The Icefields Parkway (also known as Highway 93 North) connects the towns of Jasper and Banff. This 232 km drive is one of the most scenic routes in the world.
You’ll find a downloadable map behind this link.
During your drive you pass waterfalls, glaciers, Rocky Mountain peaks, the Columbia Icefield,…
We started our journey in Jasper and made a few stops along the way. Although not as many as we would have liked. Around 3 p.m. we ended up in a traffic jam caused by a serious accident. We stood still for hours. This gives me with one more excellent excuse to return to Canada.
Our stops were:
You can actually visit two falls from the parking lot: the Sunwapta Falls (like we did) and the Lower Sunwapta falls. The latter are a bit further away, but it is an easy hike.
The Sunwapta Falls are only 18 m high, but the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is impressive. The falls are fed by meltwater from the Athabasca glacier.
Sunwapta means “turbulent water”. The water us squeezed into a narrow gorge and thus very turbulent.
Our next stop was the Icefield Centre. We had planned to visit the Columbia Icefield. As shown in the photo, visibility was nil, so we decided to have lunch instead.
The visitor Center houses a small museum dedicated to the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield.
On leaving the parking lot, we were soon stuck in the already mentioned traffic jam. We still managed to visit one viewpoint: Hector Lake
Hector Lake is a glacial lake on the Bow River in Banff National Park. It is the the largest natural lake in the park. It is located about 30 km north of Lake Louise.
Hector Lake was named after James Hector, one of the members of the Palliser Expedition.
There are a lot more interesting and beautiful sites to visit and things to do along the highway. You can go wildlife viewing, fishing, canoeing,… For those of you who like to hike: you can choose between a variety of trails.
Moreover the Icefields Parkway is a photographer’s heaven.
Fuel up in Jasper or Lake Louise, because there are no gas stations along the route. And one more warning: there is no cell phone reception either.
Eating and accomodation
There are no hotels along the highway. Accommodation is available in Jasper and Lake Louise.
There is a restaurant at the Icefield centre. Picnic areas can be found at a number of stops. Don’t forget to buy lunch in Jasper or Lake Louise
Keep in mind that during Winter the road and the visitor center might be closed.
More information about this route is available here.
Please visit this link for more photos of my road-trip.
Disclaimer: I own the copyright to all photos in this post.