hotel is steps from Icefields Parkway and Jasper National Park. Patricia Lake and Maligne Lake are also within 6 mi (10 km). Jasper Station is 13 minutes by foot.
Located near the slopes, this Jasper hotel is in the mountains and within 1 mi (2 km) of Jasper National Park, Icefields Parkway, and Jasper Activity Centre. Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives and Jasper Municipal Library are also within 15 minutes. Jasper Station is 14 minutes by foot.
Situated in Jasper, this spa hotel is steps from Jasper National Park and Icefields Parkway. Jasper Activity Centre and Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives are also within 15 minutes. Jasper Station is 15 minutes by foot.