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Driving from Jasper to Banff is one of the best road trips you can do in Canada. But to be sure you enjoy it, you need to know the best places to check out along the way! This blog will help you plan your epic road trip with the best stops and important info for driving from Jasper to Banff.
Anybody who’s been to both Jasper and Banff will know that these two towns are stunning. Seriously, they’re a couple of the most beautiful places in Canada. And the truth is, the road that connects the two is equally as impressive.
Driving from Jasper to Banff is a must-do road trip in Canada. Not only is the drive extremely scenic, but it is also full of attractions and fun places to stop along the way.
So, why not make a day (or week) of it and enjoy one of the best road trips in the world?!
Well, in this blog I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that with the best places to stop on the drive from Jasper to Banff! I’ve also included important tips and info to know before you set off.
How to Drive from Jasper to Banff
To get from Jasper town to Banff town you will drive a scenic road through Jasper National Park and straight into Banff National Park. Start off by driving on the Icefields Parkways (Highway 93) heading south from Jasper.
This road winds its way through valleys, next to waterfalls, and through some of the most beautiful places in all of Canada.
Since the road from Jasper to Banff travels entirely through national parks, you’re going to need a national parks pass. This pass can be bought online in advance or at the parks’ entrance gates. You can choose between daily rates ($10 CAD per adult per day or $10 per vehicle) or opt for a yearly pass for about $140 per vehicle.
There is no way around this pass, and if at any point you are caught without one in either Jasper National Park or Banff National Park you will end up with a hefty fine.
Highway 93 turns into Highway 1 at the overpass with Lake Louise. Continue on Highway 1 until you reach Banff. To be honest, driving from Jasper to Banff is pretty straightforward, and with the help of Google maps, you won’t get lost!
Jasper to Banff Trip Itinerary: The 15 BEST Stops
The above map shows all of the best places to see along on the drive from Jasper to Banff. Below, I’ve included detailed info about each stop to help you plan your road trip!
1. Jasper Town
This epic road trip starts in Jasper town, 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.
While you’re in Jasper, some highlights you should consider checking out include:
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 in 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 the Jasper Pizza Place or The Spice Joint (their crab grilled cheese sandwich is to die for!)
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. (Please note, the hot springs are closed for the remainder of 2021.)
Ride the Jasper Skytram – In the summer months, 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!
Where to Stay in Jasper
There are plenty of great places to stay in Jasper. Budget travelers will absolutely love Jasper Downtown Hostel. Dan and I often stay there and it is clean and comfortable with a huge communal kitchen that has everything you need and more. They have private rooms, family rooms, and dorm rooms.
For something a little nicer, check out The Crimson Jasper. It is a great mid-range hotel with a central location, pool and hot tub, and of course, excellent reviews.
But if you want to splurge a little, the only option is the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. This place is a luxurious getaway in the wilderness. I can’t say we’ve ever stayed here (a little pricey for us if I’m being honest) but I’ve heard amazing things!
Airbnb is also a great option in Jasper. There aren’t a ton of options, but it is well worth checking out to see if there is one available for your desired dates.
2. Valley of the Five Lakes
The Valley of the Five Lakes is my favorite easy hike in Jasper. As you leave Jasper town along the Icefields Parkways (the road that connects Jasper with Banff) you’ll see signs for the Valley of the Five Lakes.
This is a 4.5-kilometer-long hike that takes you to – you guessed it – 5 lakes! It is actually a very easy hike that is suitable even for families. On a warm day, bring your swimsuit and if you can brave the cold water, jump in!
3. Athabasca Falls
Leaving Jasper on the Icefields Parkway towards Banff, your second stop is the epic Athabasca Falls. It’s located on your right about 30 kilometers from Jasper town. Because of its close proximity to Jasper town, Athabasca Falls is often considered one of the best things to do in Jasper.
This waterfall is huge and powerful and seriously impressive. You can do the short walk along a boardwalk to various viewpoints of the falls. With mountains as her backdrop, Athabasca Falls is one photogenic waterfall.
In the winter months, this is one of the few stops along your road trip from Jasper to Banff that is still open – and possibly even more beautiful! The falls freeze creating the feeling of being in a winter wonderland. We were just there a couple of weeks ago, and believe me, it is well worth visiting.
Related read: Chasing waterfalls is one of the most romantic things you can do in Jasper on a honeymoon or couples’ holiday!
4. Sunwapta Falls
Just 15 minutes further down the highway from Athabasca Falls is Sunwapta Falls. This waterfall is smaller than Athabasca, but still worth checking out. The power of the water has carved some unique rock formations in the canyon below that you’ll see from a bridge and viewpoint.
It is only a short walk from the parking lot to the falls and this stop should only take about 10-20 minutes. Like Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls is also very impressive in the winter months.
Accommodation option: At Sunwapta Falls there is the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge. If you want a quiet wilderness escape, consider staying here.
5. Athabasca Glacier and Skywalk
The next stop on this road trip from Jasper to Banff is the famous Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier. As you drive from Sunwapta Falls, about 35 minutes further, you’ll reach the Skywalk. You can’t miss it seeing as it is a huge man-made structure hanging off the edge of a cliff.
Continue you on a couple more kilometers down the road to reach the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. This is where you need to go if you want to walk on the Skywalk for yourself. You’ll pay $24.95 CAD here, sign up for a tour time, and then jump on a bus to the Skywalk (there is no parking at the Skywalk which is why you need to go to the Discovery Centre.)
Dan and I have done the Skywalk before and it was really a neat experience. A little nerve-racking if I’m being honest, however, the views are astounding!
Just across the road from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre is the Athabasca Glacier. You can do tours to walk onto the glacier. There are also other tours including this highly rated glacier hiking tour.
Alternatively, just walk the trail up to the glacier. On this walk, you’ll come across various information plaques as well viewpoints of the glacier.
Note: Both the Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier tours are only available from the beginning of May until mid-October.
6. Big Hill and Big Bend
Shortly after the Athabasca Glacier as you continue driving towards Banff you’ll come to Big Hill and Big Bend. This is the most challenging part of the drive from Jasper to Banff as the road winds its way down the side of a mountain.
Along the road are a couple of different pullover bays where you can stop and enjoy the views of the valley below. You will also see Big Bend, which is the nickname for the road that does a huge curve (believe me, you can’t miss it!)
This is simply just a viewpoint stop along this epic road trip and depending on how long your photo ops take, should only take 5 or so minutes.
7. Weeping Wall
Once you descend into the valley and wind your way through Big Bend, you’ll see a pullover bay with toilets on your right. Stop here and then look across the road – you’ll see the Weeping Wall!
The Weeping Wall is essentially a large cliff face with lots of tiny streams of water flowing over it. It appears as if the cliff is crying (hence the name.) This is once again just a short stop on your drive from Jasper to Banff. It is great all year round with rushing water in the summer and frozen crystals in the winter.
8. Mistaya Canyon
Along your road trip, you’re going to need to stretch your legs, right?! Well, Mistaya Canyon is the perfect place to do so. This easy 1-kilometer-long walk takes you down to the canyon and along its edge to various viewpoints.
Although maybe not the most spectacular canyon walk we’ve ever done (Johnson Canyon and Maligne Canyon take the cake on this one) it is the perfect place to get out of your car and go for a quick walk on this day of driving.
9. Peyto Lake
As one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada, it should come as no surprise that Peyto Lake is a must-visit destination on any road trip from Jasper to Banff.
And the best part? For this epic viewpoint, you only need to walk about 10 minutes from the parking lot! This makes Peyto Lake an easy and accessible viewpoint in Banff National Park.
The only downside to Peyto Lake is that sometimes it is very busy. Getting a parking space can be a test of patience.
10. Bow Lake
You have two options when it comes to visiting Bow Lake. You can either turn into a large parking lot at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. Here, you can walk along a couple of trails along the shoreline and take in the views from all angles.
Alternatively, for just a quick pit stop and photo opportunity, continue down the highway a little further until you come to a pullover bay on your righthand side. Here, is another viewpoint of Bow Lake (and where we once saw a Grizzly Bear!)
If you visit on a clear day, you might even be able to spot Crowfoot Glacier in the mountains in the distance.
11. Lake Louise
Another 45-minute drive from Bow Lake and you will arrive at the overpass for Lake Louise. To me, Lake Louise is a huge attraction and a place where you should stop to spend a night or two, or at the very least, a few hours. Here you will not only find the lake but a small town as well as the famous Lake Louise Ski Resort.
If you want a delicious meal, be sure to visit The Station. Not only is the food amazing, but it is set in a historic train museum too!
Skiing in Lake Louise
Skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort was always a bucket-list thing for Daniel and me. We visited once in the summer and rode the sightseeing gondola – it was huge and the views were epic. But we always wanted to ski and snowboard there (I ski and Daniel snowboards) for ourselves.
Well, last month our dream came true and we spent the day shredding at Lake Louise! This ski resort is huge with more runs than you can imagine both on the front side and backside of the mountain. We spent 8 hours exploring and still could’ve used more time!
Hot tip: If you are visiting Banff National Park in the winter and want to spend a few days hitting the slopes, then consider getting a SkiBig3 Lift Ticket. This pass allows you to ski three different days at three different ski resorts nearby: Lake Louise, Mt Norquay, and Sunshine Village! This is what Dan and I recently did and we loved it. It was fun to explore a new mountain each day and paired perfectly with our road trip!
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!)
12. Moraine Lake
Just a short 14-kilometer 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!
Hot tip: Getting to Moraine Lake can be challenging as parking is limited. Read our blog about parking at Moraine Lake for info on snagging a spot or catching the shuttle.
13. Bow Valley Parkway
Once you’re ready to leave Lake Louise (just jokes, you’ll never be truly ready to leave), you can make your way to the Bow Valley Parkway for a day of epic viewpoints along a scenic drive.
The Bow Valley Parkway is a 50-kilometer-long stretch of road that runs parallel with Highway 1 that connects Lake Louise with Banff. Instead of driving on Highway 1, take the Bow Valley Parkway for a more scenic and relaxing drive.
There are lots of amazing places to check out on the Bow Valley Parkway. Some of my personal favorites include:
Morant’s Curve – This iconic viewpoint is located just on the side of the road and showcases train tracks weaving through the mountains. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a train here!
Castle Mountain Lookout – Castle Mountain is, you guessed it, a mountain that looked exactly like a castle! You can stop at a viewpoint, or choose to hike one of the many trails around here.
Johnston Canyon – Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular easy hikes you can do in the Canmore and Banff area. It is 2.4-kilometers-long and takes you along the edge of an impressive canyon before reaching waterfalls and caves. In the winter, you can do an ice trekking tour here!
Accommodation recommendation: If you want to spend a night in the peace and quiet of the Bow Valley Parkway, be sure to book a cabin at Baker Creek Mountain Resort. Every cabin has a fireplace and you can spend your evening under the stars (a top spot for anybody on a Banff honeymoon!)
14. Sunshine Village
Drive the Bow Valley Parkway until the end when it takes you back onto the highway. From here, you are only a short drive from the turnoff to Sunshine Village – the next stop on your road trip from Jasper to Banff!
Sunshine Village is a popular place for visitors in both the winter and the summer. Now I must admit, I’ve never actually been in the summer but I have heard amazing things. There are some very well-known hikes in the area.
Dan and I most recently visited Sunshine Village for a day on the slopes with our SkiBig3 Lift Ticket. In winter, Sunshine Village is one of Canada’s most impressive ski resorts. To start your day, you’ll ride a gondola for about 15 minutes up to the village. From here, you’ll have access to what feels like an endless number of chairlifts, runs, and even bars and restaurants.
For something extra special, book a night or two at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge and stay right up there!
15. Banff Town
From Sunshine Village, you only have a short 5-minute drive to Banff town. In Banff town, book yourself a hotel for a few nights as you’ll definitely need time to explore this vibrant mountain town!
Truthfully, there are tons of fun things to do in Banff, it can be hard to know even where to start! Some of my personal favorite activities in Banff include:
Visit Mt Norquay – The views from Mt Norquay are unlike any other. In the summer, ride the sightseeing gondola and visit the restaurant at the top for a beer with a view. In the winter, you can’t miss hitting the slopes or testing out their famous tube park (fun for the whole family!) If you buy the SkiBig3 Lift Ticket Mt Norquay is the third ski resort you’ll have access to.
Banff Upper Hot Springs – For only a few dollars you can relax in Banff’s very own hot springs with mountain views. The hot springs can get busy though.
Take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain – Ride the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain to experience panoramic views of Banff National Park. If you want to skip paying for the ride, hike up instead!
Indulge in food and drinks – Banff has tons of tasty restaurants and bars. For beer, head to Baff Brewing Co. For a delicious meal with crafted cocktails, head to Parks Distillery.
Go hiking – The hiking trails in and around Banff are almost endless. Even in the winter, there are tons of epic hikes to challenge you.
Where to Stay in Banff
There are lots of amazing hotels to choose from in Banff. My personal favorite is Moose Hotel & Suites which has a great location, is reasonably priced, and has all the amenities you could want including two rooftop hot tubs.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider checking out King Edward Hotel. It is easily the most affordable place to stay. Plus, it is located right in town on Banff Ave!
And for a little luxury, the Rimrock Resort Hotel is a must! With an onsite spa, balconies with amazing views, as well as a restaurant and bar this hotel is a must! Plus, it is located a couple of minutes from town in a quieter location.
Alternatively, there are a few Airbnbs to choose from in Banff.
Related read: For more detailed info on where to stay in Banff, read our blog about the best hotels in Banff!
Tips for Driving from Jasper to Banff
- Parks Canada Pass – To drive from Jasper to Banff you’re going to need a Parks Canada Pass. This pass costs $10 CAD per person per day, $20 per family per day, or $140 CAD per year for a vehicle. If you’re going to take your time driving from Jasper to Banff, then the yearly pass is probably the best bang for your buck.
- Winter driving – The road from Jasper to Banff can be icy in the winter (trust us, we just drove it!) Be sure to have winter tires or snow chains and drive slowly. Also, allow yourself plenty of time and obey all road signs and closures. Keep in mind, wildlife isn’t just out in the summer either, the last time we drive from Jasper to Banff it was winter and there was a moose on the road!
- Allow plenty of time – Many people try to drive from Jasper to Banff in one day, and while this is totally doable, I don’t recommend it. There is just so much to do and see! Spend a night on the Icefields Parkway, in Lake Louise, and maybe even Sunshine Village to space your trip out a bit!
Related read: If you are short on time, check out our one-day Icefields Parkway itinerary. It details what you can do and see from Banff to Jasper in just one day!
Jasper to Banff Road Trip FAQs
It is 288 kilometers (179 miles) from Jasper to Banff. The drive takes around 4 hours without stops.
1. Valley of the 5 Lakes
2. Athabasca Falls
3. Sunwapta Falls
4. Athabasca Glacier and Skywalk
5. Big Hill and Big Bend
6. Mistaya Canyon
7. Peyto Lake
8. Bow Lake
9. Lake Louise
10. Moraine Lake
11. Bow Valley Parkway
12. Sunshine Village
13. Banff Town
Take Highway 93, also called the Icefields Parkway out of Jasper all the way to the overpass with Lake Louise. From here, continue straight onto Highway 1 to Banff.
Absolutely! there are a ton of amazing things to do in Jasper! And besides that, the drive from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway is stunning and an experience in itself.
Yes. Sundog Tours offers a shuttle three times a day from Jasper to Banff.
Yes, however, you do need to be careful. It is a two-way single-lane highway that weaves its way through the mountains. In winter, the road can be icy. You must also keep an eye out for wildlife on the road.
Most of the time, yes. On occasion, during bad road conditions, Parks Canada will temporarily close the road (Highway 93 or the Icefields Parkway) that connects Jasper with Banff.
Without stopping, the drive from Jasper to Banff takes about 4 hours.
Before you go…
And there you have it, an epic road trip from Jasper to Banff. If you follow my recommendations in the blog, I’m sure you’ll have a road trip to remember!
I hope you’ve learned a few things here or at least got inspired, and thanks for reading!
If you found this blog helpful, then be sure to check out some of our other most popular blogs about Canada including:
Happy road tripping!