The Icefields Parkway
Linking Lake Louise with Jasper is one of the most beautiful journeys on the planet – the Icefields Parkway. Rated as one of the top drives in the world by Condé Nast Traveller, the Icefields Parkway is a 230 km stretch of double-lane highway winding along the Continental Divide through soaring rocky mountain peaks and vast sweeping valleys.
The Icefields Parkway is a “must do” when visiting the Canadian Rockies. It offers spectacular sightseeing of pristine turquoise lakes, tumbling waterfalls, ancient glaciers and the world famous Columbia Icefields. Along the stretch, big horn sheep, black bears, and coyotes are frequently spotted. Wolves, grizzlies, and goats less so. But witnessing a truly wild sight, like a trio of infant bear cubs under the protection of their mother, is not unlikely.
More than a drive, the Icefields Parkway is a journey through natural history and captivating landscapes. It is rated as the #1 attraction in Banff National on TripAdvisor. It’s possible to travel this route in 3 hours but it is a crime to do so because of the jaw-dropping scenery. Needless to say, a visit to the Canadian Rockies would be simply incomplete without experiencing the splendour of the Icefields Parkway.
The Icefields Parkway is a portion of Hwy 93, a road that runs all the way from Jasper to Wickenburg, Arizona – that’s 2,768 kms (1,720 miles). This highway contains not only one of the most scenic drives in the world on the Icefields Parkway, but also features other world famous attractions such as the Hoover Dam and historic Freemont Street in Las Vegas.
One of the best resources for making the most of your Icefields Parkway road trip is found at icefieldsparkway.com. This website offers an interactive way to plan your trip with points of interest, best photo opportunities, stops for short hikes and even favorite picnic locations. Since there is no cell service on the Parkway, the site offers a downloadable “Parkway Planner” which includes maps, highlights and even a trivia section. For example, did you know that the Columbia Icefield is the largest mass of ice south of the Arctic Circle? That’s huge!
The website, icefieldsparkway.com is a valuable resource for all travellers to make the most of their Canadian Rockies vacation. The site was designed by the Mount Robson Inn, Jasper Aberta and Mountaineer Lodge, Lake Louise Alberta. If you are looking for accommodations, let the Mount Robson Inn, Jasper and Mountaineer Lodge, Lake Louise be your launch and landing point for your Icefields Parkway journey.
National Geographic Magazine calls it “One of the World’s Ten Greatest Drives”. It has been referred to as “The Back Bone of the Canadian Rockies”. For many, it is the road trip of a lifetime.
Stretching 230 km between Lake Louise and Jasper, this worldclass journey amidst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies offers easy access to a vast wilderness of ancient glaciers. It’s complete with guided adventures onto the ice fields, majestic viewpoints and interpretive displays that will enrich your understanding of glaciers and climate change.
While plotting the border between Alberta and BC in the early 1900s, this roadway was the brainchild of Arthur O. Wheeler, who described this route as a “wonder trail”. Construction began in 1931 as part of a depression-era public works program to put men to work, but the rugged terrain and short season meant the project took 9 years to complete.
Isolated for centuries, 1940 ushered in an era of tourism to the region when the Icefields Parkway opened to the public. Today, more than a million travellers experience the parkway annually.