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17 Best Stops Along the Icefields Parkway In 2023


Alberta’s Icefields Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives in Canada. Also known as Highway 93 North, this scenic road stretches between Lake Louise and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. The Icefields Parkway Drive is known for its stunning views of glaciers, turquoise lakes, and towering mountains attracting visitors from around the world.

Where Is the Icefields Parkway?

stops along the Icefields Parkway video
Watch our video of the best stops along the Icefields Parkway on YouTube

Starting in Banff National Park and ending in Jasper National Park in Alberta Canada, the Icefields Parkway is only 293 km (182 miles) and can be done in a day, but it will be the busiest day you’ve ever had. So instead, make a base in Jasper or Banff, and take your time to explore all of these amazing stops on the Icefields Parkway.

To get to the Icefields Parkway, you’ll either be flying into Edmonton or Calgary Alberta. The nearest international airports are Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Edmonton International Airport (YEG). From either airport, you can rent a car and drive to the start of the Icefields Parkway.

By Car: If you’re coming from Calgary, take the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) west to Lake Louise. The Icefields Parkway begins just west of Lake Louise. If you’re coming from Edmonton, you would take Highway 16 west to Jasper, and the Icefields Parkway begins just south of Jasper.

By Bus: There are bus services that operate from Calgary and Edmonton to Banff and Jasper, respectively. From there, you could potentially join a tour or hire a car to drive the Icefields Parkway.

Always check road conditions before you leave. If you are driving in winter, make sure you have good winter tires as winter weather can make driving hazardous or even close the road entirely.

Parks Canada Pass

best stops along the icefields parkway canada parks pass

Remember that a valid park pass is required to travel on the Icefields Parkway, as it runs through national parkland. Also, the Parkway is in a remote area with limited services, so make sure your vehicle is in good condition, and it’s advisable to carry some emergency supplies such as food and water, and blankets in the winter.

When driving to Lake Louise, you will need to purchase an entrance pass from Parks Canada to the National Park which is $10 per person per day. If you are going to be spending a few days in the parks, it is worth it to buy a Parks Discovery Pass at the Parks Canada website that costs $139 for a family or $69 per person. This gives unlimited access to Canada’s national parks from coast to coast for 12 months! You can purchase this online here.

If you are just going for a day or two, you can buy your pass at the entrance on the highway when entering Banff National Park from Calgary. Okay, now that we have the logistics of getting to Banff ready, let’s start our Icefields Parkway road trip!

Stops along the Icefields Parkway Map

banff to jasper stops along the I icefields parkway map
Follow these stops along the Icefields Parkway map here.

The Icefields Parkway starts in Lake Louise, a small town in the middle of Banff National Park. It is 2 hours from the Calgary airport to Lake Louise. We always book a car rental to be ready when we land in Calgary starting our Alberta adventure immediately once we leave the airport.

Best Stops Along The Icefields Parkway Itinerary

things to do in jasper national park wildlife elk

This Alberta road trip is in order of stops from Lake Louise to the town of Jasper. The Icefields Parkway connects Banff and Jasper National Parks and it is a road trip through the Canadian Rockies that you’ll never forget. I hope this helps you when planning your Icefields Parkway adventure! Enjoy your journey – the Icefields Parkway is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world!

1. Lake Louise

stops along the Icefields Parkway lake louise j

Located within Banff National Park, Lake Louise is one of the most famous stops in all of Canada (let alone Alberta). The beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Louise sit below the imposing Victoria Glacier looming overhead. Located directly in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel, there are hiking trails to take in the view from all directions and you can canoe on Lake Louise. (A bucket list item for Canada travelers)

When taking your drive along the Icefields Parkway, we suggest leaving Lake Louise at sunrise so you can get to the iconic lakes along the drive in the morning before the crowds and while the reflections are best.

If you can spend a day or two in Banff National Park or Lake Louise, do it! There are so many things to see and do here. We recommend the Fairmont Chateau Louise or Deer Lodge for accommodations in Lake Louise.

You can read more information about Banff Lake Louise here:

crowfoot glacier stops along the Icefields Parkway

30 Minutes – 32 km (21 Miles) from Lake Louise or 2 hr/14 minutes – 196km from Jasper

The first stop you’ll come two out of Lake Louise is the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint. Crowfoot Glacier got its name from the fact that it is shaped like three claws of a crow. Located on Crowfoot Mountain, it looks over Bow Lake. Don’t take too long here at Crowfoot Glacier, because you are going to want to get to your next stop which is Bow Lake.

3. Bow Lake

blow lake stops along the icefields parkway alberta

30 minutes from Lake Louise 39 km (24 miles) or 194km 2hr and 14 min from Jasper

The next stop you come to is the spectacular viewpoint of Bow Lake. Just 30 minutes up Highway 93 from the Trans Canada Highway in Lake Louise, you’ll want to time your drive to arrive here when the sun is up. Bow Lake is located at the foot of the Bow Summit which reflects perfectly in the still waters of Bow Lake. There are trails along the shores of the lake for better views, so be sure to get out of your car and venture out to see it.

From Bow Lake, you can see Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Glacier both of which are the sources of the Bow River and is a beautiful stop with mountains and glaciers in the backdrop. The lake is right next to the parkway, and there is a parking area for Num-Ti-Jah Lodge where you can stop and explore the lake’s shore.

4. Bow Glacier Falls Hike

Bow Glacier Falls in Banff Canada

30 minutes from Lake Louise 39 km (24 miles) or 194km 2hr and 14 min from Jasper

This hike offers beautiful views of Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, and eventually the spectacular Bow Glacier Falls. The waterfall is fed by meltwater from the Bow Glacier, which is part of the Wapta Icefield.

Here are the details of the hike:

Trailhead: The trail starts from the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge parking lot on the Icefields Parkway, just by Bow Lake. Distance: The round-trip hike to Bow Glacier Falls is about 9 km (5.6 miles). Elevation Gain: The trail has a moderate elevation gain of about 155 meters (510 feet). Difficulty: The hike is generally considered moderate. The trail starts off easy around the lake, but it becomes rocky and uneven with a mild incline as you get closer to the falls. Good footwear is recommended. Estimated Time: It typically takes about 3-4 hours to complete the round trip, depending on your pace and how long you spend at the falls. Scenery: The trail provides views of the strikingly blue Bow Lake and the surrounding mountain peaks. The path then leads you toward the head of the lake and up toward Bow Glacier Falls. The final destination is a close-up view of the waterfall cascading down from the glacier above. On a sunny day, you might even see a rainbow in the mist of the waterfall.

5. Num Ti Jah Lodge

stops along the Icefields Parkway num ti jah

30 minutes from Lake Louise 39 km (24 miles) or 194km 2hr and 14 min from Jasper

Located directly at Bow Lake, this historic lodge is a good place to spend the nigh if you want to really spend time photographing Bow Lake in the morning or evening. The historic lodge dates back to the 1920s. It’s a rustic experience and the dining room is filled with old taxidermy heads of wildlife in the Elk Lodge. Choose it for an interesting stay in Alberta and an early start on the Icefields Parkway.

Check out the accommodations here. See our choices for where to stay in Banff here.

6. Peyto Lake

stops along the Icefields Parkway peyto lake alberta

44 km (27 miles) from Lake Louise or 190 km – 2hrs and 14 min from Jasper

Peyto Lake is the most popular lake stop along the Icefields Parkway. From the parking lot, hike up to the Peyto Lake Viewpoint and up to the Bow Summit. At 2,088 meters (6,800 feet) for the best views of the vivid turquoise colours of this glacier lake. Cool fact, this is the highest elevation on the drive and it’s the highest elevation crossed by a public road in Canada. (it really doesn’t feel that high when you are there though.

7. Mistaya Canyon

stops along the icefields parkway Mistaya Canyon

75 km from Lake Louise or 158 km and 1hr 53min from Jasper

Mistaya Canyon is a beautiful geological formation along the Icefields Parkway, close to Saskatchewan River Crossing in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The Canyon has been carved out over thousands of years by the Mistaya River, and the water flow has created a unique, deep canyon with smooth, swirling rock walls.

The hike to Mistaya Canyon is relatively short and quite easy, making it a popular stop for those traveling along the Parkway. Here are some details about the hike:

Trailhead: The trailhead to Mistaya Canyon is conveniently located off the Icefields Parkway. There’s a parking lot from where the trail begins. Distance and Difficulty: The hike is about 0.5 km (0.3 miles) each way, or 1 km (0.6 miles) round trip, with a mild descent into the canyon. It’s rated as easy, making it accessible for most people. Time: The entire walk can be completed in about 30-45 minutes, but you may want to spend additional time for photos or just to enjoy the view. Features: The trail leads through a forest before opening up to the canyon. The canyon itself is narrow and deep, with the fast-moving Mistaya River running through it. There’s a bridge that crosses the canyon, offering an excellent viewpoint.

8. Saskatchewan River Crossing

stops along the Icefields Parkway saskatchewan river crossing alberta

79 km from Lake Louise or 153 km and 1hr 49min from Jasper

After viewing the lake, our next place to see is the Saskatchewan River Crossing. This is a significant stop not only for its beautiful view, but it is also where the North Saskatchewan River, Mistaya River and the Howse Rivers meet. If you need to go to the bathroom, this is the place to do it as there are facilities here with a restaurant and gas station.

9. Weeping Wall

stops along the icefields parkway weeping wall

106 km from Lake Louise or 125 km and 90 minutes from Jasper

The Weeping Wall is most impressive in the winter when the waterfalls are frozen. It is also a popular place (obviously) for ice climbing. Stop here to see this 100-meter-high (330 feet) rock cliff that is known for its waterfalls that resemble tears as they cascade down the mountain. Naturally, the main waterfall is called, Teardrop.

10. Big Bend Peak

big hill bend stops along the Icefields Parkway alberta

115 km from Lake Louise or 119 km and 1hr 25 minutes from Jasper

You can’t miss our next stop. When you look out your window, you are going to want to get out of the car for this view! This turn along the drive has a pull-off where you can get out and look at the vast valley surrounded by jagged peaks. It is our favourite viewpoint on the Icefields Parkway.

11. Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre

columbia icefield visitors centre stops along the Icefields Parkway

128 km from Lake Louise or 104 km and 1hr and 16 min from Jasper

This is the stop you’ve all been waiting for! Columbia Icefield is the main attraction on the Icefields Parkway. The visitors center is located where Banff National Park and Jasper National Park meet. In the Visitor Center, you can go to the museum, grab some lunch (food is expensive though so be prepared), and take in the views of the Icefield and Athabasca Glacier. You can book tours here as well.

Tours fill up quickly, so you may want to book in advance, but you can get on them (if you are lucky at the last minute.

12. Athabasca Glacier

athabasca glacier stops along the Icefields Parkway alberta

128 km from Lake Louise or 104 km and 1hr and 16 min from Jasper

One of the best adventures we ever had was heading out onto the Athabasca Glacier. You can book a snowcat tour to take you out to see the crevasses and ice caves. The Icefields are the largest nonpolar ice fields in the world, and when you are out on the Athabasca Glacier, you really feel how massive it is.

stops along the Icefields Parkway athabasca glacier

You can walk out on some trails from the visitor center for a closer view of the Athabasca Glacier but don’t ever venture out on it alone without a guide. This is the scariest glacier we’ve ever been on and the ice moves regularly. If you don’t have expert experience, you could put yourself in danger. Looking into a crevasse even while on a tour with an expert guide was scary.

Book this Columbia Icefield Half Day Tour here from Jasper. It includes transportation from Jasper, photo stops at Athabasca Falls and Stutfield Glacier, an Ice Cat tour of the Athabasca Glacier, and the Icefield Skywalk with lunch!

13. Glacier Skywalk

stops along the Icefields Parkway glacier skywalk alberta banff to jasper

128 km from Lake Louise or 104 km and 1hr and 16 min from Jasper

I’ll admit, I thought the glacier Skywalk was going to be a bit cheesy, but it was fantastic! It’s the newest attraction on the Icefields Parkway where a glass floor juts out over the Sunwapta Valley. It’s high at 280 meters (918 feet) above the valley, so people afraid of heights might be a little nervous. The 1km walkway has some interpretive stops along the way and guides are available to answer your questions, but the piece de resistance is the glass walkway offering spectacular views of the valley.

You can book tickets directly at the Visitors Centre and buses leave from there. Book a whitewater rafting tour of the Sunwapta River through Gorgeous scenery and class 3 rapids.

14. Sunwapta Falls

stops along the Icefields Parkway sunwapta falls jasper

177 km from Lake Louse or 56km and 44 minutes from Jasper

Congratulations, you have now entered Jasper National Park. Another Canadian treasure. Since you’ve had a lot of adventures at the Glacier Skywalk and visitor’s center you have a bit of time to relax on your drive. Get a cappuccino to go before leaving the visitor’s center to enjoy along the way before you stop at the next beautiful viewpoint.

Sunwapta Falls has walking trails and a bridge to see the 18 meters (60-foot) cascade from different viewpoints. It’s an impressive and loud waterfall indeed! Read more: 14 Best Hikes in Jasper National Park – Alberta Canada

15. Athabasca Falls

stops along the Icefields Parkway athabasca falls jasper

200 km from Lake Louise or 32km and 29 minutes from Jasper

Athabasca Falls is another gorgeous view and is your last stop on the Icefields Parkway before reaching the town of Jasper. Like many of the stops on the parkway, there are walking trails to offer different viewpoints. The massive volume of water from the Athabasca River is forced through a narrow gorge creating an immense flow of water over the 23-meter (75 feet) waterfalls. Athabasca Falls is impressive indeed.

16. Town of Jasper

stops along the icefields parkway jasper

The last stop on Icefields Parkway is the town of Jasper. This is a superb place to make a home base for a couple of days. Jasper National Park has an abundance of things to do. So, book a room at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and stay awhile. See our Complete Guide to all the Things to do in Jasper.

17. Tips for Driving the Icefields Parkway

stops along the Icefields Parkway tips for driving from Banff to Jasper

It is best to drive the Icefields Parkway in the summer months. Winter driving can be treacherous and trails are not maintained.

There is only one gas station on the Icefields Parkway at the Saskatchewan River Crossing so make sure you fill up before leaving Lake Louise or Jasper.

The Icefields Parkway Visitors Centre is Close from late October to mid-April. Meaning, there are no glacier tours or Glacier Skywalk.

The Icefield Parkway can be driven from Lake Louise to Jasper in 3 hours, a straight shot. But it can take a couple of days to explore everything listed above. Especially if you are going to book an Athabasca Glacier tour and the Glacier Skywalk visit.

Where to Stay on the Icefields Parkway

where to stay along the icefields parkway

There are a few places to stay on the Icefields Parkway. It is limited and you can easily do day trips from Banff and Jasper. Also, resorts are closed for the winter with them opening at various times between March and May. If you want to stay right in the thick of things to make the most out of exploring, here are the hotels located directly on the Icefields Parkway.

Camping on the Icefields Parkway

canadian rockies stops along the Icefields parkway alberta

There are 11 Campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway. Rates start at $16 per day. Check with Banff National Park and Jasper National Park for details on what campgrounds are open.

Camping along the Icefields Parkway is on a first come first serve basis so if you want to camp, we recommend getting to your campground of choice at 3 pm sharp. (that is the earliest check-in). Check-out is 11 am.

The closest camping to Lake Louise on the Glacier Parkway is Mosquito Creek Campground in Banff National Park.

The closest campgrounds to Jasper are Wapiti Campground and Whistlers Campground. Both are just a few km from the town of Jasper.

What is the Best Time to Drive the Icefields Parkway

stops along the icefields parkway best time to drive

The best time to drive the Icefields Parkway is typically during the summer months (June through September). The weather during these months is usually mild, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59-77 Fahrenheit). It’s also when the parks’ facilities, like visitor centers and campgrounds, are fully operational.

However, keep in mind that summer is also the busiest time of year for tourism, so you can expect more traffic and more people at the popular sites along the parkway.

If you enjoy winter scenery and don’t mind colder weather, the Icefields Parkway can also be beautiful in the winter months (December through February), but it’s crucial to be prepared for winter driving conditions and possible road closures due to heavy snowfall. Note that many facilities will be closed or have reduced hours during the winter.

If you don’t have winter driving experience, we don’t recommend driving the Icefields Parkway. It can be dangerous. If you decide to drive the icefields parkway in the winter, be sure to have snow tires.

In any season, it’s important to check the road conditions and weather forecast before your trip. Always have a full tank of gas before you start (as there are long stretches without gas stations), and carry a map since cell service can be spotty. Remember to respect the wildlife and keep the park clean for future visitors.

How Long Does it Take to Drive the Icefields Parkway?

stops along the icefields parkway how long does it take

The entire Icefields Parkway stretches 232 kilometers (144 miles) between Lake Louise and Jasper. You can technically drive the entire icefields parkway in about 3 to 4 hours non-stop, however, this scenic route offers such breathtaking views and unique stops that simply driving straight through would mean missing out on the full experience.

To fully appreciate the natural beauty and take advantage of the various scenic spots, hiking trails, and picnic areas along the route, it’s recommended to dedicate a full day to this drive. Some people even stretch it over multiple days to have more time for hiking, photography, wildlife viewing, or just to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Factors such as weather, road conditions, traffic (especially during peak tourist season), and personal pace can affect how long the drive takes.

Here are some notable attractions along the parkway that you might want to stop and see:

Peyto Lake: Known for its intense turquoise color, this lake is a must-see. A short hike will take you to a popular viewpoint. Columbia Icefield: One of the largest accumulations of ice south of the Arctic Circle. Here, you can visit the Athabasca glacier discovery center and take a tour of the glacier itself. Athabasca Falls: Just off the parkway, this powerful, picturesque waterfall is worth a visit.

Remember, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey as well. Taking your time to immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings along the Icefields Parkway will make for an unforgettable road trip.

Should I rent a Car to Drive Along the Icefields Parkway?

icefields parkway car rental

If you don’t have your own car, you should definitely rent a car to drive along the Icefields Parkway. There are bus tours that can take you out to see the Athabasca Glacier and SkyWalk, but the Icefields Parkway is a drive that should be done slowly and on your own. There are so many places to stop for scenic views of the magnificent Canadian Rockies and hiking trails out to view its pristine turquoise lakes that you’ll be happy for the wheels.

You can check rental car prices at CarRentals.com

Where to Fill Up Along the Icefields Parkway

stops along the Icefields Parkway jasper alberta

Fueling stations along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 North) are relatively sparse due to its location through the heart of the wilderness in the Canadian Rockies, so it’s essential to plan ahead. Here’s where you can find gas along or near the route:

Lake Louise: This is the southern starting point of the Icefields Parkway, and there’s a gas station here. It’s wise to fill up your tank before you start the drive. Saskatchewan River Crossing: Approximately halfway along the parkway, you will find a gas station at the Saskatchewan River Crossing. Note that this gas station is typically only open from April to October, and the prices can be significantly higher than elsewhere due to its remote location. Jasper: At the northern end of the Icefields Parkway, Jasper is a fully serviced town with multiple gas stations. This is the last place to fill up if you’re heading south or the first if you’re starting from the north.

Given the long stretches without services, it’s strongly recommended to start your journey with a full tank of gas and refuel at Saskatchewan River Crossing if needed, particularly if you’re planning on doing any side trips or it’s outside of the summer months when services are more limited. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, these were the only fueling points directly on or near the parkway but always check for the most current information before your trip.

Is there Cell Service on the Icefields Parkway

icefields parkway cell coverage

Cellular service along the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada is quite limited due to the remote nature of the region. There are substantial stretches of the parkway with no cell phone coverage, particularly in the middle sections between Lake Louise and Jasper.

You will get cell service in and around the towns at either end of the Parkway (Lake Louise and Jasper) and possibly near the Saskatchewan River Crossing and the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. However, even these areas can have spotty or weak signals, and coverage may vary depending on your service provider. The Discovery Center has WiFi.

Because of this, it’s important to be prepared for stretches of your journey where you won’t have cell service:

Plan your route and stops in advance. Download any maps, trail guides, or other information you might need ahead of time. Inform someone of your plans before you go. Carry a traditional paper map as a backup. If you plan on hiking, consider carrying a satellite-based emergency communication device.

Remember, emergency roadside phones are located at various intervals along the Icefields Parkway for use in case of a breakdown or emergency. Always check the most current information about services and conditions from Parks Canada before you set out on your journey.

Where to Eat on the Icefields Parkway

stops along the icefields parkway where to eat

Num Ti Jah Lodge has a dining room and cafe. The Crossing has a general store to pick up snacks. There’s also the Parkway Pub offering views of  Mt. Sarbach and Mt. Murchison and you can grab lunch at the Crossing Café. Saskatchewan River Crossing: There’s a restaurant at The Crossing Resort, which is open seasonally (typically April through October). offer a range of meals, and there’s also a convenience store where you can pick up snacks or picnic supplies. The Saskatchewan River Crossing closes for the winter. Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre: The Discovery Centre has a dining room and a cafeteria, which provide a range of meal options. However, it’s also seasonal and typically operates from April through October. Num-Ti-Jah Lodge: This historic lodge near Bow Lake has a dining room that offers meals, typically open from May to October. Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge: Located closer to the Jasper end of the Parkway, this lodge has a restaurant and a fast food outlet. The Icefields Parkway also has several picnic areas, if you prefer to bring your own food. This can be a good option as it gives you flexibility and you can enjoy your meal surrounded by stunning views. Just remember to follow all park rules and guidelines for waste disposal to protect the environment.

What Wildlife Will I see along the Icefields Parkway?

Things to do in Jasper National Park Big Horned Sheep

The Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada, cuts through some of the most stunning wilderness in the Canadian Rockies, so there’s a good chance you might see various species of wildlife during your trip. However, sightings can never be guaranteed and depend on factors such as the season, weather, and time of day. Here are some animals you might encounter:

Bears: Both black bears and grizzly bears live in this region. They are more commonly seen in the spring and early summer, often on the roadside eating the fresh green vegetation. Remember to keep a safe distance, never feed them, and do not get out of your car to take photos. Elk: Elk are common in the region, especially in the meadows and grasslands. Males with their large antlers are an impressive sight, particularly in the fall during the rut (mating season). Big Horn Sheep & Mountain Goats: Both bighorn sheep and mountain goats can often be seen along the Parkway, sometimes even on the road itself. Look for them on rocky slopes and near the cliffs. Moose: Moose are less commonly seen than some other animals, but you might get lucky, particularly in marshy areas or near water bodies. Wolves, Coyotes, and Foxes: These predators are more elusive, but they do live in the area. Early morning or late evening are the best times to potentially spot them. Birds: Many species of birds can be seen, including eagles, hawks, and various songbirds. Near water bodies, you might see waterfowl like ducks, geese, and loons. Small Mammals: Keep an eye out for animals like squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and pikas in the rocky areas.

And these are the most amazing stops on your road trip from Banff to Jasper. You can also drive from Jasper to Banff, (we’ve done both!) and it is amazing to see the views from each end of the Icefields Parkway.

Plan your Next Trip to Alberta With These Resources



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