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Icefields Parkway

Lauren Bath

Icefields Parkway

Every winding curve of the Icefields Parkway fills the windshield with a new view. Around one bend stretches a vast turquoise lake bordered by lush pine forest. Around another soars a jaw-dropping vista of the Rocky Mountains, the jagged snow covered peaks dwarfing the glaciers in the valleys below. Your attention is drawn back to the road as you slow down to let a group of shaggy mountain goats amble across the highway and disappear into the forest. It’s the most staggeringly scenic road you’ve ever experienced. 
 

Snap images of glittering glaciers hanging from lofty peaks, or... glimpse a... Grizzly bear loping across a meadow.– Leslie Woit of The Telegraph

Regarded as one of the most stunning alpine drives in the world, travelling the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) is an unforgettable way to spend a day immersed in the Canadian Rockies. Arcing beneath towering mountains and alongside dozens of glaciers, the 227-kilometre (143-mile) highway connects the picturesque mountain towns of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper while paralleling the Continental Divide (the watershed that divides rivers flowing east from those flowing west). In addition to the extraordinary views, wildlife such as elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and the occasional bear or wolf are often spotted from the highway. 

The Icefields Parkway is best travelled by car although it’s not unusual to see intrepid travellers hiking or cycling the distance. The drive can be completed in three to five hours one way, but we guarantee you’ll want to spend at least a full day or two exploring the sights along its route. Tours are available, or you can drive your own vehicle to experience the Parkway at your own pace. 

Along the way, stop at the many postcard-worthy sights, such as Bow Lake, Crowfoot Mountain, Peyto Lake, Mistaya Canyon, and the Athabasca Glacier. Keep your hiking boots, lunch, and camera handy. Explore one of the many short hikes that are accessible from the highway for a picnic in the alpine or book with a local adventure tour operator to venture further afield. 

Recognized as one of National Geographic’s 'Drives of a Lifetime'. 

Take the exhilarating once in a lifetime opportunity to walk along the surface of the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains, and look down on the glacier from above while perched on the glass-bottomed Skywalk. See the Sightseeing & Tours page for more information. 

Directions

From Banff, drive north along the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). After approximately 40 minutes you will reach the town of Lake Louise. Continue past the town along the Trans-Canada Highway and follow signs for Highway 93N – the Icefields Parkway. Driving the full length of Icefields Parkway will take you to Jasper. The best months to drive the Parkway are May through September. The highway remains open in the winter, but pay attention to the road conditions and weather, ensure your vehicle has winter tires, and allow for more time to drive the highway’s length. 

Lodging

There is a handful of campgrounds, hostels, and lodges situated along the highway. Make sure you book well in advance as vacancies fill quickly during peak season, especially in some of the lodges.