23 BEAUTIFUL Stops on the Icefields Parkway (2023 Guide)

The Icefields Parkway, or Hwy 93, is a scenic drive between Banff and Jasper that has visitors flocking from around the world to see it. Some people call it the Jasper Icefields, and some just refer to it as “the Parkway,” regardless it’s where one can come to enjoy a drive-in nature, surrounded by waterfalls, rock spires, ancient glaciers, and turquoise lakes.

I’ve yet to drive down a road as beautiful as the Icefields Parkway. However, there are some things to know before you set out to drive the Icefields Parkway. This is no ordinary road, after all.

Driving from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway

What is the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield Parkway Road Side

The Icefields Parkway has been deemed one of the most beautiful road trips in the entire world, and for good reason. Not only are you in the Canadian Rockies, but each and every turn on this road is met with mountains, icefields, waterfalls, and tons of glorious stop-offs that will have any visitor beaming with delight. We’ve driven the Icefields Parkway many times, and it honestly never gets old.

The Icefields Parkway is a 232 km stretch of double-lane highway taking you along the Continental Divide. It runs from Lake Louise in Banff to the Town of Jasper, which are both fantastic places in themselves. You can drive the parkway from Jasper to Banff, and from Banff to Jasper.

How Long Does it Take to Drive the Icefields Parkway?

Icefields Parkway From Parker Ridge

The absolute fastest you could drive the entire Icefields Parkway is three hours. Though, just driving straight from Lake Louise to Jasper in one sitting without enjoying all there is to offer would be a real shame. So the real question is…

What is the Ideal Time to Drive the Icefields Parkway?

Peyto Lake Banff Packing List Vest

If you have the time, I would give at least two full days to drive the Icefields Parkway. With a stop overnight somewhere in the middle near the Columbia Icefields Center (the Glacier View Lodge is dreamy), but there are also a few Jasper campsites.

That being said, we’ve done the drive a few times as a day trip and would say that 6-8 hours will give you ample time to take in the views, get out of the car at many viewpoints (though nowhere near all), and in general, have a very nice day. If you venture out in the summer, and start at sunrise, and end at sunset it’s possible to see most of the main stops on the Icefields Parkway, plus enjoy a hike like Parker Ridge or Wilcox Pass.

There are many must-visit sites along the way, and there is absolutely no way you can cover them all in a day unless you start at sunrise and end at sunset – rushing through every stop. If you want to do any hiking along the parkway, this time will need to be accounted for too.

When is the Best Time to Drive the Icefields Parkway?

The Icefields Parkway is great no matter the season. It is open all year unless avalanche conditions are too high during winter storms — closures rarely last more than a day.

Many people would say the best time to drive the Icefields Parkway is in the summertime, between mid-June to early September. This is when the days are long, the wildflowers are blooming, and the lakes are in their prime. You also get hints of fall color on the Icefields Parkway in late September.

For winter travel, the best time to drive the Icefields Parkway is between December and March, when the peaks are snow-capped, and it feels like you’re driving through Narnia.

Though this is the most dangerous time to drive, as the Icefields Parkway and road conditions deteriorate in the winter. It’s also worth noting that services on the parkway like restaurants, accommodation, campsites, and the only fuel station are closed from November to April, so extra planning needs to be done to make the drive.

In my opinion, the best time to visit the Icefields Parkway is in June or September. Early June is as close to summer as you’re going to get without the hordes of tourists and crowds that you get in July and August, however you do run the risk of some of the lakes not being completely thawed. If you drive the parkway in late September, the road will be awash with fall colors. Though you won’t see tons of larches along the drive unfortunately.

Should I Rent a Car for the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield's Parkway

There are a few ways to see the Icefields Parkway. A personal car, RV, bus tour, motorcycle, or if you’re really hardcore, you can bike it. In the summer, you’ll find a mix of all these things. I would suggest driving the Icefields Parkway in any of the above besides a bus tour.

I’m not a huge fan of bus tours on the parkway. It’s a small road, and large buses typically crowd the road, and all pull over at the same stops at the same time, creating a bit of a jam. Plus, you will miss so many wonderful places if you decide to take a bus tour; they only stop at a handful of places.

Want to sit in the passenger seat? Radventures runs a very fun Icefields Parkway tour!

Is the Icefields Parkway Free?

The Icefields Parkway is completely free to drive. However keep in mind that the Icefields Parkway is in two national parks and you will need a Parks Canada pass to drive the parkway (more on that below).

If you do decide to drive yourself, consider buying the Gypsy Guide Narrative Tour!

Is There Wildlife on the Icefields Parkway?


There is a plethora of wildlife along the Icefields Parkway. Be prepared to see deer, goats, and elk, and if you’re lucky, a bear or coyote. We almost always see a bear when driving the Icefields Parkway in the summer, but they do stay away from traffic and noise pollution, so it’s not a given.

You’ll probably be tempted to pull over if you see wildlife, but it’s best not to do this, especially in the summer. This is what we call a “Bear Jam” and is a real problem in the park.

Once one person pulls over to get a closer look at a bear, another car pulls over, and another, and so on. Eventually, people are getting out of their car taking selfies with the bear (yes, I’m serious), which is dangerous to humans and wildlife.

don’t be these people

Parks Canada discourages pulling over for bears and has even made it illegal for buses to do so. They can issue tickets too. So if you see a bear on the road, slow down and admire it from the car, and do not stop and cause a traffic jam, please.

It’s recommended to give large animals 30 m or three bus lengths of space from your vehicle, and bears 100 m or ten bus lengths. Never feed or approach wildlife.

12 Bear Safety Tips • How To Hike In Bear Country 

What is the Road Like on the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield's Parkway

You can expect a fully paved two-lane road. It’s honestly hard to believe such a nice road was built, given the location.

Where Can I Fill Up on the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield's Parkway
The Saskatchewan River Crossing

There aren’t many gas stations on the Icefields Parkway, so you will really have to plan accordingly. If you’re coming from Lake Louise you should fill up at the village before getting on the Icefields Parkway, there’s a nice Petro Canada with snacks. If you’re coming from Jasper then fill up in town before driving from Jasper to Banff.

These will be your only chances to fill up, besides the Saskatchewan River Crossing, which is at the turn-off for Nordegg. They charge higher than average prices for their fuel and snacks. (Saskatchewan River Crossing closes in the winter, meaning there is nowhere to refuel along the Icefields Parkway in the winter).

Is There Cell Service on the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield's Parkway

Don’t expect to get much of a cell phone signal on the Icefields Parkway. If you’re driving from Lake Louise, you’ll lose a signal sometime after Herbert Lake. If you’re driving from Jasper, you can expect to have a signal until just after the Valley of the Five Lakes Trailhead.

There are a few times along the Icefields Parkway where you will be able to make calls and check emails if need be. I typically get a signal at the Saskatchewan River Crossing and Columbia Icefields Center, but that’s it (and not in the winter when they turn it off). Unplug and enjoy nature – it’s what you’re here for!

What Can I Eat on the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield's Parkway

As far as restaurants go, there aren’t many along the Icefields Parkway. The Num Ti Jah Lodge at Bow Lake has a restaurant, as well as the Saskatchewan River Crossing and the Columbia Icefields Center.

All are a bit overpriced and mediocre, but if you’re hungry, it’s likely you won’t care. I would recommend packing a cooler with food and bringing a nice container of coffee before heading out on the drive. There are plenty of beautiful places to eat with picnic tables.

Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre

I would suggest picking up food at the grocery store in either Canmore, Banff, or Jasper before making the trip. If you miss this opportunity, there is a gas station at Lake Louise with ready-to-eat gas station food, as well as the Trailhead Cafe for coffee and pastry snacks, as well as Laggan’s and a few other Lake Louise restaurants.

There is one grocery store at Lake Louise Village, The Village Market is small, but it has a few items that will get you through the drive!

Where Can I Stay Along the Icefields Parkway?

Camping at Wilcox Campground

There aren’t many places to stay along the Icefields Parkway, and only one high end accommodation option. If you’re after a full hotel stay, I would suggest the Fairmont Park Lodge in Jasper or staying in Lake Louise in Banff.

However, there are a few Icefield Parkway hotels, including the new Glacier View Lodge at Athabasca Glacier, or the rustic Num Ti Jah Lodge at Bow Lake (currently closed).

A few hostels along the route at Mosquito Creek, Rampart Creek, and Hilda Creek offer basic bunks in shared rooms. There are also a few Icefields Parkway camping spots that all operate on a first come first serve basis, check those out here. On weekends in July and August, they fill up incredibly fast, so plan accordingly.

Do I Need a National Park Pass to Drive the Icefields Parkway?

Icefield's Parkway
Looking up at Mt. Chephren

You will need a Parks Canada Pass to drive on the Icefields Parkway, and there are booths just as you’re leaving Lake Louise and Jasper to check if you have them.

You can purchase a Parks Canada pass at any park gate. Or you can buy them in advance online. A Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year, is only $145.25 for a family. Day passes are $10.50 per person, so depending on how many days you are staying, you may want to consider the Discover Pass.

You will also need a Parks Canada pass for visiting Jasper and Banff, so depending on how long your Banff itinerary is it’s likely worth it to buy the Discovery Pass.

Can I Drive the Icefields Parkway in the Winter?

The Icefields Parkway is open all year round, though I wouldn’t advise driving it in the winter unless you have experience with winter driving. The photos above were all taken on a late November day – and it was pretty wretched out.

If there’s been a big recent snowfall, I would check conditions and make sure you have a sturdy 4×4 vehicle at the very least. Snow/winter tires are mandatory on the Icefields Parkway from November 1 to April 1. Your vehicle should have winter tires if you’re driving in Alberta in the winter anyway and should have an emergency kit in case you are stranded. Winter conditions last from Late October/early November to April, but even September will see some snow in the Rockies.

The Icefields Parkway isn’t plowed to the extent that other roads in Alberta are plowed and it is generally not salted. As mentioned above, there’s no cell phone reception to call for help, and it gets very very very cold in Alberta in the winter.

Getting stranded could mean life or death if you’re unprepared. Winter traffic is low compared to summer, so you could be waiting a bit until a passerby comes along.

I should also mention that the only place you can fill up, the Saskatchewan River Crossing, closes in the winter, so you must get on the Icefields Parkway with a full tank of gas in the winter. There are no services on the Icefields Parkway in the winter, so bring plenty of snacks!

Can I Hike Along the Icefields Parkway?

Parker Ridge
Parker Ridge Hike

I’m happy you asked! There are plenty of hiking opportunities along the Icefields Parkway! Some of the easier hikes you can do are Parker Ridge, Bow Glacier Falls, the Valley of Five Lakes, and the hike to Hector Lake.

Longer full-day hikes and scrambles include The Onion, Jimmy Simpson, Little Hector, Observation Peak, and Helen Lake and Cirque Peak.

Are There Rest Stops Along the Icefields Parkway?

Icefields Parkway

There are plenty of places to make a pit stop for a restroom if need be. Almost all the main sites have drop toilets and The Saskatchewan River Crossing and the Columbia Icefields Center have full rest stop facilities.

What is the Best Way to Drive the Icefields Parkway?

You can drive the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper or vice versa. There is no best way to drive the parkway!

Tours Along the Icefields Parkway

Some of the top tours offered along the Icefields Parkway are:

Ultimate Icefields Parkway Itinerary

We’ve put this Icefields Parkway itinerary together as if you were starting at Lake Louise and ending in Jasper, but if you completing the road trip vice versa start at the bottom of this post.

Make sure to download the Icefields Parkway map at the end of this post to your phone before you go so you’re sure to not miss out on any point of interest!!

Herbert Lake

Herbert Lake
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 5.7 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 226 km
  • Type of Stop: Pull Off

The very first stop you’ll come across when you cross the park gates is Herbert Lake on your left-hand side. It may be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention, but I promise you it’s well worth a stop.

Plus, Herbert Lake is literally right off the side of the road and has a big welcoming parking area. After you park, it’s only a few steps until you are at the lake. Once here, you’ll be able to sit in silence and enjoy the views of Mount Temple in the background.

This is one of the lesser talked about lakes in the park, but it’s a local favorite. In the summer you can head here on a weekend and actually find people swimming in the lake. Plus, there’s a hidden diving board!

Hector Lake

 Icefield's Parkway
Hector Lake as seen from the summit of Little Hector
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 21.5 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 210 km
  • Type of Stop: Short hike

Next up on your Icefields Parkway itinerary is Hector Lake. Hector Lake is an Alberta lake that doesn’t get visited as much as many of the other lakes on the Icefields Parkway simply because you have to hike 2.2 km to reach it.

This deters many people, but in fact, it’s very short and well worth it to see this glacial-fed lake. If you don’t want to hike to it no worries – there’s a pullover viewpoint, but it has partially obstructed views. If you’re not paying attention for the lookout or the trail access, this one is very easy to miss!

Bow Lake

Bow Lake
 Icefield's Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 37.1 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 194 km
  • Type of Stop: Pull Off or Hike if you would like

Bow Lake is another stunner that’s a brilliant aquamarine color on a summer day. The scale of the lake is impressive as it’s one of the largest in the park and the giant mountains surrounding the lake humble visitors with scale.

It makes a great place for a nice picnic, canoe, stand up paddleboard, or you can hike to wonderful Bow Glacier Falls – one of our favorite waterfalls in Banff.

From the shore, you have amazing views of the Bow Glacier that feeds the lake in the summer months and is the source of the Bow River. That same river serves as a notable feature throughout much of the park moving through Banff and onto Calgary before ending in Southern Alberta as it joins the Saskatchewan River.

Overlooking Bow Lake from the Cirque Peak Summit

Bow Lake has a pull-off lookout point on the side of the road, with picnic benches nearby. Or you can pull into Num Ti Jah Lodge to get different views of the lake. If you have the time, consider hiking to Bow Glacier Falls, which is 4.6 km from the parking lot, but with little elevation gain – plus you skirt Bow Lake almost the entire time – it’s well worth it.

If you really want a big scramble day I have to suggest hiking The Onion, Helen Lake, Cirque Peak, or scrambling up Jimmy Simpson (if you are a capable scrambler). These are both long scrambles that require a full day.

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake Banff Packing List Vest
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 43.9 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 188 km
  • Type of Stop: Short walk to viewpoint

Peyto Lake (PEE-toh) is another glacier-fed lake in Banff National Park. This is probably the third most popular lake to visit in Banff, after Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

The reason is its unique shape, absolutely mind-blowingly blue water, and the scenic overlook that is easily accessible from the parking lot. They even have a handicap-accessible section that allows for the mobility impaired to witness this jaw-dropping landscape.

Peyto Lake is right off the Icefields Parkway and a must stop along the famed highway. It’s the perfect place to come and enjoy the stellar Banff National Park views in both winter and summer. The Peyto Lake viewpoint is about a 10-minute hike from the parking area and is a must-stop on any Icefields Parkway itinerary.

*If you are up for a big scramble, we suggest Observation Peak across the road.

Peyto Lake from Observation Peak

Waterfowl Lakes

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 58.2 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 173 km
  • Type of Stop: Pull Off

The Waterfowl Lakes are two relaxed lakes in the park that see a fraction of the visitors you’ll see the other lakes on this list. They’re also very conveniently on either side of the Waterfowl Lakes Campground, which we consider one of the best campsites in Banff National Park.

The two lakes are glacial and have the classic blue color that radiates on a sunny day. They don’t require any hiking to get to and therefore are very popular for stand-up paddleboarders, canoers, and kayakers!

Even if you’re not staying at the campground, a public parking lot provides access to hiking trails around the lake and a classic Banff hike up to Chephren Lake (detailed next).

Chephren Lake

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 60.2 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 172 km
  • Type of Stop: Hike

Chephren Lake sits at the base of Mount Chephren and requires a short hike to get to from the Waterfowl Lakes campground, but it’s so worth it! Since you have to hike 7.7 km and 241 meters gain, not many people venture out to it, meaning it is super quiet. Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll be met with yet another picture-perfect glacial lake. I would allow at least a 2 hour stop to be able to do this hike and actually enjoy Chephren Lake.

The hike is pretty mild up to the lake, so we’ve been debating carrying our inflatable paddle boards up in backpacks to Chephren Lake; I’ll update if we make the trek with the boards!

Mistaya Canyon

 Icefield's Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 73.5 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 158 km
  • Type of Stop: Short walk

Mistaya Canyon is a popular stop on the Icefields Parkway. The pullout area for parking here is on the west side of the parkway; there’s limited parking, so it may be busy peak summer.

To reach the canyon, you’ll have to hike down the easy .5 km trail to a well-maintained fenced bridge. It’s here you can see the roaring canyon around you. Watch intensely as the powerful water churns through the rock beneath your feet.

Saskatchewan River Crossing

 Icefield's Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 78.7 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 153 km
  • Type of Stop: Pull Off

I’m not going to say this is a must-stop on the Icefields Parkway, but it’s worth mentioning the Saskatchewan River Crossing as it’s the last place you can get gas before Jasper. So even though it’s extremely overpriced, if you need to fill up, you should do it here. At the River Crossing, there’s a convenience store/souvenir shop and a small cafe.

Although it may not look like it when looking at the building, this is a significant site as it’s where the three rivers meet. The mighty North Saskatchewan, the Howse River, and the Mistaya.

The Weeping Wall Viewpoint

 Icefield's Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 107 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 124 km
  • Type of Stop: Pull off or short walk

The Weeping Wall is a set of cliffs at the base of Cirrus Mountain on your right, as you are driving from Banff to Jasper.

If you look towards it, you’ll see water cascading down in a series of Banff waterfalls, essentially “weeping.” The biggest one is called “Teardrop.”

You can stop at the Weeping Wall Viewpoint to take everything in, or you can take a short walk to get closer to The Weeping Wall. If there hasn’t been significant rainfall in a while, you’ll unlikely see anything more than a trickle. However if you visit in May or June with the snowmelt, it’s quite a beautiful sight.

Panther and Bridal Veil Falls

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 115 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 117 km
  • Type of Stop: Viewpoint or short hike

As you continue up the Icefields Parkway, there will be a pull-off point on your right. This pull-off point overlooks Panther Falls, and it’s well worth the stop to admire and grab a photo!

Parker Ridge Hike

 Icefield's Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 119 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 112 km
  • Type of Stop: Hike

If you have an extra 2-3 hours on your Icefields Parkway journey, I highly suggest hiking up to Parker Ridge as it’s one of the best Icefields Parkway hikes.

I didn’t know what to expect when we began this hike but seeing that the top of Parker Ridge didn’t look so far from the trailhead, I figured it would be relatively easy – and it was. It’s a gradual 2.5 km incline to the ridge, all of which is pretty easy and well marked. There is nothing technical involved and absolutely no scrambling.

We saw young couples, older people, and families with young children and dogs on this hike. It truly is a hike for everyone. Given the ease, I wasn’t expecting the view to be so great, but once you get to the ridge, you have the most spectacular views over the very impressive Saskatchewan Glacier. In under an hour, you’ll have fantastic views of the Icefields and an impressive Koolaid blue glacier lake – Seriously, it doesn’t get much better!

It gets windy once you get to the ridge, so make sure you bring a jacket. Because the views were so incredible, we hung around for 30 minutes, just enjoying the sunshine, views, and taking photos.

Wilcox Pass

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 126 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 105 km
  • Type of Stop: Hike

Another longer stop-off if you’re in the mood for hiking is Wilcox Pass. To hike Wilcox Pass is 9.3 km, and 522 meters, and will take you between 3-5 hours to complete. But the views are fantastic.

Wilcox Pass offers mesmerizing glacial views and towering mountains. The hike flanks either side of Mount Athabasca and Andromeda, two of the tallest mountains in the Canadian Rockies; it is pretty much at the border between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.

Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield

Athabasca Glacier
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 130 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 105 km
  • Type of Stop: Short Hike or Booked Excursion

If you’re not feeling a full-on mountaineering climb up Athabasca, you can still go see the Athabasca Glacier, and even walk on the glacier with the Ice Explorer vehicles. Here you can get some history around the glacier and experience the fun without much physical effort.

On a guided tour on the Athabasca Glacier!

You take these massive vehicles with wheels taller than a person on to the center of the Athabasca Glacier. We’re honestly mixed on the experience as the glacier has seen an extreme level of retreating, that’s a direct effect of global warming.

Nonetheless it seems the decision is to “sacrifice” one glacier to help educate visitors about their wonders. To those that are physically able and want to see the glacier we recommend booking a walking tour on the glacier instead of the tonka trucks.

Glacier Skywalk

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 134 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 97.3 km
  • Type of Stop: Booked excursion

If you’re already at Athabasca Glacier, you may as well continue a couple of kilometers down the road to the Glacier Skywalk. Here you can step out on a cliff edge walk and see the glaciers around you and have views out of the Sunwapta Valley.

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk has views of wildlife, waterfalls, and fossils. It’s a fun, family-friendly thing to do in Banff. However, in my opinion, you can get the same experience by going on a beautiful hike in Banff or Jasper National Park for free!

Note that you cannot just pull off and enjoy the Jasper Skywalk, tickets must be booked at the Glacier Discovery Center, where you will park and take the bus to the Skywalk.

Tangle Creek Falls

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 135 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 96 km
  • Type of Stop: Roadside Stop

Right after passing the Skywalk, you’ll find a waterfall on your right-hand side, a small parking area on your left, and likely a small gathering of people out of their car to check out Tangle Creek Falls. It’s not the most impressive waterfall on the Icefields Parkway, but worth a quick stop!

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Falls
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 177 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 55.4 km
  • Type of Stop: Short walk

Sunwapta Falls is an easy stop off on the Icefields Parkway that is well worth venturing to. Sunwapta Falls consists of upper and lower falls that are fed by the Athabasca Glacier.

The upper falls are more easily accessible and therefore much busier, but a 1.3 km hike will take you to to the lower falls. Both are fantastic to visit in both the summer and the winter.

Goats & Glaciers Lookout

 Icefield's Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 194 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 38 km
  • Type of Stop: Viewpoint

The Goats & Glaciers lookout is exactly that. A lookout point along the Icefields Parkway that overlooks the Athabasca River with Mount Kerkeslin towering over it. You may even see some mountain goats (hence the name) has the area attracts mountain goats looking to sip up the salt on the side of the river bank.

It’s a nice quick stop and a good photo op, but it’s very easy to miss, so keep your eyes open for the pull-off, it will be on your left when driving from Banff to Jasper.

Athabasca Falls

Icefields Parkway
  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 201 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 32.1 km
  • Type of Stop: Short walk

Athabasca Falls is one of the top things to see in Jasper National Park. Located about 20 miles south of Jasper town – with a drop of about 75 feet – Athabasca Falls isn’t a giant by waterfall standards, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dramatic and majestic in its own right.

The volume of water that rushes over the edge is very high, making the upper Athabasca River positively roar – especially during the height of the thaw in late spring. Like so many other visitor sites in the area, it’s conveniently located in Jasper National Park, which will make filling up your day with enough scenery to satisfy even the most finicky nature lover pretty easy.

There are ample hiking trails to get you to viewing areas which will allow you to ogle the river and falls in all their glory. Don’t try to get closer to take a good picture; the ground and rocks are treacherous and slippery, and a fall into the frigid water and rocky canyon wouldn’t end well.

Horseshoe Lake

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 205.2 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 28 km
  • Type of Stop: Lake

Horseshoe Lake is just a 20 minute drive from Jasper along the Icefields Parkway. It’s a wonderful local lake that many visitors are not aware of, but it’s well worth a stop! The lake is massive and forms none other than a horseshoe shape, and enclosed by cliffs where you can jump into the frigid Canadian waters.

There are numerous jump points, with the highest height rumored to reach 80 feet. Always make sure to check your landing and make sure it’s safe before jumping!

Besides cliff jumping you can enjoy a paddle on this beautiful lake in the summer.

Valley of the Five Lakes Trail

  • Distance from Lake Louise Village: 222 km
  • Distance from Jasper: 10 km
  • Type of Stop: Family Friendly hike

The Valley of Five Lakes is a classic Jasper hike that’s probably the most popular in the park. You’ll come across the trailhead while driving Highway 93, just before getting to Downtown Jasper.

This is an easy Jasper hike that has five picturesque lakes along the trail. It’s a pretty flat trail that’s well developed, so it’s easy to enjoy the lakes and the varying colors of blue and green.

It’s really a great trail for those who visit the park and want a short and simple hike with amazing scenery.

Downtown Jasper

At the end of the Icefields Parkway is the amazing town of Jasper. You’ve just gotten in after a long drive, so chill out and find a fantastic Jasper restaurant and bar to hang out at. We personally love Jasper Brewing, especially in the summer.

Once near Downtown Jasper you’ll be spoilt with things to do. We love to paddle around on Pyramid Lake, or drive to Medicine and Maligne Lake. See all of our favorite things to do in Jasper here.

Must Visit Stops on the Icefields Parkway Map

The Best Icefields Parkway Hikes

There are many hikes along the Icefields Parkway to enjoy. Here are some of the best:

  • Parker Ridge (Easy)
  • Chephren Lake (Easy)
  • Valley of the Five Lakes (Easy)
  • Bow Glacier Falls (Moderate)
  • Helen Lake (Moderate)
  • Wilcox Pass (Moderate)
  • Cirque Peak (Moderate Scramble)
  • Dolomite Pass (Hard)

How to Tackle the Icefields Parkway

Parking at the Glacier Discovery Center
Parking at the Glacier Discovery Center

You have multiple options to drive the Icefields Parkway. Our recommended choice would be to have your own car so you can stop when you want, where you want. All options are as follows:

  • Icefields Parkway by Car: The best way to do it is with your own car! If you are driving yourself consider purchasing an Icefields Parkway audio guide, which will give you detailed information about what you are seeing.
  • Icefields Parkway by Bus: If you don’t feel like driving the parkway or you’d rather ride as a passenger to watch out the window, there are tour operators that can drive you from Jasper to Banff or vice versa. Brewster Express, SunDog Tours, and Discover Banff Tours all run bus service.
  • Icefields Parkway by Private Transfer: Banff Tours has luxury sedans, SUVs, sprinter vans, and even a mini coach that can fit up to 24 people!
  • Icefields Parkway by Tour:  Radventures offers Icefields Parkway tours.
  • Icefields Parkway by Rideshare: You can try PopaRide to connect with other travelers, or join our private Facebook group to connect with other travelers!

Note – There is no train service between Banff and Jasper

Where to Stay Along the Icefields Parkway

Staying at the Pyramid Lake Resort

Icefields Parkway Camping Spots

  • Columbia Icefield Campground
  • Wilcox Creek Campground
  • Honeymoon Lake Campground
  • Mount Kerkeslin Campground
  • Jonas Creek Campground
  • Whistlers Campground
Jasper Camping Tips + Best Jasper Campgrounds (for 2022)

Are you planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies and would like to know more about driving from Banff to Jasper, driving the Icefields Parkway or anything else? Post your questions in the comments. We will be happy to answer them!

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About Natasha

Natasha lives in Canmore, Alberta. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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17 thoughts on “23 BEAUTIFUL Stops on the Icefields Parkway (2023 Guide)”

  1. Great blog Thankyou.
    We are coming from Australia to our daughter in Canmore and have booked 3nights in Jasperfrom 18 to 21 April. 2022
    Is this reasonable time for driving that road …have been to Canmore many times regards Judy, Manly nsw Australia

  2. Very well written, amazing details and full if useful information for the first time visitors like myself.
    A must read and keep article.
    Thanks to Natasha.

  3. We did the drive from Lake Louise all the way to Goats & Glaciers today, and your blog was essential for our trip. Peyto Lake was incredible – that blue! Mistaya Canyon was awe inspiring. The Weeping Wall was a great stop. All three made us say “wow!”. Thanks for your help!

  4. Natasha — my wife and I are headed to the Banff~Jasper area soon (staying in Canmore, actually) and I just spent a few *hours* reading all your amazingly detailed posts.

    You’ve done a bang-up job listing all the sights and ideas in the area, and I really can’t thank you enough. As a travel blogger myself, I like to leave thank-you notes when I can for people like you doing labor of love jobs like this. I’m sure we’ll have a brilliant time in Alberta, and it’s partly because of people like you. Thank you! Thank you!

  5. Good day.

    Thank you so much for the great information.

    I’m thinking of taking this trip by motorbike in late June. Have you any tips I should know about particularly for motorbikes?

    Thank you again. Have a wonderful day.

    • Hi Deb,

      We have never motorbiked the Icefields Parkway, but many of the same tips apply. For more information I suggest you contact Jasper Motorcycle Tours as they should be able to answer any questions you may have.

  6. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing all this very helpful info.
    We have just over a week ifrom 19 May arriving Edmonton (staying near a cousin) and hiring a car.
    We want to see the Parkway and either Banff or Jasper.
    Arrive one day, return to Edmonton the next. Sounds like a lot more going on in Banff.
    Any advice on best journey to see as much of Parkway with a few stops.
    Thanks. Jon UK

  7. Very informative and well written blog. I really enjoyed reading all the important takes you did. I always enjoyed driving this road. I called this road, “A drive of a lifetime” where all the scenic views are amazing. All the brilliant information you give comes in handy to other people that would like to enjoy Banff and Jasper and to also have a good itinerary for their visit. Kudos to your hard work!


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