The Icefields Parkway is definitely one of Canada’s most well known drives. I’m sure you have seen photos of it, if you haven’t done the drive yourself yet. I have done this drive quite a few times and prefer to drive it from Jasper to Banff, but whatever way you do it, you will be blessed with the most incredible mountain views and hopefully some amazing wildlife too.
The first place to stop along the way is Athabasca Falls. This is a super busy pitstop though so either go really early in the day or be prepared for a ton of people to be there with you! I personally hate crowds which means I force anyone who is travelling with me to be up at (or before) the crack of dawn! That being said, I find being up early gives you a better chance of seeing wildlife and definitely gives you a chance to see a beautiful mountain sunrise. We didn’t get the sunrise because our entire trip was overcast and rainy, but we did see a pretty huge grizzly bear just as we were pulling out onto the open road! I didn’t get photos because I didn’t want to chase him, but the sight of him will always be in my mind! This was a particularly exciting thing for my Czech friends as they had never seen a bear outside of a zoo before.
The next big place to stop along the drive (aside from every single 10 feet where you want to stop and take yet another photo…or is it just me?) is Athabasca Glacier. This is another place that is filled with people. If you want to go onto the actual glacier, you have to pay for a tour. If you happen to visit during the winter months, then there are a lot less people and you can pretty much explore as much as you like.
After stopping at Athabasca Glacier we got out and explored Sunwapta Falls, Peyto Lake and Bow Lake. These are all beautiful places to stop, get out for a walk and take in the incredible views.
As always, I wish we had more time to do some hiking and explore hidden trails that aren’t so popular in the park. But it was a beautiful day filled with excellent memories, mountains and road trip tunes!
This year all the National Parks in Canada are free to visit (Yay for 150 years, Canada!) so I definitely plan to spend more time in the parks if I can swing it!
Have you done the drive through the Icefields Parkway before? What if your favourite place to explore along the way?