Canada icefields parkway road sky clouds joshua woroniecki
Canada icefields parkway road sky mountains floris siegers
Canada icefields parkway moose road snow ivars krutainis
Canada icefields parkway waterfowl lake mountains ben turnbull

13 Must see spots along the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway isn’t just a road - it’s a journey.

One of the most scenic drives in the world, this highway spans 233 kilometres between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, connecting Lake Louise and Jasper. It would take you just under three hours to drive non-stop, but that’s no fun - especially with all the beautiful sights along the way.

It’s so much better to take your time and make a day of the drive! In this read, you’ll journey along the Icefields Parkway in one day: beginning early in Lake Louise, stopping at the best spots along the way, and ending in Jasper just in time for dinner.

With no cell phone reception, only one gas station, and hardly any accommodations on the highway, it’s just the road that will remind you of civilisation. If you’re ready to experience breathtaking views, mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, rushing waterfalls, and ever-changing glaciers...

It's time to go.

It's time to hit the open road
© Joshua Earle
The Icefields Parkway is one road from Lake Louise to Jasper
© Abben S

1. Lake Louise

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 0km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 0 minutes
  • Side of the road: N/A
  • Distance from the road: N/A
  • Time to spend here: N/A
  • Total distance travelled: 0km
  • Total time travelled: 0 minutes
  • Distance remaining: 233km to Jasper


We begin our journey by hitting the open road from Lake Louise. Assuming you’ve already spent a couple days here and explored the area (kayaking Moraine Lake is almost obligatory), we leave at 6am. This may sound early, but it’s the best time to beat the traffic, hit the sights, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the active wildlife in the morning.

To consider before you go:

  • Make sure you fuel up before leaving. There is only one gas station on the Icefields Parkway, and for that reason fuel is incredibly pricey. You’re better off leaving with a full tank.

  • Pack plenty of snacks and drinks for the ride, and maybe even a picnic lunch! Lake Louise has some great bakeries that offer boxed lunches to eat on your journey.

  • Most viewpoints along the way offer outhouse facilities, but the only places with running water are the Saskatchewan River Crossing and the Icefields Centre.

  • Since there is no mobile reception on the Icefields Parkway, we recommend you download the area on Google Maps prior to your journey. The Icefields Parkway is one straight road, but if you decide to venture off hiking it’s nice to have a complete map just in case.

  • There is a gate to the entrance of the highway. Expect to pay $10 per person if you don’t have a Parks Canada Pass.

Make sure you spend a couple days in this stunning area before heading to Jasper
© Paul Siewert
Kayaking is an almost obligatory activity
© Matthew Fournier

2. Bow Lake

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 39km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 29 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 15 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 39km
  • Total time travelled: 44 minutes
  • Distance remaining: 194km to Jasper


The first stop out of Lake Louise is Bow Lake, which you’ll notice right away as it lines the Icefields Parkway. Just pull over in the bay on the side of the road and take in the view. Bow Lake is the headwaters of the Bow River that runs south through the city of Calgary and ultimately to Hudson Bay. The water in the lake is meltwater from the Bow Glacier, making it a beautiful turquoise colour. You don’t have to spend too much time here, just embrace the gorgeous sight, take a few pictures, and be on your way to the next stop.

The water in the lake is meltwater from the Bow Glacier, making it a beautiful turquoise colour
© Chong Wei
A double rainbow over the lake adds to its magnificence
© David Brooke Martin

3. Peyto Lake

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 7km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 4 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: >1km
  • Time to spend here: 40 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 46km
  • Total time travelled: 1.5 hours
  • Distance remaining: 187km to Jasper


Peyto Lake is one of the most popular spots along the Icefields Parkway - and definitely the most photographed. It was named after Bill Peyto, an early trail guide and trapper in the Banff area. The walk to the viewpoint from the parking is well-marked and accessible for all levels. It will take you about 10 minutes there and back.

You’ll feel as though you’re stepping into a postcard as you come upon the glacier-fed lake. During the summer, significant amounts of glacial rock flour flow into the lake, and these suspended rock particles give the lake a bright turquoise colour.

Peyto Lake looking postcard perfect
© Jess Snoekh
You're likely to spot wildlife along the way.
© Jody Confer

4. Waterfowl Lake

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 19km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 16 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 15 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 65km
  • Total time travelled: 2 hours
  • Distance remaining: 168km to Jasper


Our next stop is Waterfowl Lake. Close to the road, you can make a quick stop here for the view before heading off again. The crystal clear waters reflect the mountains behind it perfectly, but that won’t be the only reflection happening here. Get lost in calm thought as you take in the beautiful view.

Waterfowl Lake is a perfect spot for photographers
© Ben Turnbull
The crystal clear waters reflect the mountains behind it perfectly
© Isabella Juskova

Useful facts

5. Saskatchewan River Crossing

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 18km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 14 minutes
  • Side of the road: Right
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 30 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 83km
  • Total time travelled: 2.7 hours
  • Distance remaining: 150km to Jasper


Saskatchewan River Crossing is more of a stop to make if you’re low on necessities. About halfway along the Icefields Parkway, it’s the only place where you’ll find a gas station and some options for food. The significance of this spot is clear: it’s where the mighty North Saskatchewan River, the Howse River and the Mistaya River meet.

Take a quick rest stop at the Saskatchewan River Crossing
The only place to get gas along the way - you don't want to run out!
© Chris Henry

6. Weeping Wall

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 27km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 19 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 15 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 110km
  • Total time travelled: 3.3 hours
  • Distance remaining: 123km to Jasper


Another shorter stop, the Weeping Wall can be seen on the side of the road without even leaving your car. It’s aptly named, as many tiny waterfalls cascading off the cliff makes it look like the mountain is crying. The main waterfall is even called Teardrop. It’s beautiful to see in the summer, but in the winter it’s at its best. As the waterfalls freeze, a wall of ice stands before you - which brings many climbers to the area to scale it!

The Weeping Wall is massive
Would you try climbing the ice in the winter?
© Steve Wiesner

7. Big Hill & Big Bend

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 9km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 8 minutes
  • Side of the road: N/A
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 0 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 119km
  • Total time travelled: 3.4 hours
  • Distance remaining: 114km to Jasper


You’ll know when you arrive at the Big Hill and Big Bend. Since it’s the actual road, you have to drive by them without even leaving your car. At the Big Hill, the descending road clings to the wall of a mountain and offers an expansive view of the valley, the river, and all the features that make the Icefields Parkway the most scenic drive in the world. The Big Bend is the famous hairpin turn that wraps in a circle below towering peaks. Keep driving and enjoy the view!

Get an expansive view of the valley below
© Jeffrey Comeau
Big Bend is the famous hairpin turn on the Icefields Parkway
© Floris Siegers

8. Parker Ridge

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 3km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 3 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 5km hike
  • Time to spend here: 180 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 122km
  • Total time travelled: 6.5 hours
  • Distance remaining: 111km to Jasper


This is the longest stop on our journey through the Icefields Parkway. In total, it’s a 5km hike. If you’re not up for a longer hike, skip it and continue on your way. But Parker Ridge is a must do for those who want a bit of elevation to take in a multitude of mountain ranges and the Saskatchewan Glacier - and you can definitely find a nice spot along the way for a picnic lunch.

It's time for a hike!
© Toomas Tartes
Take in the mountain ranges and glaciers
© Floris Siegers

9. Athabasca Glacier

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 9km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 7 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 1km hike
  • Time to spend here: 60 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 131km
  • Total time travelled: 7.6 hours
  • Distance remaining: 102km to Jasper


You definitely do not want to miss the Athabasca Glacier. One of the six principal 'toes' of the Columbia Icefield, it’s the most visited glacier in North America - and it’s absolutely huge. You can see it from the road, but it’s worth it to jump on the Athabasca Glacier trail to get almost right to its edge. If you want to hike onto the glacier you’ll need to book a tour with a proper guide for safety.

Find yourself right on the edge of the Athabasca Glacier
© Francisco Fajardo
This glacier is just as huge as it is breathtaking
© Ian Keefe

10. Glacier SkyWalk

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 2km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 2 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 60 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 131km
  • Total time travelled: 8.6 hours
  • Distance remaining: 102km to Jasper


A little nerve-wracking but well worth it - take a walk on the Glacier SkyWalk! This building is an incredible engineering feat, with glass floors 280 metres over the Sunwapta Valley. You’ll need to purchase a ticket from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre and take a short bus ride from there to the SkyWalk. When you’re ready to leave, simply take the bus back. If there’s one not-to-miss experience on this journey, it’s this!

The SkyWalk is an engineering feat that can hold the weight of a 747 plane
Would you brave the glass flooring over the Sunwapta Valley?
© Andy Holmes

11. Sunwapta Falls

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 49km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 35 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: 0km
  • Time to spend here: 15 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 180km
  • Total time travelled: 9.5 hours
  • Distance remaining: 53km to Jasper


It’s time to experience the powerful Sunwapta Falls along the Icefields Parkway. There is a large parking lot here next to the falls so no walking is necessary. Fed by the Athabasca Glacier, the Sunwapta falls are particularly impressive in the late spring and early summer when snow runoff is high. The drop is about 18 metres. We’re now only 53 kilometres from Jasper; it’s the home stretch!

The Sunwapta falls are particularly impressive in the late spring and early summer when snow runoff is high
© James Kody
The Sunwapta Falls have an impressive 18m drop
© Will Tarpey

Useful facts

12. Athabasca Falls

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 24km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 17 minutes
  • Side of the road: Left
  • Distance from the road: >1km
  • Time to spend here: 30 minutes
  • Total distance travelled: 204km
  • Total time travelled: 10.2 hours
  • Distance remaining: 29km to Jasper


The Athabasca Falls are impressive for the volume and force of the falling water, less for their height. Since they are so powerful, there are some pretty amazing rock formations that have developed over the years. The falls are easily accessible from the parking lot and there is a short trail you can walk over a bridge to the far side of the falls. In the winter the falls freeze over and look absolutely mesmerising.

The Athabasca Falls are impressive for the volume and force of the falling water
In the winter the falls freeze over and look absolutely mesmerising
© Floris Siegers

13. Jasper

  • Distance travelled from last stop: 29km
  • Time travelled since last stop: 28 minutes
  • Side of the road: N/A
  • Distance from the road: N/A
  • Time to spend here: N/A
  • Total distance travelled: 233km
  • Total time travelled: 10.7 hours
  • Distance remaining: 0km to Jasper


We’ve made it to Jasper! This is where our journey ends, and just in time for dinner. Following this route and adding in bathroom and snack breaks, you’ll likely arrive in Jasper around 6pm. Check into your accommodation, grab some drinks, and enjoy your first evening in this quaint town after an adventurous day.

The town of Jasper, from above
It's been a long and adventurous day on the Icefields Parkway!
© Joshua Woroniecki

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