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This incredibly scenic drive will no doubt be a highlight of your tour in the Canadian Rockies. It has been voted the World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Drive. You can drive the Icefields Parkway in either direction.
Along the way, we’ll point out the must-do stops of the drive, as well as places that you may want to explore if you have lots of time. Be amazed by the incredible mountains, brightly coloured lakes and glaciers that line the western side of the road.
The thundering waterfalls are amazing and your chances of spotting wildlife are excellent.
Many of the best best views and iconic stops only require to park and then a short walk to a viewpoint. If you have a time and are willing to walk further, some places have more vantage points and hidden views that are worth venturing to. And for much of the superb scenery, you don’t have to do anything more than look out the window as you drive by.
The Icefields Parkway is usually done one of two ways. Either drive the whole length between Lake Louise and Jasper as a one way trip. This is how you transition between the Jasper part of the of the Canadaian Rockies, and the Banff/Lake Louise section. Or, its also common to drive from Banff or Lake Louise up to the Icefields Centre, and then return, as a day trip.
There are many stories about important characters of the Rockies who shaped its past and future and were able to enjoy a rewarding lifestyle in this often difficult environment.
Lake Louise or Jasper. The Icefields Parkway is Hwy 93N.
Expect it to take 8 – 12 hours with time for sightseeing and a tour onto the Athabasca Glacier
The drive between Lake Louise and Jasper, one way is 233km (145 miles)
Allow 3 hours without stops in good driving conditions. It’s 233km (144 miles) one way between Lake Louise and Jasper. Add another 40 mins and 58km (36 miles) to drive from Banff to Lake Louise.
This is just a little too far and you won’t have enough time to enjoy Jasper.
As a day trip, it is recommended to go as far as the Icefield Centre at Athabasca Glacier. There you can take the tours onto the ice. Then turn around and drive back to Banff or Lake Louise. That is a full day of sightseeing.
The Icefield Parkway is Hwy 93 between Lake Louise and Jasper.
If you are driving from Banff, you will drive on Hwy 1 westbound for about 45 minutes before you reach the exit (just after Lake Louise turnoffs) and begin the Icefields Parkway.
It is recommended to make advanced reservations. Expect to arrive at the Columbia Icefield approx 4 hours after departing Banff and 2.5 – 3 hours from Jasper. Allow 2 hours if you want to complete both the (Snowcoach) Ice Explorer and Skywalk Tours (combined ticket). For the adventurous prebook a 3 or 6 hour Guided Icewalk.
Yes it is. It is recommended to use the Canadian Rockies tour as it will provide commentary all the way from Banff, Jasper or even from Yoho National Park, and seamlessly transition into the Icefields Parkway tour. The Canadian Rockies tour is the best value option for exploring throughout the Parks.