From Banff to Jasper: The Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway travels between Banff and Jasper and may just be one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The 230km stretch of
Rocky Mountain highway offers visitors to these Canadian National Parks the full site-seeing spectrum.
Having grown up just outside of Banff, some of my most reflective moments have come racing between the two national parks, soaking up
the impossible blue-green lakes and rivers, slowing the car for elk and bears crossing the man-made divide, and staring up at the high alpine glaciers. It feels like the birthplace of imagination.
There are too many stops worth mentioning on this dreamy drive but even if you simply stay in your car you are likely to see some of the most amazing sites of your life. If you do get a chance to stop, try Sunwapta Falls and its source the Athabasca Glacier. The 18.5M high falls are easy to
access, as is the glacier through one of the many tour companies that offer daily trips.
In order to stop for any significant period of time along the parkway you will need to purchase Parks Canada pass, which costs about $20 per day and can be bought at one of the toll booths along the highway.
With nearly 200,000 cars travelling across the highway in the summer months of July and August, the Icefields Parkway can get busy but there is plenty of space for everybody in the wide-open Rockies. If you are really trying to avoid the crowds, perhaps try the shoulder seasons of
September or June. Although you are more likely to run into poor weather patterns, the traffic is far lighter. Either way, wandering down the Icefields Parkway will stay with you for a lifetime.