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Icefields Parkway, Canada

Icefields Parkway,from Jasper to Lake Louise is a good 230KM highway that connects Banff and Jasper National Parks.

It is one the most scenic highways to drive through in Canada. And I can vouch for it. 

View of Waterfalls, Glaciers, turquoise blue lakes, and snow covered mountains – thats what you get on this highway. 

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We drove through from Calgary to Jasper the first time with very few stops, since we wanted to get to the campsite at Jasper as soon as possible.

However, on the way back from Jasper, we gave ourselves a full-day to stop as much as we wanted to enjoy the beauty of this highway.

I have covered a section of this highway that is considered part of Jasper NP in this blog.

The key on this highway is to keep your eyes peeled for “view point” sign boards. And any other spot that you find interesting.

There are gorgeous waterfalls such as Athabasca, Sunwapta, Tangle along the way that are absolutely must-see.

Most of the scenes in this high-way are drive-in and take picture type of places. If walking is required, it might be a 10-min walk to the view point.

However, there are hikes along the parkway that are absolutely worthy of anyone’s time. 

If anything the following two will give a glimpse of the scenery.

  • Willcox Pass (2.4K or 8K options) – View of Athabasca Glacier
  • Parker Ridge (5.4K return) – View of the Valley

We hiked the Wilcox Pass 2.4K loop. 

Technically Parker Ridge falls on the Banff National Park. After Wilcox we were all pumped up to do the Parker ridge hike. However the weather was not on our side. It started pouring down and we chose to move on. 

Next time we visit, Parker ridge will certainly be on our list of hikes.

There are lots of beautiful glacier lakes along the way as well. If anything don’t miss Peyto lake.

There are couple of Motels/hotels on Icefields Parkway. However, be ready to a pay in upper $200 per night. 

Also, along the road there are few HI hostels. What i learned after stopping at a couple of them, is that none of them have a flush toilet or shower. It’s just a structure over your head and a bed. 

All the campsites on this road also offer similar facilities – no flush toilet or running water. 

If you are driving from Jasper to Banff NP and plan to end the day when you enter Banff National Park, the best options for camping are:

  • Kickinghorse campsite at Yoho National Park. This is a first come first serve site with shower/flush toilet. Only 20 min drive to Lake Louise.
  • Monarch campsite at Yoho National Park. This is no water/flush toilet campground. But, Kickinghorse is just a two mins drive and they allow Monarch campers to use the facilities here.
  • Lake Louise Tent – Since this is available for booking online, in peak season hard to get. So plan ahead if you want to stay here.