Stretching 144 miles through the Canadian Rockies, the Icefields Parkway is one of the most visually rewarding drives in the world. You’ll pass through ancient glaciers, vast valleys, mountain lakes, and two national parks on the journey from Banff to Jasper. While every mile of the trip is stunning, there are a few highlights you shouldn’t miss. Here’s our Icefields Parkway itinerary.
Lake Louise – Just west of Banff, stop at the sparkling Lake Louise. Here you can relax and enjoy the view, or take part in some of the best grizzly bear viewing in Canada.
Crowfoot Glacier – Farther north, on the south tip of Bow Lake, you’ll find a lookout point for the vast Crowfoot Glacier, which got its name because in the early 1900s it looked like it had three toe-like points, one of which has since melted away.
Peyto Lake – There are many lakes along the parkway you can stop at, but you only stop at one, let it be Peyto Lake, where the viewpoint sits at the highest elevation on the Parkway, providing sweeping views of the valley.
Saskatchewan Crossing – This is your halfway point between Banff and Jasper, and also your last chance to fill up on gas. The general store is a quaint lunch option as well.
Columbia Icefield – On the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks you can stop at the Glacier Discovery Center, where you can travel onto Athabasca Glacier via an Ice Explorer. The ice is more than thick enough to walk on (1,180 feet thick!), and your vantage point offers sparkling views of glaciers and mountain peaks. If you don’t want to walk on the glacier, you can stop at the glass-floored observation platform over the Sunwapta Valley instead.
Sunwapta Falls – These dueling falls drop 60 turbulent feet, and are best viewed in the spring or summer as the Athabasca Glacier melts and adds to the flow. Take the ten-minute walk to the lower falls to stretch your legs and take in the complete picture.
Athabasca Falls – You’ll hear the rushing water of Athabasca Falls before you reach the viewpoint, and once there the falls are so powerful you’ll undoubtedly get misted. While there are many taller falls in the world (Athabasca Falls drop about 75 feet), these are particularly stunning for their force and jagged mountain backdrop.
Jasper – You’ve made it to the end of the Icefields Parkway, and are rewarded with a picturesque mountain town surrounded by vast wilderness, rugged peaks, and bright blue lakes. Take a few days to explore Jasper National Park, or hop on the SkyTram for ride-by views of lakes, the Athabasca River, and six mountain ranges.