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The short 3-hour drive between Lake Louise and Jasper is one of the most famously beautiful drives in the world! It passes through no less than two National Parks – Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. Not only that, but you will be treated to views of bright-blue lakes, giant waterfalls as well as an icefield and a glacier along the way.
This 233-kilometer (145 miles) route from Lake Louise to Jasper is called the Icefields Parkway and it is an extremely popular drive, especially in the summer months.
In this blog, I’ve carefully selected 12 of the best stops on the drive from Lake Louise to Jasper. I’ve started this road trip in Lake Louise but of course, you can do it in reverse (from Jasper to Lake Louise) and stop at the same attractions in the opposite order.
About the Drive from Lake Louise to Jasper
The drive from Lake Louise to Jasper is 233 kilometers (143 miles) and will take 3 hours to drive without stops. The route follows one of the most famous and beautiful roads in Canada – the Icefields Parkway! This highway passes through both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.
Even though driving directly from Lake Louise to Jasper will only take 3 hours, there is so much to see along the way that I recommend allowing a full day for this scenic drive. With turquoise glacier lakes like Bow Lake and Peyto Lake to be seen along the way, as well as the mighty Athabasca Falls – it’s no wonder this road trip tops many lists as the most beautiful drive in the world!
The Icefields Parkway is considered an easy drive in that it’s well-paved and well signposted, however, I should note that it’s single-lane traffic the whole way so if you get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle there are limited opportunities to overtake.
Do your research before your drive from Lake Louise to Jasper, and if you plan to drive this route in winter, you will need winter tires! Also, be sure you have a full tank of fuel as there’s only one gas station on this route (at Saskatchewan River Crossing) and prices here are higher than elsewhere!
Also, if you want to complete this drive overnight, you’re going to need to book one of the epic places to stay on the Icefields Parkway. You can choose between gorgeous hotels, budget hostels, as well as campgrounds.
So without further ado, here is my guide to the best stops on the drive between Lake Louise and Jasper.
Important information – You will need a Parks Canada Pass to drive the Icefields Parkway (even if you don’t plan on stopping.) Expect to pay $10.50 CAD per day per person, $21 CAD for an entire vehicle, or $145.25 CAD or an entire year for one vehicle of up to 7 people. You can check their website for all of the updated prices. You can buy this pass at Lake Louise Visitor Center or at the booths at each end of the Parkway.
12 BEST Stops on the Drive from Lake Louise to Jasper
1. Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint
Just under 30 minutes from Lake Louise is your first stop – the Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint. This is just a quick stop and you will simply need to pull your vehicle safely off the road into the designated pull-off bay to see it.
From this viewpoint, you will be treated to an awesome view of Crowfoot Glacier, which is named so because it’s shaped like a crow’s foot! Unfortunately, as the years have passed the glacier has been receding and so the shape of it has changed. Therefore, you may struggle slightly to see the unique shape. Regardless, it’s cool to see a glacier!
The glacier is approximately 1.5 square kilometers (0.6 square miles) and is a great introduction to Canada’s glacier country. Interestingly too, the melt-off from the Crowfoot Glacier feeds the Bow Lake and River (your next recommended stop on this road trip).
2. Bow Lake
A short distance from the Crowfoot Glacier is your next stop – the Bow Lake Viewpoint. In fact, they are so close to one another you could walk (I don’t recommend doing this by the way!) It’s just 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles) between the two. Again, the view can be seen from the pull-over bay on the side of the highway.
Bow Lake is a small lake by Canadian standards, at just 3.2 kilometers squared (1.2 square miles), but boy is it beautiful! Surrounded by the Canadian Rockies and with turquoise water thanks to glacial silt, the color of the lake is especially vibrant in the summer. Which makes it a very popular time to visit the lake.
In the summer to watch out for grizzly bears feeding on the grass near the viewpoint, my partner and I spotted one on our last trip here! So, it’s an important reminder to be bear aware when driving between Lake Louise and Jasper!
In fact, if you have time I highly recommend driving a little further down the highway to the Bow Lake parking lot and walking the short distance to the lake from there. It’s so beautiful to see up close, and a must-stop if you’re a keen photographer like me. In fact, Bow Lake is on my list of one of the most Instagrammable places to visit in Banff. There are also some short walking trails around the lake that lead to several scenic viewpoints!
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 themselves!
3. Peyto Lake Upper Viewpoint
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 Lake Louise to Jasper. This Instagrammable lake sits in a deep valley surrounded by mountain peaks and literally glows blue. The viewpoint, which overlooks the lake, is the perfect vantage point to get that picture-perfect Instagram shot.
One of the things that make Peyto Lake so amazing is the fact that you can drive almost right to the viewpoint – only a short 10-minute walk is required. Because of this, Peyto Lake can be visited at sunset, sunrise, and even at night to get amazing astro shots.
One thing to note is that getting a parking space can be a test of patience. Try to arrive early to ensure that you can get a spot!
4. Mistaya Canyon
Along your road trip from Lake Louise to Jasper, 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 (0.6 mi) walk takes you down to the canyon and along its edge to various viewpoints.
Mistaya Canyon is located a little way further down the Icefields Parkway about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Lake Louise.
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.
From the Mistaya parking lot, it is a 0.5-kilometer-long (0.3 mi) 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 feet) 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.
5. Weeping Wall
Continue on your journey to this next quick roadside viewpoint. Head to a small pullover bay to your left. Just across the road from this pullover bay, you will see the giant Weeping Wall!
It’s a 300-meter (1,000 feet) cliff face on the Cirrus Mountain range which has lots of narrow streams of water flowing down it. This gives the cliff the appearance that it is crying, hence the name – the Weeping Wall!
During the summer is when you will see the water flowing at its heaviest. But in the winter, it’s equally photogenic as the streams turn into frozen crystals from the freezing weather! Pretty cool!
6. Big Bend Viewpoint
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 located 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.
7. Columbia Icefield /Athabasca Glacier
This is one place you absolutely do not want to miss on the drive between Lake Louise and Jasper. The Athabasca Glacier is huge at 6 kilometers squared (2.3 square miles) and is part of the larger Columbia Icefield. 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 (0.6 square miles) in the past 125 years?
There are a couple of different ways to experience the glacier but the best way to see it up close is on a guided tour. The guided glacier tours depart from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center 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!
It costs $104 CAD and lasts around 3 hours.
If a tour isn’t your thing, then you can still get up close to the glacier. Jump on the Athabasca Glacier trail and hike right up almost to the edge of the glacier. It’s only a short 1-kilometer (0.6 miles) hike, but from here you’ll have a better view of the glacier than from the road.
If you want to hike onto the glacier you’ll need to book a tour with a guide due to safety reasons. It’s such an epic activity to discover areas that many people will never set foot on!
If you have the guts you might even be able to hang over a 23-meter (75 ft) crevasse! This experience costs $184 CAD and runs for 4 hours. I think it’s worth the cost for an activity so unique!
Just down the road from the Athabasca Glacier and the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center is the Skywalk. The Skywalk is pretty hard to miss considering it is a massive man-made structure that hangs off the edge of a mountain almost like a weightless bridge. In fact, this glass-floored structure is believed to be so strong that it would hold the weight of a 747 airplane!
If you’re afraid of heights you will find it very nerve-wracking walking along the glass floor. I’m not afraid of heights, and even I was a little fearful. But the views are well worth it, I promise!
To visit the Skywalk you must first go to the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre. From here you will be taken via bus to the Skywalk because there is no parking available there. You’ll be provided with headphones for the informative audio tour. There’s no time limit, but I recommend allowing 45 minutes, and when you’re done the bus will take you back to the Discovery Center so that you can continue on your drive to Jasper.
You can book your Skywalk tickets online in advance to secure your departure time. It costs just $37 CAD per person.
You can book a combined ticket to do both Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier tour in advance online here for $104 CAD. I strongly recommend booking in advance. The last time we visited we made the mistake of just booking when we arrived, and we had to wait a few hours until they could get us on a tour! It was a huge waste of time, so don’t make the same mistake as us!
For more of the best experiences around here, check out the top Icefields Parkway tours!
9. Sunwapta Falls
About 35 minutes along the Icefields Parkway from the Columbia Icefields Discovery Center is Sunwapta Falls. This waterfall is smaller than Athabasca (next stop on this road trip) 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. The waterfall freezes and makes the entire area look like a winter wonderland! In fact, if you’re visiting Jasper in the winter then this is one of the most popular attractions.
Accommodation option: At Sunwapta Falls there is the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge. If you want a quiet wilderness escape, consider staying here.
10. Athabasca Falls
Just 30 kilometers (19 miles) before you reach Jasper town are the mighty Athabasca Falls. Because of its close proximity to Jasper, 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 Lake Louise to Jasper 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!
11. Edith Cavall
Only a short drive from Jasper town is one of the most breathtaking places you can visit in Canada. Edith Cavell Mountain stands tall above a small parking lot, and from the parking lot, you can head off and explore a huge valley spotting avalanches as well as a glacier.
I myself only visited Mount Edith Cavell recently and I am shocked that it’s not written about more. The trail from the parking lot is called the Path of the Glacier Trail and it’s a 1.6-kilometer/0.4-mile return paved trail to a viewpoint of the glacier.
This part of the trail is easily accessible, however, for those who want to take a closer look you’ll need to scramble over rocks. Be careful though, the area is prone to rockslides!
If you want to stretch your legs some more you can also hike the Cavell Meadows trail which is 7 kilometers/4.3 miles return and takes around 3.5 hours.
A visit to Edith Cavell really should be number one on this list and it’s one activity in Jasper I recommend everyone do!
Important info: To reach Edith Cavell head 7 km/4.4 mi south of Jasper on Highway 93 and turn right onto Highway 93A. Then, after 5.4 km/3.4 mi turn right onto Cavell Road. The 14 km/8.7 mi road is narrow and has tight switchbacks that are unsuitable for trailers and large motorhomes. Trailers can be dropped at the entrance to Cavell Road in a designated area.
You’ve arrived! And what a fantastic place to be. Jasper is truly one of the most beautiful areas of the country. It’s an amazing mountain town with stunning scenery and so many different activities to try. You won’t be bored here!
Jasper is fantastic at all times of the year, but there’s something extra special about coming here in December. No matter when you come, you’ll find it’s not as busy and touristy as Banff and has a small-town charm to it. Dan and I have been here many times and no matter when we visit, we always have a blast.
While Jasper is a smaller town, there are still plenty of choices for places to stay. I personally like staying right in Jasper town to be close to everything. Hiking or skiing and other outdoor activities are only a short drive away and then there are lots of options for food and drinks.
While you’re here, these are just a few of our favorite spots and tours in Jasper:
- SkyTram – Get a bird’s eye view of Jasper from the peak of Whistlers Mountain aboard the SkyTram. It’s a large mountain gondola that can carry up to 24 people. At the top of the Jasper SkyTram, you can explore an indoor area, gift shop, and eat at a restaurant with some pretty amazing views. It’s open from April to October and it’s best to book ahead as there are only two trams.
- Maligne Lake – I’ve been here several times and keep coming back – it’s a stunning turquoise-blue lake surrounded by mountain peaks, pine trees, and glaciers. It’s like a photograph came to life and one of the best places to visit in Alberta! I recommend taking the famous Maligne Lake Cruise that showcases the beauty of the lake including the spectacular Spirit Island which is one of the most photographed places in Jasper National Park. There’s so much to do at Maligne Lake, set aside a day or at least a few hours to explore here. Jasper wildlife tours also often visit Maligne Lake.
- Marmot Basin – this is easily one of the most epic things to do in Jasper during the winter! Hit the slopes here, only 20 minutes outside of Jasper, to try out 91 different runs for beginners all the way through to advanced. What’s nice is the variety of runs for all levels from each lift – meaning I can grab a green or blue run to ski down while Dan takes a more challenging black one on his snowboard, but we still can go up the lift together. Marmot Basin is open from mid-November until early May and gets over 400 centimeters (more than 13 feet!) of snow every year.
- Downtown Jasper – Connaught Street is the busiest street in town and a lot of fun to wander around. You’ll probably notice the big train along the road here and the historic train station behind it that is still used today. Stopping at some of the unique shops along here to pick up souvenirs or grab a bite to eat is another great thing to do in Jasper. I love having supper at the rooftop patio at Jasper Pizza Place. The views are incredible (especially at sunset) and the pizza is delicious – it’s one of the many amazing restaurants in Jasper!
- Whitewater Rafting – While you may think this is only for adventure-seekers, whitewater rafting in Jasper is a great activity for the whole family! When you sign-up for a whitewater rafting tour, you’ll be taken to a beautiful stretch of river behind Athabasca Falls. It’s full of Class II rapids (exciting, but not scary!) with towering limestone cliffs all around you. I loved this unique and thrilling way to see Jasper. The rafting lasts about an hour and 15 minutes and bring a towel with you to dry off after!
- Pyramid Island Boardwalk – this spot is stunningly beautiful with mountains reflected in the glass-like waters of Pyramid Lake. It’s a really romantic spot for a walk or picnic if you’re planning your honeymoon in Jasper! The boardwalk out to Pyramid Island is picture-perfect and you’ll get 360-degree views of the mountains.
Where to Stay in Jasper
When compared to Banff (and the dozens of hotels in Banff), there actually aren’t that many 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 just a couple blocks from shops and restaurants, shared facilities, and a friendly atmosphere make it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms ranging from $45 – $179 CAD.
Whistlers Inn (Moderate 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? Because of its reasonable price of $300 CAD or less, it books up quickly so make sure to try and reserve as soon as you can!
You can check prices and availability on Booking.com.
Forest Park Hotel (Moderate to High Budget)
Forest Park Hotel is a great place to stay if you want a comfortable stay for a reasonable price right in town. There are some standard rooms, as well as some units with kitchenettes.
The rate for a queen room with two beds averages around $400 CAD. The hotel has an indoor pool and spa on-site as well as a gym and two restaurants. One is for breakfast and another for dinner and drinks – be sure to order their Detriot-style deep-dish pizza!
You can check prices and book Forest Park Hotel on Booking.com.
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 couples – some rooms have a cozy fireplace to snuggle up around.
There is also a gym and hot tub to make use of! Prices vary based on the time of year but expect a room during the summer to run around $400 CAD a night.
You can check availability and book on Booking.com.
For more detailed info on the best hotels and areas to stay in Jasper, read our blog!
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, 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.
Thanks for reading!
It’s awesome you’re planning for a road trip between Lake Louise and Jasper. After all, the Icefields Parkway is considered one of the prettiest highways in the world! I’m certain that after reading this detailed blog post you will be so excited for this drive, I mean there are so many gorgeous stops along the way like my personal favorites Athabasca Glacier and Peyto Lake.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also enjoy some of my other posts about Alberta, Canada. Some of my favorites include: