Scenic Drive in Banff National Park

Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway: 232-km drive through the Canadian Rockies with glaciers, wildlife, and famous lakes.

Traversing the rugged core of the Canadian Rockies, the Icefields Parkway is a 232-kilometer (144-mile) stretch of double-lane highway connecting Jasper and Lake Louise. Known for its stunning vistas, it's a corridor of untouched wilderness home to ancient glaciers, turquoise lakes, and plenty of wildlife. Each twist and turn presents a new view of soaring peaks and valleys shaped by nature's relentless force.

The parkway, officially known as Highway 93 North, is more than just a road; it's a journey through a landscape that's been evolving for millions of years. It offers a chance to see the power of glaciers at the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest ice fields south of the Arctic Circle. Here, visitors can step onto the Athabasca Glacier or look into the deep Sunwapta Valley.

Wildlife spotting along the route is a peaceful experience, with opportunities to see bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and eagles in their natural setting. It's important to respect these animals from a distance, following local rules to ensure their protection and yours.

Stopping at the numerous lookouts and trails is important; Peyto Lake and Bow Summit offer some of the most photographed scenes in Canada. Hiking lovers will find many trails ranging from easy walks to more demanding climbs. The parkway isn't just for summer visits; in winter, it turns into a snowy landscape perfect for ice climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing.

Cultural elements are part of the parkway’s identity, with the indigenous history felt at places like the Weeping Wall and Mistaya Canyon. The region's history includes stories of explorers, traders, and the resilient spirit of those who live in the mountains.

Visiting the Icefields Parkway requires planning; services are scarce, and weather conditions can change quickly. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition, carry emergency kits, and look at travel advisories. Plan stops for gas and food, as the few facilities add to the remote nature of the area but mean visitors need to be independent.

Accessibility on the parkway is dependent on the season; while open all year, snow can cause closures in winter. A Parks Canada pass is needed for travel, which helps conservation efforts. Take the journey slowly, allowing time for unexpected discoveries and the enjoyment of the fresh mountain air.

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