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Icefields Parkway

AB-93, Alberta, Canada
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Icefields Parkway Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Road Trip Through the Canadian Rockies Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Glacial Glory Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Walking up to a glacier Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Icefields Parkway Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Road Trip Through the Canadian Rockies Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Glacial Glory Improvement District No. 9  Canada
Walking up to a glacier Improvement District No. 9  Canada

Road Trip Through the Canadian Rockies

The Icefield Parkway isn’t just a highway linking Lake Louise and Jasper, Alberta. It’s a 230-km road trip through the Canadian Rockies, past a series of emerald-green alpine lakes fed by nearby glaciers. The entire route connects Jasper and Banff national parks and traverses the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage site.

Heading south from Jasper, the first must-see landmark is Athabasca Falls. After that, the sights come one after the other, like the Endless Chain, Sunwapta Falls, the Athabasca Glacier, Waterfowl Lake, and Bow Summit. That’s just the tip of the Icefield, though, as there are hundreds of breathtaking sights.

The drive can take as little as three hours; however, it can also last for days. Throughout the summer there are a number of resorts along the route, along with a half-dozen campgrounds. The road is open throughout the winter, but there are no open services.

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AFAR Contributor
about 5 years ago

Glacial Glory

Not sure where to go from Glacier National Park, we decided to follow the advice of two Canadian residents whom we just met at a hostel in Montana. They insisted we follow Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. Streaming PRX on our satellite radio, we took in one of the most beautiful roads we had ever driven, which runs along the intricately carved Canadian Rockies and the most turquoise of turquoise lakes. The highway also claims one of the largest glaciers south of the Arctic Circle: Columbia Icefields. Visit soon while the frozen mass is still frozen.
AFAR Contributor
over 2 years ago

Icefields Parkway

When I asked the guide on the Collette Winter Wonderland trip how he would advise any traveler who had to choose between visiting Jasper and Banff, he ducked my question. Instead he said the one not-to-miss sight in the area is the Icefields Parkway, the 144-mile scenic highway that connects the two parks. I soon understood his answer. At every turn along this drive, you'll find vistas of soaring peaks, many capped with snow and ice year-round, beautiful valleys, and waterfalls, rushing in the summer and frozen into beautiful sculptures in the winter. There's a reason why this route has made so many lists of the world's most scenic drives.

John Newton traveled on Collette’s Canada’s Winter Wonderland tour as part of AFAR’s partnership with the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more on John’s journey, visit the USTOA blog.
about 5 years ago

Walking up to a glacier

The Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies is honestly the most beautiful drive in the world.

Towering peaks, glacial blue lakes and vast wilderness stretch out as far as the eye can see. Columbia Icefields is one of the parkway's many pit stops, found on the southern tip of the park along the border with Banff. Covering over 300 km2 , it is melting and receding into the mountains at an alarming rate.

Hop out of the car and after a short 15 minute hike through glacial morraine, this massive wall of ice and snow stands before you.

Words, photos, everything fails to describe its enormity and beauty. It's sad to think that sights like this won't be around forever.