IceFields Parkway

Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada


Year Round

Icefields Parkway Banff & Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Icefields parkway

Icefields parkway

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?

Icefields parkway

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.

5. Peyto Lake (~ 40 km from TransCanada junction)

Icefields parkway

Peyto Lake, Icefields parkway

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)

Icefields parkway

Icefields parkway

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.

14. Columbia Icefield & Columbia Icefield centre (~127 km from Trans Canada Junction)

Icefields Parkway

Athabasca Glacier Columbia Icefield

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.

19. Sunwapta Falls (176 km from the TransCanada junction)

sunwapta falls Icefields parkway Jasper

sunwapta falls Icefields parkway Jasper

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

Icefields parkway

Athabasca falls

No road maintenance from November to April | 3:30 pm to 7:00 am. Check road conditions from AMA. Phone : Banff : 403-762-1450 & Jasper : 780-852-3311. Parks Canada winter advisory brochure here.

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.

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.

Banff National Park area - Icefield Park: Details

Icefields parkway

Bridel Veil Falls

1. Mosquito Creek Campground

32 sites for RV's & tents with dry toilet facility. Open from June - Sept.

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.

3. Rampart Creek Campground

50 unserviced sites with dry toilet facility. Open from June - Sept.

Jasper National Park Campground Details

4. Wilcox Creek Campground

46 sites for recreational vehicles and tents . Services include water, dry toilets, cooking shelter, picnic tables and firewood.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Accessibility : 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

sunwapta falls Icefields parkway Jasper

Sunwapta falls Icefields parkway Jasper

1. HI-Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel

2. HI-Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel

3. HI-Hilda Creek Wilderness Hostel

4. HI-Beauty Creek Wilderness Hostel

5. HI-Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel

Icefield Parkway Lodges/Inns/Resorts

1. Simpson's Num-Ti-Jah Lodge

About 25 rooms. Coffee shop & Dining room.

Operating Season : Summer.

2.The Crossing Resort

About 66 rooms. Cafe,Dining Rooms, & Pub.

General store & motor service station.

3. Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge

About 52 rooms. Restaurant & Deli.

Operating Season:Early May to Early October.

4. Glacier View Inn: Located in the second floor of Columbia Icefields Centre.

About 29 rooms. Restaurant

Operating Season: Mid April to Mid October.

5. Becker's Chalets

Single log cabins to family chalets. Restaurant.

Operating Season: May - Early October

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.

Posted in Activities, Cruises, Hikes & Scenic Drives and Nature

3 Tips for your trip!

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  1. Patricia Hyde-Snider

    While hiking in the North Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Glacier area we stumbled upon an old paved road with what looked to be a road to somewhere now abandoned complete with old vehicles, old Spork cans and other detritus from a long ago time. I would like to know something about the history of this location. We stopped for a short look and spent two days exploring. It was beautiful and intriguing and we hope to go back again next year and spend longer.

    August 24, 2014 at 4:57 AM
  2. Mathew Hart

    The old road and Saskatchewan glacier hut was built by U.S. Army’s 87th division which used to test vehicles over snow and ice in 1930 – 40s. The original building collapsed during 1940s. Canadian Army Engineers rebuilt it and used for training Lovat Scouts. After that, it was turned over to Alpine Club of Canada. The hut was located on the south bank of the stream originating from the Glacier. The road that led to the hut was washed away by floods. After it was rarely used.
    Reference: Summits & Icefields 1: Alpine Ski Tours in the Canadian Rockies
    By Chic Scott

    August 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM
    1. Patricia Hyde-Snider

      Thank you so much for the information/ I am going to order the Summits and Icefields book. There is so much beauty and history to learn about our corner of the world I don’t know why people travel elsewhere.

      August 25, 2014 at 2:41 PM

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