Icefields Parkway Banff & Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
The 227 kilometer mountain road, built almost parallel to the continental divide, passes through Banff National Park and Jasper National park. Named after the Columbia Icefield and the numerous other glaciers found along the route, Icefields parkway is also known as Highway 93 (Alberta 93). From TransCanada/Highway 93 interchange, the first 122 kilometers of the Icefields parkway passes through Banff National Park and the rest of the parkway through Jasper National Park. The parkway completed in 1940, winds through rugged mountains, glaciers, river valleys and pristine alpine lakes. It is one of the best scenic routes in Canadian Rockies.
What to do in Icefields Parkway?
Enjoy the sheer beauty of the mountain scenery with river valleys, snow capped rugged peaks, rivers and creeks.
Picnic at the many scenic spots found along the parkway.
Go for hikes and experience the forested river valleys and glacial lakes.
Discover Columbia Icefield on your own or with Brewster Glacier Adventure. Go for Glacial skywalk.
See the wildlife like bighorn sheep,black bear, caribou, elk, moose, mountain goats, grizzly bears, and wolf.
Bike along the route from Banff to Jasper enjoying the magnificent landscapes.
Fishing along Icefields Parkway : National parks fishing license required. Hector Lake, Chephren Lake , Cirque Lake ,Mosquito Creek, North Saskatchewan River, Peyto Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Valley of five Lakes, Athabasca river, Hardisty Creek, Beauty Creek, Sunwapta river & Whirlpool river are some of the fishing spots along Icefields parkway. See Alberta fishing guide for bait bans, season and other regulations.
Canoe in Honeymoon Lake.
Snow shoe along many trails, ice climb at the weeping wall and cross country ski in winter.
Icefields Parkway Attractions / Lakes / Waterfalls
Description of sights, attractions, lakes, waterfalls and glaciers along the Icefields parkway. Must see spots highlighted in bold.
Icefields Parkway Map – Points of Interest.
Use street view, near the points of interest to preview the views along roadside pullout points.
View Ice Fields Parkway Map – Viewpoints in a larger map
1. Herbert Lake (3kms from TransCanada Interchange)
Stop at this viewpoint to see Herbert Lake, formed by glaciers during ice age, backdropped by Waputik range and Mount Temple.
2. Hector Lake Viewpoint (16 kms from Lake Louise/ TransCanada Junction)
Enjoy the beauty of this turquoise green Lake, which is the largest natural lake in Banff National Park. The lake is in the valley formed by Crowfoot Mountain of Waputik range. For the next two kilometers, you will be traveling almost parallel to the lake, with glimpses of the Lake through the trees.
3.Crowfoot Glacier (~33 kms from junction)
Appreciate the this glacier,on the Crowfoot mountain. Crowfoot glacier was shaped like 3 toes of a crow, clinging to the side of the steep mountain when it was named in the early 1900s. Due to climate change, the toes have melted and now it barely reaches over the cliff edge.
4. Bow Lake (~34 km from TransCanada junction)
Revel in the pristine beauty of Bow Lake , which was created by retreating glaciers. Enjoy a picnic at the day use area and treat yourselves with the view presented by with snow capped mountain peaks reflected in the Bow lake.
Park at the parking lot (turn off at left side as you travel north towards Jasper), and hike the paved road to Peyto lake, named for Bill Peyto. Donot forget to hike up the paved short road to the Peyto Lake viewpoint. Enjoy this stunning view of the lake with its amazing green hue which changes according to seasons. Click on the link for more information about the lake.
6. Snowbird Glacier (~48 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Snowbird glacier is on Mt Patterson across the Mistaya Lake. At the pullout, the view of the glacier is partially obstructed by the trees.
7. Waterfowl Lakes, Mts. Chephren and Howse Viewpoint (~56 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Park at the pullout, and walk the short trail on the northern end of the pullout to the Waterfowl Lake. Mt Chephren and Mt Howse is in the background of the lake. Trails around Waterfowl lakes provide good opportunity to view wildlife.
8. Upper Waterfowl Lakes (~61 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Continuing from the first pullout, one reaches the scenic drive along the Upper Waterfowl lake . Stop at the view and appreciate the exhilarating scenery.
9. Howse and Mistaya River Valleys (~76 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Just before reaching the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11), almost a kilometre after the bridge over Saskatchewan River crossing, stop for the beautiful view of Howse and Mistaya River joining the North Saskatchewan River with Mount Outram & Mount Forbes in the background.
10. Mount Amery & Mount Saskatchewan (~90 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Enjoy the view of North Saskatchewan River Valley framed by Mount Amery & Mount Saskatchewan.
11. Weeping wall (~106 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Stop at this pull out to see a series of small streams of water, tumbling 300 ft down the steep slopes of Cirrus Mountain. Lower weeping wall is an ice climbing spot in winter.
12. North Saskatchewan River, Cirrus Mountain Viewpoint (~112.5 km from Trans Canada Junction)
The viewpoint after the bigbend, shows view to the valley with North Saskatchewan River on one side and Cirrus Mountain on the other.
13. Bridel Veil Falls (~113 km from Trans Canada Junction)
A plaque points to the thin white water fall tumbling down the steep mountain face across the valley at this pullout.
5 kms after the boundary demarcating the Jasper and Banff park boundaries, one will reach the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre on the right and the trail to Columbia Icefield (Athabasca glacier) to the the right. Hike up the trail to the toe of the glacier. Explore the glacier gallery in the Icefield centre. Replenish at the Columbia Cafe or the Glacier dining room. The newest attraction, Glacier Skywalk, is situated near Columbia Icefield.
15. Sunwapta Canyon Lookout (~131 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Panoramic view of the Sunwapta Canyon. One can also see the accumulation of glacial debris left by Dome Glacier.
16. Tangle Falls (~132 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Viewpoint for the waterfall that cascades down the rocky cliffs of Tangle ridge. Keep the eye open for this falls, as you may miss it, when traveling north to Jasper. Ice climbing spot in winter.
17. Stutfield glacier (~135 km from Trans Canada Junction)
View of the Stuttfield Glacier (named after Hugh Stutfield, explorer ), clinging to the majestic Stuttfield mountain, can be seen above the trees. The valley, near the pullout, is filled with glacial accumulation left behind by the glacier.
18. Mushroom and Diadem Peaks (~145 km from Trans Canada Junction)
From Stuttfield glacier lookout, the icefield parkway travels parallel to Sunwapta river and along the way there is a pullout for Beauty Creek trail head. Diadem peak and Mushroom peak pullout is about 3 kms from Beauty creek pullout. Situated in the Sunwapta River Valley, Mushroom & Diadem peaks can be seen towering over the trees. Endless chain range is seen on the North.
The Sunwapta river which ran parallel to the parkway, tumbles down into a deep canyon. Walk along the trail and appreciate the beauty of the falls. Cross the bridge and see the falls at its best. Ice climbing spot in winter. Click on title for more details.
20. Mount Fryatt (~192 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Located in Athabasca river valley, Mount Fryatt is one of the highest peaks in Alberta. The rugged pyramid shaped peak, named after Captain Charles Fryatt, can be seen to the south of the pullout.
21. Goats & Glaciers Lookout (~192 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Also known as ‘Mineral Lick’, this lookout point offers views of mountain goats on Mount Kerkeslin and river bank filled with glacial deposits in the foreground. The goats can be seen grazing along the mineral deposits searching for glacial salts.
22. Athabasca Falls(~200 km from Trans Canada Junction)
The wide Athabasca river travels through a narrow gorge forcing large quantities of water to fall over hard quartzite ridges to form the 23 m picturesque waterfall.
23. Mount Hardisty, Mount Edith Cavell and Athabasca Pass Lookout (~206 km from Trans Canada Junction)
Pullout view point with plaques pointing to the majestic peaks of Mount Hardisty, Mount Edith Cavell and Athabasca pass.
Icefields Parkway Hikes
Trailheads on the map.
1. Hector Lake. 2. Helen and Katherine Lakes 3. Dolomite Pass 4. Bow Glacier Falls. 5. Bow Summit. 6. Chephren Lake, Cirque Lake Hike 7. Sarbach Lookout, Howse Pass 8. Mistaya Canyon 9. Glacier Lake 10. Sunset Pass and Sunset Lookout. 11. Alexandra Trail. 12. Castleguard Meadows 13. Thompson Pass. 14. Saskatchewan Glacier 15. Nigel Pass. 16. Parker Ridge. 17. Sunwapta Pass. 18. Wilcox Creek 19. Beauty Creek. 20. Buck Lake & Osprey Lake 21. Horse shoe lake 22. Wabasso Lakes. 23. Valley of five lakes
You may be interested in Attractions in Banff National Park.
When to go to Icefields Parkway?
Open Year round.
Icefields Parkway in Winter & Closure
Make sure that the gas tank is full, and you should be prepared for the real winter driving. Vehicles should be equipped with winter tires and emergency gear.
Icefields parkway will be closed only due to heavy winter storm and other weather related issues like mudslides & flooding.
Columbia Icefields Centre is closed during winter (mid October to mid April).
Icefields Parkway Winter Camps
Mosquito Creek Campground & Wapiti Campground . Tenting permitted at Wilcox Pass Trailhead (unmaintained & bivy permit required-$9.80)
Icefields Parkway weather – here
How much does it cost to drive through Icefields Parkway?
Icefields Parkway fees / admission/prices
Included in Banff/Jasper National Park admission.
Adult: $ 9.80; Senior: $ 8.30; Youth: $ 4.90.
Family (upto 7 people in one vehicle): $ 19.60
How long will it take to drive Icefields Parkway?
3.5 hours without stopping to a full day, with stops to enjoy the scenery and do few hikes.
For cycling , try to allocate 7 days and travel from Banff to Jasper, as Jasper is at a lower elevation (~ 500 m) than Banff.
Sundog tours offers Icefield Parkway tours, ( 4 person minimum required ) with a total duration of 6-12 hours.
Icefields Parkway Accommodations
Icefield Parkway Campgrounds* Verify all rates, operating hours from Parks Canada Website.
1. Mosquito Creek Campground
32 sites for RV’s & tents with dry toilet facility. Open from June 7 – Sept 30. Fees:$17.60. Fire wood usuage for a fee of $8.80. Fee :$17.60
2. Water fowl Lake Campground
Located 57 kms north of Lake Louise, Water fowl Lake Campground has 116 sites and 3 dry toilet facilities. In addition, there are picnic shelters, 1 washroom with hot and cold running water and flush toilets. Fees : $21.50
3. Rampart Creek Campground
50 unserviced sites with dry toilet facility. Open from June 7 – Sept 30. Fees:$17.60. Fire wood usuage for a fee of $8.80. Fee: $17.60
4. Wilcox Creek Campground
46 sites for recreational vehicles and tents . Services include water, dry toilets, cooking shelter, picnic tables and firewood.Fees: $15.70
5. Columbia Ice Field Campground
Two separate campgrounds for RVs & tents. RV campground at Icefield centre has around 100 sites and Tent sites around 33.
RV Campground has only dry toilets with no other services, while tent campground has cooking shelter, dry toilets,water and fire wood. Fees: $15.70
6. Jonas Creek Campground
Around 25 primitive sites suited for tenting, RVs and trailers under 27 feet. Services include cooking shelters, water, dry toilets & fire pits. Fees: $15.70
7. Honeymoon Lakes Campground
35 unserviced sites for tents, and RVs and trailers under 25 feet. Services include public pay phone, water, dry toilets, picnic tables , sheltered cooking shelter , firewood and Canoe Launch. Fees: $15.70
8. Mount Kerkeslin Campground
42 un-serviced sites for tents, and RVs and trailers under 25 feet. Services include public pay phone, water, dry toilets, picnic tables , sheltered cooking shelter, firewood and canoe launch. Fees 15.70
9. Wapiti Campground
362 sites in the summer, and 93 winter camping spots . Services include firewood, cooking shelters, electrical hookups (86), hot showers and flush toilets. Accommodates most RVs & motor homes. Fees: $ 27.40 & $32.30
10. Whistler Campground
781 sites with firewood, cooking shelters, electrical hookups (126), hot showers, flush toilets and play ground for kids.Accommodates RVs & motor homes. Fees : $22.50 to $38.20 depending on the Campsite.
Accessibilty : There are two paved sites, each with adapted picnic tables and fireboxes. Wheelchair-accessible showers available.
Cottage tents are available at Whistler for $90.00
Icefields Parkway Hostels
1. HI-Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel
Closed every Tuesday from October 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016
Closed April 18, 2016 to May 5, 2016
2. HI-Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel
Schedule: Year round
Closed every Thursday from October 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016
Closed April 4, 2016 to April 28, 2016
3. HI-Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel
4. HI-Beauty Creek Wilderness Hostel
Closed October 12, 2015 to May 13, 2016 (Key access available during this time).
5. HI-Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel
Everyday from May 1 to September 30.
Closed November 2, 2015 to November 26, 2015
Closed every Tuesday from November 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016
Icefield Parkway Lodges/Inns/Resorts
About 25 rooms. Coffee shop & Dining room.
Operating Season : Summer.
About 66 rooms. Cafe,Dining Rooms, & Pub.
General store & motor service station.
Rates : $89.00+
About 52 rooms. Restaurant & Deli.
Operating Season:Early May to Early October.
Rates : $139.00 +
4. Glacier View Inn: Located in the second floor of Columbia Icefields Centre.
About 29 rooms. Restaurant
Operating Season: Mid April to Mid October.
Rates : $199 +
Single log cabins to family chalets. Restaurant.
Operating Season: May – Early October
Rates : $120.00 and up
Icefields Parkway Amenities
Picnic Sites at Bow Lake, Coleman Creek, Mount Christie, Bubbling Springs, Athabasca falls.
Gas station and general store at Crossing Resort located at David Thompson highway junction.(Fill up here,if required, as there is none till Jasper).
Wash rooms /Restrooms/ Dry toilets available en-route.