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15 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Jasper

15 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Jasper

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Calgary and Jasper are both beautiful destinations with so much to do! But if you’re making the road trip from Calgary to Jasper, you have got to check out these 15 amazing stops along your way. I can assure you, the journey is going to be just as magical as the destinations in this case! And, of course, this road trip can be done in reverse from Jasper to Calgary as well.

Truthfully, this road trip could be done in less than a day’s time. But I recommend extending this adventure over a week (heck, make it two if you can!).

Throughout this blog post, I’ll fill you in not just on the best stops on the drive from Calgary to Jasper, but also what to do at each of the stops, helpful tips, and even accommodation and rental car suggestions! By the time you’re done reading this post, you’re going to be ready to hit the road!

About the Drive from Calgary to Jasper

The drive from Calgary to Jasper is 413 kilometers long (257 miles) and travels through some of the most beautiful places to visit in all of Alberta. You will pass through Banff and Lake Louise before making your way along the Icefields Parkway – one of the most scenic stretches of road in the entire world!

Honestly, this is one epic road trip, one I’m sure you’re going to be blown away by.

There are a few things to know before you hit the road though. First of all, you’re going to need a Parks Canada Pass. This pass will allow you to explore some of the best stops as you drive from Calgary to Jasper through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The pass costs $20 CAD per day for a vehicle or $145 for an entire year. Cheaper passes are available for those traveling solo. You can buy your pass online in advance or at the booth when entering Banff National Park just outside of Canmore.

You should also take extra care if you plan on driving this route in the winter months. You’ll need winter tires and you should always check for road closures before you leave. During really bad weather conditions, the Icefields Parkway will close from time to time.

I also suggest that you pack some food, water, and fill up with gas before you leave Calgary. Gas prices are much higher in the national parks, and while you probably will have to fuel up at some point during the road trip, starting off with a full tank of gas will be beneficial. Also, food options are extremely limited once you pass Lake Louise, so having a few snacks with you is wise.

21 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Jasper

1. Calgary

view of Calgary skyline in the summer
Calgary really is a beautiful city.

Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and home to a large international airport – so it really is a popular place to begin any Alberta road trip. Many people land at the Calgary Airport before heading to Banff and other popular destinations in Alberta.

Despite being a major city in the plains, Calgary has a variety of fun things to do. In fact, the city’s position provides it a leg up on the competition. It is home to a huge international airport as well as being on the brink of the Rocky Mountains. As a result, Calgary has become a popular port of entry in Canada and a great spot to start your tour of the Canadian Rockies!

So, since you’re going to be in town, you may as well spend some time seeing the city and take advantage of the city’s lower lodging costs than the adjacent Rocky Mountain resorts.

Calgary is especially a sight to see in the winter. While they may be cold, you’re still likely to have plenty of sunny days! Calgary actually has the most days of sunshine out of any Canadian city at 333 days a year! Even if you’re trying to dodge the cold or rain, there are plenty of fun indoor activities to keep you busy!

One of my favorite indoor activities is the Calgary Tower. You get the best city views, plus it’s the highest 360-degree observation deck in the world! I also recommend grabbing a bite at Sky 360, their revolving restaurant.

You can’t talk about Calgary without mentioning the Calgary Zoo. It’s open year-round and has nearly 1,000 different animals and exhibits. If you want to see something extra adorable, make sure you’re there at 10 am to witness the penguin walk! It’s literally the penguins taking a 15-minute walk through the zoo for their daily workout.

2. The Kananaskis

Bailey poses for a photo at Upper Kananaskis Lake
Me at Upper Kananaskis Lake!

The Kananaskis, often referred to as Alberta’s Mountain Playground, has plenty to see and do! It’s very easy to spend a few days touring this area.

The Kananaskis Region starts west of Calgary as you make your way towards Canmore. It’s important to note that many of the best attractions in the Kananaskis are a detour from the direct route from Calgary to Jasper, so be sure to plan for that.

The following are some of the best things to do in Kananaskis:

  • Troll Falls Hike — Troll Falls is a 90-minute hike that leads to a waterfall. The waterfall is frozen in the winter and appears equally as beautiful! It is advisable that you bring ice cleats or spikes if you are visiting in the winter.
  • Upper Kananaskis Lake — it’s a huge, picturesque lake surrounded by sweeping mountain vistas, woodlands, hiking paths, and ski lines. Regardless of the season, there is lots to do and see at this lake.
  • Nakiska Ski Area — Located in the Kananaskis Valley, Nakiska Ski Area is one of the most affordable resorts in the Rocky Mountains, as well as one of the best locations to ski near Banff. It’s a full-size ski resort with a verticle fall of 735 meters (2,411 feet) and a 3.3-km (2-mile) longest run.
  • Kananaskis Nordic Spa – This is one of the most exquisite spas in the Rocky Mountains, with access to the Hydrotherapy cycle (Five Pools), the Eucalyptus Steam Room, Alchemist Steam Room, Finnish Sauna, Banyan & Barrel Saunas, and the Exfoliation Cabin starting at $119 CAD.

Important note: All vehicles stopping in parks or public areas in Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley Corridor requires a Conservation Pass. Buy a daily pass online for $15 CAD or in person at any Kananaskis Visitor Information Center.

3. Canmore

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
View overlooking Canmore from Ha Ling Peak.

Canmore is one of Alberta’s best mountainside tourist towns. But unlike Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, Canmore isn’t actually located within one of Canada’s National Parks – making it cheaper and more accessible for everyone.

Sitting on the edge of Banff National Park, Canmore boasts some of Canada’s most impressive mountain peaks and is an outdoor playground for visitors. On top of that, the town is lively and filled with amazing cafes, restaurants, and stores.

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Canmore on several occasions. In fact, we also recently lived in Canmore for a couple of months (I know, lucky us!) So, we know all of the best things to do in Canmore, which include:

  • Visit the local breweries – Canmore is one of the best places to try amazing craft beer and there are lots of local breweries in Canmore to visit! One of my favorites is The Grizzly Paw. They have a bar on 8 St and their brewery is located on Old Canmore Road on the outskirts of town (called Tank 310). 
  • Hit the trails at the Nordic Centre – The Canmore Nordic Centre offers a variety of trails for hiking, biking, or even cross country skiing. The area was developed to host cross country skiing events at the 1988 Olympic Games and is now an active training center as well as a recreational area.

Where to Stay in Canmore:

In case you want to spend a couple of nights in Canmore (and you should!) there are plenty of hotels to choose from.

For budget travelers, I love the Canmore Rocky Mountain Inn. If you don’t mind spending a little more you can certainly get a nice hotel closer to town. The Grande Rockies Resort-Bellstar Hotels & Resorts is still a short walk from town (but it only takes 5 minutes) and the hotel itself is beautiful complete with a pool, hot tub, fitness center, and restaurant and bar.

4. Banff town

Cascade Mountain as seen from Cascades of Time Gardens at Banff National Park with the historic Parks Canada admin building in the foreground.
Banff is stunning!

Banff is a major tourist destination in the Rockies, with thousands of tourists each year. It’s easy to see why: Banff is breathtakingly gorgeous, and there’s much to do in Banff in the winter, spring, summer, or fall.

The downtown area is charming, and there are plenty of great places to dine, drink, and shop. Banff Ave is a great area to stay in Banff National Park, with the mountains as a backdrop. The entire area is extremely Instagrammable.

Many guests come for a ski vacation because of the easy proximity to the Sunshine and Norquay ski resorts, which are both within a 15-minute drive of town. Plus, once you’ve had your fill of the slopes, you can take in everything that Banff has to offer, including some Apres Ski brews at one of Banff’s breweries.

The following are some of the top things to do in Banff:

  • Relax at the Banff Upper Hot Springs – The Banff Upper Hot Springs, a public hot spring with magnificent mountain views, is just a 5-minute drive up Sulphur Mountain. The hot springs are both accessible and inexpensive. Even those on a limited budget may experience one of the top Banff attractions for only $9.25 CAD per adult and $29 for a family. It’s also a fun thing to do in Banff when it’s raining.
  • Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur MountainThe Banff Gondola is perhaps the most popular activity in Banff, and with good reason! The views of the mountains and Banff town from the top of the Banff Gondola are breathtaking. There’s a restaurant and cafe at the top of the gondola, as well as a gift store, loads of information about the region and animals, and my personal favorite, the boardwalk!
  • Check out the Bow Falls Lookout – The Bow River passes through the center of Banff and is a beautiful river. It’s a beautiful turquoise color that’s picture-perfect. The Bow Falls viewpoint on the river’s bank is a short 1.5 km (0.9 mile) picturesque walk (or drive) from Banff town.

Where to stay in Banff:

If you’re going to stop anywhere along your road trip from Calgary to Jasper, make it in Banff! I highly recommend giving yourself at least a couple of days in Banff to fully explore the town and surrounding area.

For the budget-conscious traveler, Banff Inn is a great option. It has all of the necessities, plus added perks like a hot tub and spacey rooms.

If you truly want an experience and a hotel all in one, then you MUST stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs. This luxurious hotel is actually an old Scottish Castle built in 1888 and declared a National Historic Site. The Fairmont is the most prestigious of all of the hotels in Banff town offering a range of restaurants on-site to choose from as well as tons of activities. Guests can go bowling, play tennis, or swim in the large lap pool.

For more info, read about all of the best hotels and areas to stay in Banff National Park!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glaicer, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
  • Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

5. Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon in Banff
Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

As you leave Banff and start making your way towards Jasper, I recommend that you take a slight detour onto the Bow Valley Parkway (instead of Highway 1) and go to Johnston Canyon.

Johnston Canyon is a must-stop on your drive from Calgary to Jasper! The hike through Johnston Canyon is an easy walk with huge rewards.

The boardwalk along the path leads you right into a canyon filled with seven glacial waterfalls that cascade over rocky cliffs. You can get right next to the water flowing from Johnston Creek and close enough to waterfalls to feel the spray of the water on your face! 

This is also a great place in the winter! The waterfalls freeze over and create layers of giant icicles, which are incredible to see. The ice on the Lower and Upper Waterfalls here also takes on a blue color that is quite beautiful.  You do need crampons to hike it in the winter, so if you don’t have those, it’s probably best to book a guided ice walk tour.

Johnston Canyon is open all year and it’s free to get to – including free parking in one of two parking lots. It is great for families as the path is wide and not too steep. The hike is about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) to get all the way to the Upper Falls.  

Note: There will be some closures to vehicle traffic on sections of the Bow Valley Parkway this year (2023). From May 1-June 30 and then again from Sept 1-Sept 30 vehicles will NOT be able to drive the 17km/11mi stretch of road from the TransCanada-Highway junction to Johnston Canyon, it will be restricted to cyclists’ use only. This is the eastern part of the road. You will still be able to access Johnston Canyon and the Bow Valley Parkway via the intersection near Castle Mountain Chalets.

6. Morant’s Curve

Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park
Morant’s Curve along the Bow Valley Parkway.

After leaving Johnston Canyon, don’t just jump back onto the main highway yet, stay on the Bow Valley Parkway and enjoy this beautiful drive. It is much more scenic than the highway and will only take you a few minutes longer. As you make your way further along, you’ll come to a popular viewpoint called Morant’s Curve.

Near the Bow River’s bend, where trains typically pass by with a gorgeous mountain backdrop, this is an excellent place to stop for a photo. Keep a watch out for the viewing signs and park across the highway in the little parking lot.

The best photos are captured when a train approaches the bend and is perfectly framed in the photo. On a weekday, when trains operate every hour or so, is the best time to catch a train.

7. Moraine Lake

Lake Moraine just after sunrise in Banff National Park
This is such a beautiful spot!

Just a short 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) drive from Lake Louise is Moraine Lake. Although technically one of the best places to check out while you’re visiting Lake Louise, I think it deserves a mention as a stop on its own – it’s just that stunning.

You’ve likely seen Moraine Lake photos on Instagram before, it is one of the most photographed places in all of Canada. The towering Ten Peaks are the backdrop for the brightest blue lake you’ve probably ever seen.

Besides just enjoying the view, there are actually lots of different things to do at Moraine Lake including hiking the Larch Valley Trail and Consolation Lakes Trail. It really is a special place, and if you can, spend an entire day exploring here and taking it all in!

One thing to note is that Moraine Lake Road is only open from the end of May to October annually, so if you’re driving from Calgary to Jasper in winter, this is one stop you’re going to have to give a miss.

Important: Getting to Moraine Lake can be challenging as the Moraine Lake Road and parking lot closed in 2023 to all personal vehicles (except those with disability parking permits). Read our blog about parking alternatives at Moraine Lake for info on catching the shuttle or taking public transit.

8. Lake Louise

view of lake louise
What a spot!

Lake Louise, in my opinion, is a must-see destination! Spend a night or two even, if you can. At the very least a few hours. Not only is there a lake here, but also a little village and the world-famous Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Visit the Lake Louise shoreline, go on an incredible trek (Lake Agnes Teahouse is my fave), or go kayaking on the lake! These are just a few of the best things to do in Lake Louise.

Visit The Station if you’re looking for a wonderful supper. Not only is the cuisine delicious, but it’s also located within a historic train museum! It’s just one of the many delicious restaurants in Lake Louise that you can choose from.

If you’re visiting Lake Louise in the winter, skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort is a must! It had always been on Daniel and I’s bucket list. We went once in the summer and took the tourist gondola, which was enormous and had spectacular views. But Daniel and I have always wanted to ski and snowboard there for ourselves (I ski and Daniel snowboards).

As of recent we had the chance and it was every bit as epic as we had imagined. This ski resort is huge with so many runs, both on the front side and backside of the mountain. We spent 8 hours exploring and still could’ve used more time!

Note: From May 13th until October 10th, you’ll be required to pay $12.25 per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise lakefront (2022 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily.  

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

There are lots of different places to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Lake Louise.

If you want to stay in Lake Louise town, consider the Lake Louise Inn, or the budget-friendly HI Lake Louise Hostel. Dan and I often stay at the HI Hostel and think it’s clean, comfortable, and great value for money.

For a little luxury or to spoil yourself, don’t miss the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This is arguably the most beautiful hotel in Canada set in the most beautiful location (right on the lake!)

9. Bow Lake

A lady jumps from rock to rock on the edge of the Bow Lake in Banff National Park
It was a moody day but the place is still so beautiful!

Bow Lake Viewpoint is simply a pull-over bay on the side of the highway as you leave Lake Louise and start driving along the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. Its location has been created because of the amazing view from this specific spot overlooking Bow Lake.  

Last time Daniel and I stopped at this viewpoint we actually saw a Grizzly bear! He was just in the grass near the road chowing down on some grass. We stayed in our van (a good distance away) and watched him eat peacefully for a little while. Let this be your reminder that bears and other wildlife are very prominent along the Icefields Parkway and to be “bear aware” when you stop as well as when you’re driving!

If you are into photography continue down the highway a little further from this viewpoint and turn left towards the Bow Lake car parking lot.

Here, there are some short walk trails and more viewpoints that during calm weather, offer mirror reflection photography opportunities so beautiful, it made our list of Instagrammable places to visit in Banff.

10. Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake from the Peyto Lake viewpoint
Arguably the best view on the Icefields Parkway

Peyto Lake is one of the most popular locations on the Icefields Parkway, and as a result, it’s also one of the most photographed. It is, nevertheless, well-deserving of its popularity! You can see this vivid turquoise-colored lake from a higher vantage point at the Peyto Lake Viewpoint.

Most guests spend around ten minutes to walk from the parking lot to the lookout. It’s a well-marked path that’s suitable for people of all fitness levels and even young kids. Once you’ve arrived at the viewpoint, set aside some time to take photos — it’s one of Alberta’s most gorgeous destinations!

You may trek from Bow Lake to Peyto Lake if you have more time. Although this is a beautiful path, I would not suggest it if you are short on time, there’s a lot more to see on this drive from Calgary to Jasper so you’ll need to keep moving.

11. Mistaya Canyon

Mistaya Canyon along the Icefields Parkway in Canada
The beautiful Mistaya Canyon!

Mistaya Canyon is located on the Icefields Parkway about 255 kilometers (158 miles) from Calgary. This is one of my personal favorite stops along the drive between Jasper and Calgary because it is actually a little bit of a walk and makes for the perfect place to stretch your legs.

From the Mistaya parking lot, it is a 0.5 kilometer-long (0.3-mile) walk to the canyon. The walk is all downhill on the way there and it ends at a viewpoint overlooking the canyon. The canyon is beautiful and it really showcases the power of water as it rushes down the Mistaya River.  

The walk back is uphill but only gains about 40 meters (131 ft) in elevation making it suitable for all fitness levels. Do be careful if you’re hiking in winter or late spring as there can be lots of snow and ice making the trail slippery. Also, be sure to stay on the marked paths.

12. Athabasca Glacier and Skywalk

The Skywalk at the Athabasca Glacier showing the platform and the mountains in the background
That platform is called the Skywalk.

The iconic Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier are the next stop on this road journey from Calgary to Jasper. The Skywalk is hard to miss because it’s a massive man-made edifice perched on the edge of a cliff.

Continue on down the road for a few more kilometers to reach the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. If you wish to stroll on the Skywalk for yourself, this is the place where you can park. Here, you’ll board a bus to the Skywalk (there is no parking at the Skywalk which is why you need to go to the Discovery Centre). You should book your Skywalk experience online in advance.

Dan and I had previously completed the Skywalk, and it was a fantastic experience. If I’m being honest, it’s a little nerve-wracking, but the views are incredible!

The Athabasca Glacier is located directly across the road from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. There are trips available to walk onto the glacier. You can book the Skywalk and Glacier experience together to get a discount. Other trips are available, such as this top rated glacier hiking tour.

Conversely, you may just walk up to the glacier viewpoint via a short trail. On this stroll, you’ll come across a number of informative plaques as well as glacier views.

Note: Both the Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier tours are only available from the beginning of May until mid-October.

13. Sunwapta Falls

The beautiful Sunwapta Falls from the boardwalk
The beautiful Sunwapta Falls from the boardwalk

Sunwapta Falls is a 3.2 km (2-mile) trail with 143 m (469 ft) of elevation gain. It’s still fairly easy, but if you’re visiting in the winter you might want to bring snowshoes or crampons to walk in because of the elevation. 

The falls consist of lower and upper sections. The upper falls can be viewed from the parking lot, and the lower falls are accessible via an enjoyable hike. To access the trailhead, you can turn off to Highway 93 (the Icefields Parkway) at the sign, about 54 km (33.6 miles) south of Jasper.

This is a winter wonderland in December and a top attraction in Jasper year-round!

14. Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park
Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park

Not far after Sunwapta Falls, you’ll come to a turn-off for Athabasca Falls. From here, you’re almost done this road trip as these falls are widely regarded as one of the top things to do in Jasper due to its close proximity to the town.

This waterfall is massive, strong, and awe-inspiring, not to mention it has a picturesque mountain backdrop. You may take a short walk along a boardwalk to numerous waterfall viewpoints.

This is one of the few destinations that is still open throughout the winter months — and arguably even more gorgeous! The frozen falls give the impression of being in a winter wonderland. We visited for ourselves not too long ago, and believe me when I say that it is well worth a visit.

Related read: Chasing waterfalls is one of the most romantic things you can do in Jasper on a honeymoon or couples’ holiday!

15. Jasper

Admiring the views of the mountains while on our Maligne Lake cruise tour in Jasper
The cruise really is stunning!

And there you have it! You have reached the final destination of your epic road trip from Calgary to Jasper!

Jasper is actually one of my personal favorite places in Canada. This quaint town, although a tourist destination, somehow still keeps its “small-town vibe” and is very peaceful. There are a ton of fun things to do in Jasper, so many that you could easily spend a few days here exploring and adventuring.

  • Maligne Canyon – This beautiful canyon is a must-visit destination in Jasper National Park. Just a 15-minute drive from town will take you to the trailhead and parking lot where you can walk to various viewpoints along the trail. The first viewpoint is the best and only a couple hundred meters from the parking lot.  
  • Maligne Lake – About a 40-minute drive from Jasper town is Maligne Lake. Getting there is a scenic and beautiful drive in itself. In the summer, be sure to jump on a Maligne Lake Cruise to see the famous Spirit Island. In the winter, go snowshoeing – there’s a ton of things to do at Maligne Lake!
  • Pyramid Lake – Another stunning lake within Jasper National Park is Pyramid Lake. You’ve probably seen this lake plastered all over Instagram with its mirror-like reflections and coned-shaped Pyramid Mountain in the background. Here, you can walk out to Pyramid Island along a beautiful boardwalk, hang out at the beach, stay at Pyramid Lake Resort, or rent a canoe/kayak. 
  • Downtown – Jasper’s downtown area is really cute. The main street called Connaught Drive runs parallel with the train tracks and makes for a fun place to explore. Grab some ice cream, do a little shopping, stop in for a beer at Jasper Brewing Co, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many delicious restaurants in Jasper town. For a great cup of coffee, stop in at one of the many cafes in town, too.
  • Miette Hot Springs – If you like hot springs then you can’t miss Miette. Located just outside of Jasper town in Jasper National Park, Miette Hot Springs offers mountain views for only a few dollars per person as an entrance fee.
  • Ride the Jasper Skytram – In the summer months in Jasper, this is easily the best way to enjoy a panoramic view of Jasper National Park without having to go on a long hike. In a large tram, you will be transported up Whistler Mountain with about 20 other people at the speed of 6 meters per second. Once at the top, you can do a 1.4-kilometer-long hike to reach the summit. Be sure to book the tram well in advance to secure your spot.
  • Marmot Basin – One of the best ski resorts in Canada is located in Jasper National Park – Marmot Basin! With 91 different runs spread out evenly between all levels, you’re sure to have a great day hitting the slopes in Jasper!

Essential Tips for Driving from Calgary to Jasper

  • A Discovery Pass is required to travel throughout Jasper and Banff National Parks. This pass costs $10 CAD per day per person, $20 CAD per day per family, or $140 CAD per year per car. The yearlong ticket is definitely the greatest value for money if you plan on taking your time traveling from Jasper to Banff or any of the other 80 destinations the pass is valid for!
  • In the winter, the route from Calgary to Jasper may be slippery (believe us, we’ve travelled it!). Make sure you’re using winter tires or chains, and drive cautiously. Allow plenty of time and adhere to all traffic signs and restrictions.
  • Regardless of the season you do your road trip from Calgary to Jasper, remember to be on the lookout for wildlife. If possible stick to driving during times where there is sunlight.
  • Is the drive from Calgary to Jasper possible to do in one day? Sure. But there is truly so much to do and see along this route that I really encourage you take some time out of your trip to visit and enjoy each of the stops I’ve listed for this road trip.

Ready for another road trip? Check out the drive from Jasper to Edmonton!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glaicer, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
  • Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Where to Stay in Jasper, Canada

The spa at the Whistler Inn in jasper
What a view! This photo is taken from the gorgeous Whistlers Inn.

When compared to Banff (and the dozens of hotels in Banff), there actually aren’t that many hotels to choose from in Jasper. That’s right, accommodation in Jasper is limited, and therefore it’s important to book your stay as far in advance as possible!

Here, I’ve handpicked some of my personal favorite hotels in Jasper suitable for any type of traveler with any type of budget!

Jasper Downtown Hostel (Budget Backpackers)

Jasper Downtown Hostel is the best place to stay for those on a tight budget. The central location, shared facilities, and friendly atmosphere makes it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms.

You can book Jasper Downtown Hostel on either or Hostelworld.

Patricia Lake Bungalows (Moderate Budget)

Patricia Lake Bungalows are a great place to stay if you want a comfortable stay for a reasonable price. There are some standard rooms as well as some units with kitchenettes. There is a hot tub on-site as well as a playground for children and the location is close to town, but far enough that it is quiet and relaxing.

You can check prices and book Patricia Lake Bungalows on

Whistlers Inn (Moderate to High Budget)

Whistlers Inn is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a nice escape right in town and only a short walk from popular bars, restaurants, and attractions in Jasper. They also have a rooftop hot tub (pictured above) – need I say more?

You can check prices and availability on

Pyramid Lake Resort (Luxury)

This place is beautiful, and it is set in an even more beautiful location! Pyramid Lake is the perfect place for hiking, swimming, kayaking, or even skating in the winter. Pyramid Lake Resort doesn’t cut any corners and it’s a highly rated hotel. It’s also a popular place to stay for those visiting Jasper on a honeymoon!

You can check prices and availability for Pyramid Lake Resort on

For more info, read our blog about where to stay in Jasper – it tells you about all of the different areas to choose from a range of top-rated hotels for all budgets.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is memorizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Canada Travel Essentials

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
A windproof jacket and Buff will save you in the mountains!

Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.

Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!

Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!

Bear bells: These are a must, and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $9 CAD and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.

Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.

Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.

Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.

Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $25 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at the top of the Sky Tram in Jasper
Thanks for reading!

I hope that this guide on the best stops from Calgary to Jasper has you excited for your road trip! This is truly one of the best road trips to do through Alberta. Mountains, lakes, hikes, springs, and wildlife are just a few of the amazing highlights you can expect to endure on this magical road trip.

Take your time enjoying each of these stops on your journey from Calgary to Jasper to ensure you get the most out of your experience! And before you go, be sure to check out some of our other popular guides!

10 BEST Tours in Jasper, Alberta (that you don’t want to miss!)

Complete Banff Itinerary

Things to do in Canmore in the Winter

How to Enjoy Fall in Banff

22 BEST Places to Visit in BC, Canada - British Columbia Destinations
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