The Icefields Parkway

Experience the awesome power of iconic sights in the Canadian Rockies

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The spectacular 233km (140-mile) journey through the heart of the Canadian Rockies will have you waving the Canadian flag. It’s a must-do on anyone’s Canadian bucket list. The Icefields Parkway is nirvana for those hankering for views of awe-inspiring mountains. You will find yourself immersed in a remote and magical landscape with a vast wilderness of mountains, lakes, glaciers and valleys.

This is mountain country. You need a national park pass to travel on this mountain road that winds through the backbone of the continent.

Purchase passes at Jasper Park Information Centre.

Then relax and drive into gobsmacking, jaw-dropping drop-dead gorgeous natural scenery. 

You’ll soon see why driving the Icefields Parkway is one of the top things to do in Canada

The Columbia Icefield covers 215 square kilometres of solid ice estimated to be up to 365m (1200 feet) deep. 

You can’t lose on your departure point for this Great Canadian Road Trip either.

The Icefields Parkway sits between two of Canada’s finest national parks, Banff and Jasper.

From the iconic Lake Louise in Banff National Park to the splendour of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park, get ready to be blown away!

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Clockwise from top left: Mount Columbia (Photo: Johannes Hohn); Glacier Skywalk, Columbia Icefields (Photo: Brewster Travel Canada); Alberta (Photo: Julian Apse); Tangle Ridge, Icefields Parkway (Photo: Parks Canada/Caroline Roy)

Colossal rugged peaks wrapped in prehistoric ice and endless valleys that unfold one after another where nothing but wildlife roam free.

That kind of says it all.

Here are unforgettable Icefields Parkway attractions you won’t want to miss:

The Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway Attractions

1- The Ice Age Adventure

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Columbia Icefield Glacier (Photos: Brewster Travel Canada)

Drink the freshest mountain water in the world.

How do you do this?

Hop aboard a local tour operator like Brewster Travel Canada and its Ice Explorer.

These monster all-terrain vehicles will get you onto the Athabasca Glacier where you can walk safely atop a 10,000-year-old sheet of ice that is six-kilometre long and one kilometre wide.

The Ice Age Adventure experience has been around since 1892 is declared a Signature Experience by the Canadian Government’s Destination Canada.  

Insiders say the fallen snow there is older than Canada with estimates of the frozen powder dating back 200 years ago.

Tours depart from the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre on the Icefields Parkway.

2- Columbia Icefields Skywalk

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Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefields skywalk (Photos: Brewster Travel Canada) are amazing experiences on the Icefields Parkway.

Another must-do on this bucket list trip is to take to the cliff-edge walk interpretive trail.


So you can walk onto the clear glass-floored observation platform suspended 280m above the valley.

It helps that the thick glass observatory is a U-shape and looks like a lucky horseshoe.

Located in Jasper National Park, The Glacier Discovery Centre is at the Athabasca Glacier.

You’ll get an adrenaline rush knowing your feet are firmly standing on a glass platform separating you from the rocky bottom below.

To get here, it’s easy.

Pack your confidence, take your binoculars and trek along the Discovery Trail, which is a cliff-edge walkway along the Sunwapta Valley.

If you’re brave and don’t suffer from vertigo, look down to see the ancient terra firma.

Upwards, however, is the stunning money shot, a vista of endless ice-capped mountains. 

This Glacier Skywalk is another mind-blowing tour Destination Canada ranks among its Canadian Signature Experiences

3- Cycle the Icefields Parkway

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Clockwise from top left: Jasper to Banff Bike Tour (Photo: Mountain Madness Tours), Banff National Park (Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka), Jasper to Banff Bike Tour (Photo: Mountain Madness Tours), Bow Valley Parkway, Banff National Park (Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka)

Be prepared for a cycler’s dream tour. One local tour operator has pegged the trip as “the inn to inn Jasper cycler’s trip.”

Rocky Mountain Cycle Tours gets cyclists into the groove as bikers pedal past breathtaking mountain scenery found only there.

The route follows the Icefields Parkway between the historic towns of Banff and Jasper. The big deal here is seeing the two extraordinary mountain passes known as Sunwapta and Bow. 

The Bow Summit is also considered the highest elevation along the parkway, teetering at 2133m above sea level.

4- Bow Lake sunrise

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Wonders of the Icefields Parkway. From top clockwise: Bow Lake (Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka), Peyto Lake (Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka), Maligne Lake (Photo: Tourism Jasper)

Watching the sunrise at Bow Lake in Banff National Park is a breathtaking sight. 

The summit is the highest peak in the Icefields Parkway but even if you don’t make the sunrise, anytime is a good time to view this natural wonder.

It’s also less crowded than the tourist favourite, Lake Louise.

5- Peyto Lake Hike

Watch how the sun dips below the mountains at this aqua-marine blue glacial-fed lake.

This spectacular nature experience is one of the highlights of the journey along the Icefields Parkway.

Many insiders swear Peyto Lake is ‘the’ most visited and photographed lake in the Canadian Rockies.

We agree.

Once you see the bright turquoise water, you will instinctively yell, “Wow!!”

6- Moraine Lake

Not far from Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is another stunning blue lake that glistens like a jewel.

The lake’s bright blue hue is due to its glacier waters full fine rock particles that refracts light.

The best time to visit the lake is between October and June when the water isn’t frozen.

There are plenty of outdoor attractions in Moraine Lake, including canoeing or kayaking around the lake, biking and winter activities such as dog sledding and snowshoeing. 

Lake Moraine has several scenic hikes, including the Rockpile Trail, which leads to one of the most scenic views in the region, so stunning it’s featured on the Canadian $20 note. 

7- Athabasca Falls

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Left to right: Athabasca Falls (Photo: Jared Chambers), Athabasca Falls (Destination Canada).

Drive past the prominent peak of Mount Edith Cavell and stop at the Athabasca Falls.  

The falls can be admired from several viewing platforms and walking trails around the falls.

You can get to the Athabasca Falls from the parking area off Highway 93A.

7- Take a motorcycle road trip

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Columbia Icefield Parkway Tour in a Sidecar (Photos supplied by: Jasper Motorcycle Tours & Tourism Jasper)

Glaciers and waterfalls are accessible while on a motorcycle road trip.

Local tour operator Jasper Motorcycle Tours offers passengers an unforgettable sidecar motorcycle tour along the legendary Icefields Parkway deep into the Jasper National Park.  

9- Athabasca River whitewater rafting

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Another amazing experience on the Icefields Parkway. Above Photos: Jasper National Park (Photos: Tourism Jasper); Below Photos: Columbia Icefields (Photo: Travel Alberta/Sean Thomson); Bow Falls, Banff National Park (Photo: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka)At the bottom of Athabasca Falls along Class 2 whitewater rapids, the Athabasca River delivers thrills and views.

Whitewater rafting tours start in Jasper. 

Expect to be dazzled on a 1.5-hour rafting trip through canyons.

The star attraction is the Athabasca Falls of course.

Outfitters provide wetsuits and gear for this 15km river romp.

The Athabasca Falls has an impressive volume and force of water.

10- Athabasca Falls Hike

Okay – so you don’t find the white water rafting part appealing?

Go on a hike and enjoy the breathtaking views. There are marked paved trails, viewing platforms and a bridge.

Stand in the spray, hands extended and close your eyes as you hear the sounds of the powerful forces of the misty water ahead of you.

The river’s source is the Columbia Icefields Glacier.

Watching the volume of water flow is mesmerising beyond belief.

Tip: Get there early in the morning or around dinner time when the crowds are smaller.

It is a very popular scenic spot along the Icefields Parkway.

11- Jasper Skytram

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Left to right: Jasper Tramway (Photo: Julian Apse), Jasper Tramway (Photo: Tourism Jasper)

Get a whole new perspective of the Canadian Rockies on the Jasper Skytram.

This gondolier experience is truly one-of-a-kind. In seven minutes (that’s how long it takes to complete the ride), you will enjoy some of the finest views without having to exert yourself.

Just sit back, listen to the fully narrated tour guide point out cool factoids and scenic areas as you snap the postcard-perfect photos.

But when you reach the summit at 2,277m (that’s the height of five CN Towers stacked on top of each other), you’ll swear you want to try the head-turning ride again.

Where to stay while exploring the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is an iconic Canadian road trip between Jasper National Park and Banff National Park.  A couple of great places to stay in Alberta are Skoki Lodge and Num Ti Jah Lodge. 

The Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway