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 Canadian Rockies, and the Banff/Lake Louise section. Or, it’s also common to drive from Banff or Lake Louise up to the Icefield 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)
The Icefields Parkway is an incredibly scenic drive that will no doubt be a highlight of your tour in the Canadian Rockies. Connecting Banff and Lake Louise to Jasper, this drive has been voted the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Drive’ and passes by countless glacier-fed lakes, waterfalls, mountain peaks and glaciers.
The Icefields Parkway is Highway 93 between Lake Louise and Jasper.
If you are driving from Banff, you will drive on Highway 1 westbound for about 45 minutes before you reach the exit (just after Lake Louise turnoffs) and begin the Icefields Parkway.
It’s 233km (144 miles) one way between Lake Louise and Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, and then add another 40 mins and 58km (36 miles) to drive from Banff to Lake Louise.
Allow 3 hours to drive the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper without stops in good driving conditions. Expect the drive to take 8 – 12 hours with time for sightseeing and a tour onto the Athabasca Glacier.
This is just a little too far to drive in one day, and you won’t have enough time to enjoy Jasper.
As a day trip from Banff, it is recommended to go as far as the Icefield Centre at the Athabasca Glacier. There you can take the tours onto the ice. Then, turn around and drive back to Banff or Lake Louise. That will be a full day of sightseeing with plenty of time to stop and sightsee along the way.
Located around halfway between Jasper and Banff on the Icefields Parkway, the Athabasca Glacier is one of the route highlights and one of the most accessible glaciers in the world.
You can take in the views from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre or book a Columbia Icefield Adventure Tour which will take you up onto the glacier on an Ice Explorer, a giant all-terrain vehicle, and includes access to the glass bottomed SkyWalk. You’ll need to allow at least 3 hours for the tour, or if you’re short on time you can book the SkyWalk by itself, and pre-book in peak summer dates to save lining up.
The Icefields Parkway is open year round, but in winter snow tires are mandatory and sometimes the road is closed for avalanche closures. Some of the attractions along the Icefields Parkway close in winter, such as the Icefields Center.