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15 Stops on the Icefields Parkway You Can Visit in 1 DAY – Icefields Parkway Itinerary

15 Stops on the Icefields Parkway You Can Visit in 1 DAY – Icefields Parkway Itinerary

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The Icefields Parkway is a beautiful stretch of road between Lake Louise and Jasper. There are a ton of amazing places to visit along the Icefields Parkway, which makes it difficult to choose which ones to check out and which ones to miss if you’re short on time.

This blog outlines the best stops along the Icefields Parkway that you can easily do in just a day! It’s your complete 1-day Icefields Parkway itinerary including all the important info you should know before you go.

About the Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway in winter
Ready for one of the most scenic drives in the world?

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the entire world. This 230 kilometer-long stretch of highway (143 miles) winds its way through both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park connecting Lake Louise with Jasper – two of the best places to visit in Alberta

It is a two-lane highway (Highway 93) that is paved the entire way. The highway is maintained by Parks Canada and you’ll need a Parks Canada Pass to drive it (even if you don’t plan on stopping.) The road is most commonly driven by people traveling between Banff and Jasper – not only is it a scenic route but it is also the fastest route that connects these two towns.

But the Icefields Parkway isn’t just about the scenic drive, there are literally dozens of amazing attractions along the Icefields Parkway. There are countless blue lakes, waterfalls, and hikes. The truth is if you wanted to visit all of the attractions on the Icefields Parkway (and do all of the hikes) you’re going to need a couple of days at least.  

That poses a problem for most travelers who plan to drive the entire Icefields Parkway in just one day. Not to mention, the limited accommodation options along the Icefields Parkway make it difficult to spend more than a day exploring the route. 

We’ve driven this route numerous times and based on all of the places we’ve explored along the Icefields Parkway, we’ve selected the best quick stops to create an awesome itinerary anyone can accomplish even if they only have 1 day to spend along the Icefields Parkway. 

We’ve also included a ton of tips and essential info you’ll want to know before you go. Everything from where to stay on the Icefields Parkway to where to get gas to driving tips – you’ll find it all in this Icefields Parkway guide!

Note: This Icefields Parkway itinerary runs in the direction of Banff/Lake Louise to Jasper, however, you can complete it easily driving in the reverse direction starting in Jasper too.  

Icefields Parkway FAQs

Weeping Wall Icefields Parkway
The frozen Weeping Wall on the Icefields Parkway in winter

Before you set off on your epic Icefields Parkway road trip, you probably have a few questions. Below I’ve answered some of the most common questions people have before they drive the Icefields Parkway.

Icefields Parkway Map for a 1-Day Itinerary 

Above is a map of the Icefields Parkway including the absolute best attractions along the drive! These are all the shortest stops that don’t involve a long hike. They are also the most beautiful places to check out along the Icefields Parkway that you really shouldn’t miss!

Below I’ve included more details about each attraction so you know what exactly to expect and plan accordingly. 

15 BEST Stops Along the Icefields Parkway

15 stops along the Icefields Parkway may seem like a lot to accomplish in just one day, but the truth is that it isn’t. The stops I’ve included in this Icefields Parkway itinerary are simply quick stops, some of which are viewpoints that you don’t even have to get out of your car if you don’t want to! 

This list is in order of stops starting from Lake Louise and driving towards Jasper, but this list can easily be reversed for those traveling in the opposite direction too.

1. Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint 

Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint on the Icefields Parkway in Canada
Can you see how the glacier go its name? Just imagine the ice protruding down the bottom to create the crow’s foot!
  • Type of attraction: Roadside viewpoint
  • Time needed: 10 minutes
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 32.7 km/20.3 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 196 km/121.8 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Crowfoot Glacier location – click here.

The first stop on your Icefields Parkway itinerary is located only 32 kilometers from Lake Louise. This is just a quick viewpoint stop where from a small pull-off bay on the side of the highway you will see beautiful mountains and of course, Crowfoot Glacier! 

Crowfoot Glacier feeds the Bow River as it melts.  It was originally named because of its shape – like a crow’s foot! However, it has been receding over the years and the shape of the glacier has changed. With that said, it’s still large and easily seen from the viewpoint on the Icefields Parkway. 

Crowfoot Glacier is wedged between mountains and sits above Bow Lake. It’s really beautiful and if you haven’t seen Athabasca Glacier yet, then it’s a great introduction to Canada’s glacier country! 

2. Bow Lake Viewpoint 

A panoramic view of the Bow Lake on the Icefields Parkway
Not a bad view if you ask me!

Just 1.4 kilometers further down the Icefields Parkway from the Crowfoot Glacier is the Bow Lake Viewpoint. Like Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint, this viewpoint is simply a pull-over bay on the side of the highway. 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” while you’re there.

A bear eats grass at the Bow Lake viewpoint
We were so lucky to see this grizzly at the viewpoint!

If you’re into photography then you can add one extra stop to this Icefields Parkway Itinerary. Just a little further down the road there is a larger parking lot right on the edge of Bow Lake. Just continue down the highway a little further from this viewpoint and turn left towards the Bow Lake parking lot.

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

This specific tour departs from Banff/Lake Louise and will take you to both Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier along with a few other stops along the way! It is a great option for those who don’t want to drive the entire Icefields Parkway!

3. Peyto Lake Upper Viewpoint 

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

Peyto Lake is probably one of the most popular stops along the Icefields Parkway, and as such, likely the most photographed.  

Peyto Lake is well-deserving of its popularity though because it really is a special lookout. From the upper viewpoint, you will look down onto this bright turquoise-colored lake. It is a view you’ve probably seen before on Instagram or even on postcards! 

This stop on your Icefields Parkway itinerary is one you should allow a little more time for. The walk to the viewpoint from the parking lot takes most people about 10-minutes. It’s a well-marked track and easy enough for all fitness levels and children. Once you arrive at the viewpoint, you’ll want to allow some time for taking photos – it’s beautiful. 

If you have extra time, you can actually hike from Bow Lake to Peyto Lake. Although this is a nice trail, I don’t recommend it if you are planning to complete the Icefields Parkway drive in just one day.

4. Waterfowl Lakes Viewpoint

Stunning reflections at Waterfowl Lake Viewpoint on the Icefields Parkway scenic drive
I never get sick of the reflections at Waterfowl Lakes!
  • Type of attraction: Roadside viewpoint
  • Time needed: 10 minutes
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 62.2 km/38.6 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 171 km/106 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Waterfowl Lakes location – click here.

This is Daniel’s favorite stop along the Icefields Parkway! On a calm day, the water at Waterfowl Lakes reflects the mountains behind it perfectly. Daniel, being a photographer, could take pictures here all day long (as I’m sure most photographers could.)

But on your one-day Icefields Parkway itinerary, you don’t have time to spend all day at Waterfowl Lakes. That’s okay though, a quick stop to check out the view, take a photo, and then hit the road again is all you need.

You’ll reach Waterfowl Lakes after driving 19 kilometers from Peyto Lake. You’ll see the lake and parking lot on your left-hand side.

5. Mistaya Canyon 

Mistaya Canyon on the Icefields Parkway in summer

Mistaya Canyon with a mountain backdrop on the Icefields Parkway, Canada

Mistaya Canyon is located a little way further down the Icefields Parkway about 80 kilometers from Lake Louise. This is one of my personal favorite stops along the Icefields Parkway 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 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 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.  

6. Saskatchewan River Crossing Café and Gas Station 

Saskatchewan River Crossing Café and Gas Station
Saskatchewan River Crossing Café and Gas Station

Okay so this isn’t necessarily a “fun” stop, but it might be a necessity for your Icefields Parkway itinerary. There are very limited facilities and services along the Icefields Parkway, so if you’re finding yourself getting low on gas or getting hungry, this is the place to stop. In fact, this is the only gas station on the Icefields Parkway.

The gas here is extremely overpriced, if you can avoid filling up here I would. However, if you’re getting low then fill up – this is only the halfway point along the Icefields Parkway drive.  

There is also a café and souvenir shop here. It’s a good place to grab a coffee or sandwich if you need it. The only other place to buy food along the Icefields Parkway is at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center across the street from the Athabasca Glacier. 

They also have a nice bathroom anybody can use (even if you’re not buying anything.) This is the place to stop for a bathroom break if you want to avoid using the pit toilets/outhouses you’ll find everywhere else along the Icefields Parkway.  

There is also a hotel at Saskatchewan River Crossing that you can book online in advance if you decide you’d rather spend two days driving the Icefields Parkway.  

Note: Saskatchewan River Crossing closes in the winter months, so plan ahead with a full fuel tank and food!

Related Read: From Saskatchewan River Crossing you can drive towards Nordegg instead of continuing down the Icefields Parkway. Hit up destinations like Abraham Lake, Rocky Mountain House, and even Sylvan Lake for a beach getaway!)

7. Weeping Wall 

The Weeping Wall on the Icefields Parkway scenic drive between Banff and Jasper National Park
The Weeping Wall on the Icefields Parkway scenic drive between Banff and Jasper National Park
  • Type of attraction: Roadside viewpoint
  • Time needed: 10 minutes
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 109 km/67.7 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 125 km/77.7 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Weeping Wall location – click here.

27 kilometers after Saskatchewan River Crossing you’ll reach the Weeping Wall. The Weeping Wall is simply a viewpoint where lots of tiny waterfalls stream down the cliff face of a mountain making it look like it’s crying or weeping.  

To me, this is one Icefields Parkway attraction that is even better in the winter! Sure, in the summer you’ll see the little waterfalls, but in the winter they freeze making it look like a winter wonderland! 

This is another quick viewpoint stop where you actually don’t even need to leave your vehicle to have a good look. In fact, you can even see the Weeping Wall from the road and you may choose not to stop at all.  

8. Big Hill and Big Bend Viewpoint

The view from Big Hill just after Big Bend on the Icefields Parkway
From here you can see just how stunning the Icefields Parkway really is!
  • Type of attraction: Roadside viewpoint
  • Time needed: 5 minutes
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 116 km/72.1 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 118 km/73.3 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Big Bend Viewpoint location – click here.

Big Bend is the name of a massive curve in the road along the Icefields Parkway. Any Icefields Parkway itinerary will include Big Bend, as you have no choice but to drive on it! 

However, at the top of the curvy road, there is a viewing area where you can look back on the Icefields Parkway called Big Hill! You’ll see the road you just drove wrap its way around mountains through the valley floor. On a clear day, this is the perfect place to stop for a photo! 

The viewpoint is on the right side of the road and somewhat on a blind corner so be very careful pulling in and out here. Drive all of Big Bend with caution and take your time to be able to see the pullover bay where you can safely get out of your vehicle.   

9. Athabasca Glacier/Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre 

Bailey stands next to the 4wd bus on the Athabasca Glacier Icewalk tour
Standing on the Athabasca Glacier!
  • Type of attraction: Short walk to the viewpoint or join a glacier tour
  • Time needed: 1-3 hours
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 130 km/80.8 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 104 km/64.6 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Icefield Discovery Centre location – click here.

This is one place you absolutely do not want to miss on the Icefields Parkway. The Athabasca Glacier is huge at 6 kilometers squared and is part of the larger Columbia Icefields.  In fact, we learned on our recent tour here that it won’t be long before this glacier ceases to exist due to global warming. Would you believe the Athabasca Glacier has lost 1.5 kilometers in the past 125 years?!

There are a couple of different ways to experience Athabasca Glacier but the only way to see it up close is on a guided tour. The guided glacier tours depart from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center (a large building located just across the road from the glacier) and actually drive up and onto the glacier itself in a specially adapted ice-explorer vehicle (see the photo above.) You will be able to hop out and walk around on the Athabasca Glacier and take some photos. Plus, you will even be able to fill up our water bottle with refreshing glacier water.

Be sure to book this tour in advance, because it is super-popular! Dan and I did this tour last year and made the mistake of not booking in advance, so we had to wait around the Columbia Discovery Centre for a couple of hours before they could get us on a tour. It was such a waste of time!

The only way to get to actually walk on Athabasca Glacier is on a guided tour. The tour we did with the ice-explorer vehicle is shorter, and you can only walk on a specific section of the glacier. If you actually want to do a half-day hike, you’ll have to book this guided hiking tour. It is the most in-depth experience you can get!

Unfortunately, if you don’t book a tour, you’ll only be able to walk up to a viewpoint next to the glacier for safety reasons. Jump on Athabasca Glacier trail and hike right up almost to the edge of the glacier. It’s only a short 1-kilometer hike, but from here you’ll have a better view of the glacier than from the road.  

In the Columbia Discovery Centre, you will also find a restaurant and foodcourt-style place to eat. There is a huge parking lot here too.

If you’re running short on time, there is a beautiful hotel located right next to Athabasca Glacier called Glacier View Lodge. You should book it in advance in the summer months to avoid missing out.

Note: Athabasca Glacier tours only operate from May to October.

10. Skywalk 

The Skywalk at the Athabasca Glacier showing the platform and the mountains in the background
It’s pretty scary walking on the platform!
  • Type of attraction: Tour to walk out onto a platform
  • Time needed: About an hour (as long as you have a booking in advance)
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 130 km/80.8 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 104 km/64.6 miles
  • Google Maps location link: You must park at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre and ride their bus 10 minutes to the Skywalk.

Just down the road from the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center is the Skywalk. The Skywalk is a structure with a glass floor that hangs off the edge of a mountain almost like a weightless bridge.  

It’s a pretty impressive structure that is said to be an engineering feat so strong that it would hold a 747 airplane.  

I must admit, it is a little nerve-racking walking out onto the glass floor, but it is also pretty neat too! The views from out on the Skywalk are really amazing.  

If you want to walk on the Skywalk you’ll have to park at Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre because there is no parking lot at the Skywalk. They will actually put you on a bus and take you to the Skywalk where you’ll be given headphones for an included audio tour. When you’re ready to leave, you just jump back on the bus where they’ll take you back to the Discovery Center.  

You should book the Skywalk experience online in advance to avoid missing out. During peak times, the tour can be fully booked up. Otherwise, book your Athabasca Glacier tour and Skywalk experience together to get a discounted rate!

Note: The Skywalk is only open from May to October each year.

11. Tangle Creek Falls 

Tangle Creek Fallsalong the Icefields Parkway in Canada
The falls are really impressive and you can get some great photos!
  • Type of attraction: Roadside viewpoint
  • Time needed: 10 minutes
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 137 km/85.1 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 96.5 km/60 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Tangle Creek Falls location – click here.

Tangle Creek Falls is an absolutely gorgeous waterfall that is right next to the road along the Icefields Parkway. In fact, if you’re not mapping for its location, you’ll likely drive right past it and maybe even miss it! 

When driving towards Jasper, the falls will be on your right with the parking lot across the road on your left. You can walk up to the falls and even climb a little ways up beside them for a photo.  

This is another quick stop like the Weeping Wall and you’ll likely only need to spend 5-15 minutes here at most.  

12. Sunwapta Falls 

The beautiful Sunwapta Falls from the boardwalk
The beautiful Sunwapta Falls from the boardwalk
  • Type of attraction: Short walk to a viewpoint
  • Time needed: 20 minutes
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 179 km/11.2 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 55.8 km/34.7 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Sunwapta Falls location – click here.

Sunwapta Falls are another powerful waterfall along the Icefields Parkway. There is a large parking lot here and you park pretty much next to the falls so no walking is required. There are a couple of trails around the falls that you can walk to get different views of the falls as well as from the bridge (pictured above) so you can spend as little or as much time here as you want.

The very highly rated and popular hotel Sunwapta Falls Lodge is also located here. For those who want somewhere quiet to stay in nature away from the hustle and bustle of Jasper town, this would be a great option! Many consider it one of the best hotels in Jasper. There is also a restaurant at the lodge that’s open to the public, with that said, both the restaurant and lodge close in the winter months.

Although the nearby facilities close, Sunwapta Falls remains open all year round. In winter, seeing the waterfall frozen is equally as beautiful, in my opinion.

Sunwapta Falls is only 55 kilometers from Jasper town. By the time you make it here you are on the home stretch and nearing the end of your one-day Icefields Parkway adventure. 

13. Goats and Glacier Lookout (Goat Lick)

The Goats and Glacier Viewpoint, Canada, Icefields Parkway
We saw no goats but the views are breathtaking!

Just 15 minutes after Sunwapta Falls is the Goats and Glacier Viewpoint, or what many refer to as the “Goat Lick.” The name comes from the fact that mountain goats are often found here licking the minerals from the cliffside.

When Daniel and I visited last time we weren’t lucky enough to see any goats, we did see the amazing view though which is well worth the stop on its own!

It is just a small parking lot on the side of the road where the viewpoint is located right on the edge of the parking lot. This one is just another quick stop but well worth it if you ask me!

14. Athabasca Falls 

Athabasca Falls with a mountain backdrop on the Icefields Parkway
Athabasca Falls as seen from one of the back viewpoints
  • Type of attraction: Short walk to the viewpoint or join a glacier tour
  • Time needed: 1-3 hours
  • Distance from Lake Louise: 202 km/125.5 miles
  • Distance from Jasper: 32.4 km/20.1 miles
  • Google Maps location link: Athabasca Falls location – click here.

Athabasca Falls is very famous and very impressive. Many people who are just visiting Jasper and have no intention of driving the Icefields Parkway make the 30-minute trip to Athabasca Falls just to check it out.  

This waterfall is crazy powerful, and as such, has created some pretty neat rock formations over the years. To me, it’s easily one of the best places to stop on the Icefields Parkway.  

The falls are easily accessible from the parking lot and there is a short trail you can walk over a bridge to the far side of the falls. Information boards line the walkway telling about the history of the falls as well as the nature around you.  

Athabasca Falls is open all year round and in the winter the falls turn into a frozen winter wonderland. Visiting Athabasca Falls is also one of the best things to do in Jasper in the winter!

15. Valley of the 5 Lakes 

Just one of the Five lakes on the Valley of the Five Lakes trail in Jasper Ntional Park
What a place to relax!

The Valley of the 5 Lakes is a 4.5-kilometer-long (2.8 miles) hiking trail that I absolutely love! It is easy, relatively flat, and takes you in a loop past 5 different turquoise lakes. On a sunny day, the water is super inviting and you’ll likely want to go for a swim. This is definitely a hike that’s best suited for the summer season.  

The only thing about hiking the Valley of the 5 Lakes on your one-day Icefields Parkway itinerary is that you may be running out of time by the time you reach the trailhead. If this is the case don’t worry too much because it is only a short 10-minute drive from Jasper and you can always come back later to hike it.

The Valley of the 5 Lakes is definitely one of the best things to do in Jasper, so even if you don’t get time now, make sure to make time later and come back to check it out!  

Hop tip: If you’re driving from Jasper to Banff along the Icefields Parkway then be sure to get an early start if you want to hike the Valley of the 5 Lakes. Not only will this give you enough time to see the rest of the attractions along the Icefields Parkway, but you’ll also get the trail almost all to yourself! 

Where to Stay on the Icefields Parkway

inside the beautiful Glacier View Lodge on the Icefield Parkway
Imagine staying here with this view!!! Photo Credit: Glacier View Lodge

So you’ve read this blog and have decided that you want more time. No stress, there are a couple of places to stay along the Icefields Parkway.

For budget travelers, your best option is camping. Campsites generally book up months in advance, but sometimes cancellations will free up a spot for a night or two. There are a total of 11 campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway. Find out more about the ones in Banff National Park here, and the ones in Jasper National Park here.

If you’re not much of a camper then your options are a little more limited.

HI Mosquito Creek Hostel is a place we’ve stayed before. It offers dorm and private-style cabins that are heated. There is a communal kitchen and traditional outdoor sauna. This place is perfect for those on a budget, or looking for something a little nicer than camping while still being in nature. It is really a unique place to stay and I would stay there again in a heartbeat.

Your next option is in the best location. The Crossing is the hotel located at Saskatchewan River Crossing, almost exactly at the halfway point along the Icefields Parkway. This hotel is modest with average reviews, but the location is ideal so convenience it what you’re paying for here.

The last option is called the Glacier View Lodge and it’s located at the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre. This hotel is the most upscale along the Icefields Parkway and comes at a premium. However, with every room boasting a mountain or glacier view, how could you go wrong?! Staying here makes it easy to do a glacier tour first thing in the morning or even the Skywalk (before they get busy around mid-day.)

Icefields Parkway Itinerary Tips and Important Info 

Views of the mountains on the Icefields parkway

Before you set off on your Icefields Parkway road trip there are a few important bits of information you should know.  

  • In the winter you are required to have winter tires or use snow chains. Depending on weather and road conditions it can be dangerous to drive the Icefields Parkway in the winter. If you’re not a confident winter driver then I would suggest going on an organized tour with an experienced driver instead of self-driving.  
  • There is only one gas station along the Icefields Parkway and it is expensive. Fill your tank completely in either Lake Louise or Jasper before you leave or your wallet will take a hefty hit at the Saskatchewan River Crossing gas station.  
  • You will need a Parks Canada Pass to drive the Icefields Parkway. Since the Icefields Parkway is in both Banff and Jasper National Parks, you will need a Parks Canada Pass to drive this route. There are gates at the entrance to the highway where you can purchase this, or you can buy it in advance online. Expect to pay about $10 CAD per day per person, or $140 or an entire year for one vehicle of up to 7 people, you can check their website for all of the updated prices.  

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks 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 one day.

  • 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 upfront, 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 of booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Renting a Car in Alberta

The Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park
The Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park

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.

Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a 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 Rental Cars.com. 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!

Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!

If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4-weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

World Nomads is a good option for anybody looking for fully comprehensive travel insurance including things like trip cancellation and adventure activities. They included coverage for over 250 different adventure activities, everything from snowboarding to whitewater rafting! You can also buy the insurance in advance in case your travel plans are interrupted, or, while you’re already on the road. 

We’ve personally used both SafetyWing and World Nomads for different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive.)

It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!

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 $29 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 $12 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 hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!

Before you go…

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at their campsite in Jasper National Park after driving the Icefields parkway!
After driving the Icefields Parkway we checked into our campsite in time for dinner!

And there you have it, an Icefields Parkway itinerary perfect for anybody planning to tackle this amazing stretch of highway in just one day! If you follow this guide, you won’t be rushed and will see all of the best highlights along the way! 

If this blog has helped you out then you might find some of our other Canada blogs helpful too! Or, check out some related blogs below: 

Guide to Planning a Romantic Trip or Honeymoon in Jasper

33 Fun Things to do in Banff, Canada

Banff Itinerary Planning Guide (1 to 5 Days in Banff!)

-Bailey

50 EPIC Things to do in Jasper, Alberta
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