It has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world, Banff to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway.
While the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) is open year round, frequent road closures are common in the Winter due to snow and Winter conditions. The following outline for this drive and scenic spots along the way is primarily for a Summer trip.
Use the following as a guide as you make your way from one Canadian Rockies treasure to another, Banff to Jasper!
Leave Banff on Highway 1 (Trans-Canada) heading West.
About 15 minutes out of Banff look for the Castle Mountain Viewpoint on the right.
• you can stop here, there are outdoor bathroom facilities and it is a good spot to take photos
Continue on from the Castle Mountain Viewpoint to Lake Louise, about 25 minutes.
• as you exit Highway 1 to the right at Lake Louise you can turn right again and drive up to the Lake Louise Ski Area
• they run a Summer sightseeing operation that takes you halfway up the front of the mountain
• to the left off of Highway 1 you will come to the Lake Louise Village
• in the village there is a small bakery, grocery store, coffee shop and sports shop
• you should fill up on gas if you didn’t fill up in Banff, but it’s a bit pricier than Banff
Keep driving West on Highway 1 from Lake Louise and take Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) North towards Jasper.
About 30 minutes from the start of Highway 93 you will come to the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint on the left.
A few minutes North of Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint you will come to Bow Lake.
• there are 2 pull offs on the left
• after that you can take a left off of the Parkway to Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
• before you get to the lodge there is public parking with washrooms and short walking trails and a little souvenir store
• Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is private, but you can have lunch there without having to stay there
• it is only open in the Summer, but has good food at resort prices
5 minutes from Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is Peyto Lake.
• take a left and a short drive takes you to public parking where there is a short walk (10 minutes) that takes you to the viewpoint overlooking the lake and Mistaya Valley
Keep driving North about 15 minutes to the Saskatchewan River crossing.
• here you will find gas, food, washrooms, souvenirs, good fried chicken and overnight rooms available (hotel)
• all of the above services are only available in the Summer, everything is closed in the Winter
Keep driving about 20 minutes to the Weeping Wall on the right.
• there is a pullout on the left with washrooms
Another 10 minutes of driving will bring you to the top of a big hill where you can look down the valley.
From here it is about 10 minutes to the Icefields Centre.
• here you can take the Snowcoach Tour onto the Icefields (about 1.5 hours)
• the Icefields Centre has a hotel, store, food, washrooms and information centre
About 5 minutes will bring you to Tangle Falls on the right with a pullout on the left with washrooms.
In about 45 minutes take a left at Sunwapta Falls.
• here there is a cafeteria, accommodation and washrooms
• you have to drive down the road about 5 minutes to get to the Falls
Back on Parkway 93, 20 Minutes will bring you to Athabasca Falls.
• turn left with parking by taking another left (follow the signs)
• you may want to give yourself about a half hour to see
From here it is about 25 minutes to Jasper.
This can all be done in one day if you are staying in Jasper that night. It is probably too long to go and return to Banff or Lake Louise the same day.
When in Jasper stay at the Mount Robson Inn!