How to Get from BANFF to JASPER (or Jasper to Banff)

The drive from Jasper to Banff, or Banff to Jasper, along the scenic Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies, is ranked among the top road trips in the world. Along the drive between the two mountain towns, you’ll see mountains and glaciers rise dramatically overhead while wildlife roams freely.

The majority of the drive from Jasper to Banff occurs along the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway is a 232 km stretch of double-lane highway taking you along the Continental Divide and runs from Lake Louise to Jasper, both fantastic places. You can drive the Icefields Parkway in either direction in just one day, or spread it out over multiple days.


The Drive From Jasper To Banff (Banff to Jasper)

The drive between Jasper and Banff is 288 km (179 miles) and takes around 3:30 hrs. Two highways connect the small mountain towns, the Icefields Parkway (AB-93) and TransCanada Highway (AB-1). If you Google it, Google Maps will show you that the drive from Jasper to Banff or Banff to Jasper will take about 3 hours and 25 minutes (288 km). You will not make it in less time, nor should you, as it’s a beautiful drive worthy of the entire day.

If you were to drive straight through without any stops, the drive would take you between 3.5 and 4 hours. However, you should expect the drive to take at least 5 hours in the winter and the summer, but it’s best to plan to drive between Jasper and Banff all day. The reasons the drive between takes longer than calculated are because of the following.

  • In the summer, the Icefields Parkway is very busy, and there will likely be congestion. Expect lots of vehicles, especially during July and August. There’s also a bit of construction between the Weeping Wall and the Discover Center, which has held us up on more than a few occasions.
  • While the road is maintained in the winter, conditions deteriorate quickly. If you are driving the Icefields Parkway between November and April, you need to be prepared for winter driving and have winter tires on your vehicle. If there has been recent snowfall, you will have to drive slow and steady as the road is not plowed as often as main roads.
  • In both the winter and summer, there are so many stops to make along the Icefields Parkway you’ll want to take your time and see as many as you can.

Banff to Jasper by Car

icefields-parkway

The best way to connect Banff to Jasper is by car. This allows you to stop when you want to stop and where you want to stop. Ideally, you’ll have your own vehicle to do this with, as rental car rates in the summer are quite high.

The most popular way to drive is from Banff to Jasper, so it’s best to pick up a rental car in Calgary. Though if driving from Jasper to Banff, you should rent your vehicle in Edmonton. Another option is to schedule your flights as one-ways (fly into Calgary and out of Edmonton or vice versa), though this is generally more expensive. We recommend booking a rental car with Rentalcars.com or Expedia.

If you want to have your set of wheels, kitchen, and bed all in on place, we would recommend booking a campervan for your trip to the Rockies. Campervans are a popular form of travel in Banff come summertime! You can compare van rates here!

If you are driving yourself, consider purchasing a Gypsy Guide audio guide, which will give you detailed information about what you are seeing.


Banff to Jasper by Bus

Cascade Gardens

If you don’t feel like driving the parkway or you’d rather ride as a passenger and watch out the window, tour operators can take you from Jasper to Banff or vice versa.

  • Brewster Express offers a pickup service from any hotel in Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, or Calgary. They can help you conveniently plan your trip between the two destinations. Prices start at $38.50 CAD, but the price between Jasper and Banff is currently $120. Return tickets provide a discount.
  • SunDog Tours also operates a one-way tour that begins at Banff or Lake Louise and drops off in Jasper. It’s a full-day tour with many stops along the way and includes a four-hour stop at the Athabasca Glacier. They also operate a direct route from Jasper to Banff, which is part of their Calgary Connector service. It’s a daily service that operates in the winter between October and April.
  • Banff Tours provides a coach shuttle service between Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, and Jasper. There are pick-up points at certain hotels within each destination.

Tours

If you don’t have your own set of wheels, one of the best ways to get between Banff and Jasper is with a guided tour. Get Your Guide offers tours between Banff or Lake Louise to Jasper.


Train Service

Unfortunately, there is no train service connecting Banff and Jasper. However, there are a few Canadian Rockies train journeys that include the beautiful Icefields Parkway drive.

  • The Rocky Mountaineer has a few routes that include Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the most luxurious ways to travel by train.
  • Canada By Design has some wonderful long itineraries that include the Canadian Rockies. Many of their routes start in Vancouver or Calgary and last between 6 to 8 days.

Rideshare

Bow Lake - Icefields Parkway

It’s possible to connect with others traveling from Banff to Jasper. Check out Poparide for people looking to fill their seats for a small fee. The only problem with this is that these users are often traveling from point to point for reasons other than tourism, so they may not be stopping at many sights. You can also join our private Facebook group to connect with other like-minded travelers.


Banff to Jasper by Private Tour

If you are traveling with a larger group it may be worth it to travel between Banff and Jasper on a private tour. Banff Tours has luxury sedans, SUVs, sprinter vans, and even a mini coach that can fit up to 24 people! This is an extremely comfortable way to travel, and the guides are very knowledgeable.


How Long is the Drive Between Jasper and Banff?

Motorcycles on the Icefields PArkway

The fastest you could drive the entire parkway is around 3.5 hours. Though, just driving straight from Jasper to Banff, 288 km, in one sitting without a stop would be a real shame. There are a plethora of gorgeous vistas, glaciers, waterfalls, and hiking trails along the highway that will take you anywhere from 1-3 days to see. We’ll break down our favorite places to stop below.


Where To Stop Between Jasper and Banff

Cirque Peak Hike
Hiking along the Parkway

There are a plethora of worthy stops on the drive from Jasper to Banff. Even if you had a month, there would still be plenty left to explore, especially for hikers. Below are several highlights along the way, starting in Jasper. You can read our post about the best stops along the Icefields Parkway for more information.

Athabasca Falls

Icefields Parkway Athabasca Falls
  • Distance from Jasper: 32.1 km
  • Distance from Banff: 257 km

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Falls
  • Distance from Jasper: 55.4 km
  • Distance from Banff: 234 km

Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Glacier
  • Distance from Jasper: 105 km
  • Distance from Banff: 187 km

Mistaya Canyon

Mistaya Canyon
  • Distance from Jasper: 158 km
  • Distance from Banff: 130 km

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake
  • Distance from Jasper: 188 km
  • Distance from Banff: 101 km

Bow Lake

Bow Lake
  • Distance from Jasper: 195 km
  • Distance from Banff: 93.8 km

Lake Louise

Lake Louise
  • Distance from Jasper: 232 km
  • Distance from Banff: 57.3 km

Bow Valley Parkway

Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
  • Distance from Jasper: 232 km
  • Distance from Banff: 10 km

The Best Hikes Between Jasper and Banff

Parker Ridge Trail
Parker Ridge Trail

If you want to get out of the car and stretch your legs, there are many hikes to enjoy between Banff and Jasper. Some of the best hikes that are actually along the Icefields Parkway are:

  • Wilcox Pass (moderate)
  • The Onion (Hard)
  • Dolomite Pass (Hard)
  • Mt. Little Hector (Scramble)
  • Cirque Peak (Scramble)

Road Conditions Change with Seasons

Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway in May

The drive is great no matter the season. Even in the winter, the Icefields Parkway is open unless avalanche conditions are too high during winter storms, or there has been a huge winter storm. Closures rarely last more than a day or two. 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.

In the winter, drivers should be prepared for winter driving conditions. Snowstorms are frequent in the winter, and ice is always present on the road during this time. Services are seasonal, so restaurants, accommodations, campsites, and fuel stations along the parkway close from November through April. Winter also means shorter days, which means less time to see all the sights, even if you get an early start. Driving at night, especially during a snowstorm, can be quite a scary experience.

Icefields Parkway

Fuel stations are available in Jasper and Lake Louise at a distance of 232 km; ensure that you fill them up before driving the road in the winter. The TransCanada segment of the drive is typically in better condition, but it’s very common to find one lane of the road covered in ice and snow.

Summer is the best time to drive between Jasper and Banff, but I would not let that detract you from visiting in the winter. We find the ski and winter sports are better in Banff than in Jasper. Banff also serves as a great base for ski resorts in the greater region, like in Golden (Kicking Horse Ski Resort) or Invermere (Panorama Ski Resort).


Wildlife on the Road from Jasper to Banff

Bear Road Jasper to Banff

There is plenty of wildlife along the Icefields Parkway. So be prepared to see deer, elk, mountain sheep, and, if you’re lucky, a bear or coyote. We almost always see a bear when driving from Jasper to Banff, but they tend to stay away from traffic and noise pollution. You’ll probably be tempted to pull over if you see wildlife, but it’s best not to do this. This is what we call a “Bear Jam” and is a real problem in the park.

bad tourists getting out of their car for a bear in banff
DON’T DO THIS

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

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. If there is a pull-off or parking lot nearby, feel free to stop, but still, give the animal plenty of space. In general, if you cause an animal to change its course, you are too close.


Services Along the Drive

Columbia Icefields Center

Fuel from Banff to Jasper

There aren’t many gas stations on the Icefields Parkway, so you will really have to plan accordingly. If you’re coming from Jasper, then fill up there. There is only one service station between Jasper and Lake Louise – the Saskatchewan River Crossing. It’s only open in the summer, and they charge a premium for fuel.

The only other fuel between the drive from Jasper to Banff is at Lake Louise Village. The gas stations in Lake Louise are open year-round, and are just slightly higher priced than in Banff. You don’t want to run out of fuel on the Icefields Parkway, especially in the winter, so always make sure you have enough.

Cell Coverage

overlooking the Athabasca Glacier
Overlooking the Athabasca Glacier

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 only in the summer months. In the winter, there is pretty much no cell service along the Icefields Parkway.

Unplug and enjoy nature – it’s what you’re here for! The TransCanada section of the drive (essentially until the start of the Parkway) between Banff and Jasper has cell service.

Food and Restaurants

Food at the Glacier Discovery Center
Food at the Glacier Discovery Center

It’s best to pack your food for the drive from Jasper to Banff. Pick up groceries and snacks in Banff or Jasper and enjoy them while on the road. If you miss food in Banff, your last stop for snacks for a while is Lake Louise Village.

There are two gas stations with a few convenience store items in Lake Louise, though PetroCanada offers more. In Lake Louise Village, there is The Village Market, which is a small grocery store with limited hours. Beyond that, you can grab a quick bite at the Trailhead Cafe, Laggans, or a few other Lake Louise restaurants. Our favorite is the Trailhead Cafe, where we go for coffee, tea, sandwiches, wraps, or baked goods.

There is not much in terms of food or restaurants once you get on the Icefields Parkway. If you have missed food in Jasper, Banff, or Lake Louise, you can stop at the Saskatchewan River Crossing, where there is a mediocre buffet-style restaurant and overpriced snacks, or at the Columbia Icefields Center by Athabasca Glacier, which offers amazing views but forgettable expensive food.

Remember that the Columbia Icefield Center and Saskatchewan River Crossing are closed in the winter.

Restrooms

glacier-discovery-center
At the Glacier Discovery Center

Thankfully, there are more restroom options along the Icefields Parkway than food options. Flush toilets can be found at Lake Louise Village, the Columbia Icefield Center (closed in winter*), and Saskatchewan River Crossing (closed in winter*). There are also drop toilets at Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Helen Lake trailhead, and Mistaya Canyon.


A Parks Canada Pass is Required to Drive Between Banff and Jasper

On the Summit of Mt. Little Hector (moderate scramble)
On the Summit of Mt. Little Hector (moderate scramble)

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 as you leave 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 gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year, which is only $151.25 for a family. Day passes are $11.00 per person, so depending on how many days you are staying, you may want to consider the Discovery Pass. If you have a long Banff itinerary, it’s best to get the Discovery Pass, which will last a year.


Where to Stay Between Banff and Jasper

Cameron Standing On Balcony From Glacier View Lodge
The Glacier View Lodge – only open in the summer

There aren’t many places to stay along the Icefields Parkway, and only one high-end accommodation option. If you’re after a nice hotel stay, we suggest the Fairmont Park Lodge in Jasper or the Fairmont Lake Louise in Banff. However, there are a few Icefield Parkway hotels, including the new Glacier View Lodge at Athabasca Glacier, or the rustic Lodge at Bow Lake.

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.


Where to Stay in Lake Louise


Where to Stay in Jasper


Hopefully these tips will help you on your drive from Banff to Jasper. If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.


Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!

↓ Join the community ↓

The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for Canadian Rockies travel advice and information, including hike and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.

the banff blog facebook group

About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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6 thoughts on “How to Get from BANFF to JASPER (or Jasper to Banff)”

  1. Hi
    Thank you for very helpful information. I am planning to travel from Seattle to Jasper this coming summer with my RV. I will leave my comment after my trip.
    best regads

    Reply
  2. Thank you for the information. Very helpful. I am planning a trip for 8 people (4 adults, 4 kids – all kids above 8 yrs) in June last week. How would you suggest planning for car rental? I see most cars are 7 seater.

    Reply
  3. Hello Natasha,
    Thank you for your article and is printed off for reference. Can I ask please if only going in one direction which we are what would be your preference, I am reading the glaciers are better driving viewing but unsure if that would be from Jasper to Banff or Banff to Jasper. Your opinion would be very much kindly appreciated. Thank you ♥

    Reply

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