• Claire

Driving the Icefields Parkway - Canadian Rockies | The Most Spectacular Drive!

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

It's not surprising that the Icefields Parkway has been dubbed by National Geographic as one the world's most spectacular drives. The 227km of mountain road joins Jasper National Park and Lake Louise in Banff National Park. I've never said "wow" out loud so many times than when driving the Icefields Parkway! Around every corner was jaw-dropping scenery - glaciers, waterfalls, lakes and valleys and plenty of scenic stops, picnic spots and hiking tails along the way.



The Icefields Parkway was built to almost parallel the Continental Divide - many say a drive on the Parkway is like driving on the backbone of the North American Continent. There are so many must-see stops along the way, you could easily spend a couple days visiting every lookout and doing every hike - we followed this map as we travelled from Jasper to Lake Louise:


Icefields Parkway Map, Source: Parks Canada


I drove the Icefields Parkway with two of my friends during our 12 Day Canadian Rockies Road Trip. We had hired a car in Vancouver and driven to Jasper NP over the course of a few days via Whistler and Kamloops. We began our drive down the Icefields Parkway in Jasper en route to our hostel at the end of the Parkway in Lake Louise. We set out early from our hostel in Jasper, just after sunrise as we wanted to make the most of the day.






Our first stop was the Athabasca Pass Lookout which offers a panoramic view of Athabasca Pass and the surrounding huge mountains.


Athabasca Pass Lookout

Athabasca Pass Lookout





Athabasca Falls is the most powerful waterfall in the Canadian Rockies. It is really spectacular, but my favourite part was walking down stream to the beautiful Athabasca river where it was really peaceful.


Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca River

Athabasca River





Glaciers always manage to take my breath away, and lucky enough the Icefields Parkway is full of them. Stutfield Glacier is one of the glaciers that feeds off the Columbia Icefield and stretches down 914 meters of the face of the cliff.


Stutfield Glacier

Stutfield Glacier

Stutfield Glacier



The Columbia Icefield is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies as it covers 230 square kilometers. It is a major attraction of the Icefields Parkway - many companies offer off-road 'ice explorer' bus tours onto the Athabasca glacier, but we opted to admire its beauty from down below.


Columbia Icefield

Columbia Icefield

Columbia Icefield


The Athabasca Glacier is so incredibly breathtaking, and was unlike anything I've ever seen before. But sadly, its receding at a rapid rate of 5 meters per year - an effect of the increasingly warming climate (global warming).


Columbia Icefield

Athabasca Glacier - Columbia Icefield

Athabasca Glacier - Columbia Icefield







I've been to a lot of lakes while in Canada (Canada has over 35,000 of them), but Peyto Lake has definitely been my favourite. The water was an insane bright blue and the surrounding mountains made for such an epic view.


Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake






Our last stop for the day was the beautiful Hector Lake. Even though it was beginning to become slightly overcast, the water was still an amazing bright blue colour.


Hector Lake

Hector Lake



227kms and around 9 hours later we arrived at the little town of Lake Louise and to our hostel. There were a heap of other stop-offs, picnic areas and hiking trails on the Icefields Parkway, but unfortunately we couldn't see it all as we only had one day! Nevertheless, the Icefields Parkway was the absolute highlight of my Canadian Rockies road-trip - the scenery was just absolutely stunning.


Lake Louise


Check out my other adventures in Canada here!