Every traveler ought to stop and smell the roses, literally. Icefields Parkway is one of the most spectacular drives in Canada. On this route, visitors want to experience the majesty of the Canadian Rockies. Beautiful peaks, crystal clear lakes, and towering glaciers make for a breathtaking drive through Canada's Southwest. But that is only half of it. There are several places to stop along the road for some fresh air and natural beauty.
About The Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway offers everything from old glaciers and turquoise lakes to mountain-framed canyons and gushing waterfalls. It’s one of the few road trips where the journey itself is more important than the destination. Traversing through Banff and Jasper national parks, the Icefields Parkway will take travelers through what seems like an unlimited amount of breathtaking natural treasures. It also goes through the Columbia Icefield before connecting the town of Jasper with the community of Lake Louise.
Since winter brings extreme weather conditions and sporadic road closures, summer is the optimum time to take this route. Additionally, most service providers close throughout the winter. Tourists may go trekking, take short nature walks, picnic, camp, or experience spectacular views on the Icefields Parkway.
Due to the high number of impressive attractions, it can be challenging to choose whether to travel the entire Icefields Parkway in a single day, take ample time, or make the trip last several days. All options are enjoyable and provide a distinctive experience.
One day of driving the Icefields Parkway will allow travelers to stop at a number of overlooks, waterfalls, and have a quick stroll.
It’s a great idea to consider driving the Icefields Parkway for two or three days to see more than just the highlights. Tourists can stay at one of the hotels along the way. Another option is staying at a campground along the route. Regardless of the decision, taking the Icefields Parkway will undoubtedly be a wonderful experience.
Icefields Parkway’s Most Scenic Stops
Here are some charming destinations along Icefields Parkway.
Peyto Lake is surrounded by tall peaks with beautiful views of glaciers and snow-capped peaks. It’s also a turquoise lake that's easily accessible and popular with tourists.
Peyto Lake boasts a dazzling show of blue courtesy of Wapta Icefield, located high above. Its viewpoint is one of the most breathtaking in the entire Banff National Park. It’s clear that Peyto Lake rivals other water bodies nearby in terms of beauty.
In the summer, Peyto Lake has a bright blue color. This is a typical natural occurrence in glacier lakes. Glaciers break down rock into flour that is then carried downstream into the lake. The light is then refracted by the rock flour, which emits a striking blue.
Located west of Alberta, Mistaya Canyon is a popular destination for hiking and birdwatching. The trail passes through a beautiful meadow before reaching the canyon itself. Visitors can see it from the Icefields Parkway, but they'll have to hike down into it to explore further than that.
The hike into Mistaya Canyon is only about half an hour long. But there are several steep sections along the way, so hikers must be careful if the decision is to take this route. Adventurers will experience a slow descent through the forest on an old roadbed at the start of the Mistaya Canyon hike. There are also occasional roots and pebbles poking through the dirt along the trail, which is partially shaded by trees on each side.
Vacationers can find Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park, which is located on the western side of Alberta. The falls are reached via a drive that follows Icefields Parkway and then veers south toward Jasper.
Travelers can learn more about the Athabasca waterfall by taking a stroll along the interpretive route that runs alongside it.
Staying on that route while hiking through the canyon allows adventurers to marvel at the deep canyon created by the flowing water. To date, this strong flow is still wearing away the rock bottom a few millimeters each year from several lookouts.
Visitors should cross the concrete bridge and descend the stairs to the base of the falls to witness this amazing phenomenon. Nature lovers ought to take note of the tiny trees, mosses, lichens, and plants that have established themselves in the Canyon's tight cracks.
Waterfowl Lakes Viewpoint
Waterfowl Lakes Viewpoint is a good place to see wildlife. There are some short hiking trails nearby, and it's also close to the Waterfowl Lake picnic area. The view from here is pretty spectacular. Guests can look down at the valley below and see all sorts of birds in their natural habitat.
These sites boast beautiful blue water and lots of camping and hiking options. Waterfowl Lakes are also close to Icefields Parkway, making it easier to get to them whether visitors want to stop at a viewpoint briefly or stay longer. There's also a small parking lot where vacationers can safely leave their cars.
The Icefields Parkway is a great place to get tourists out of their comfort zones and explore some beautiful places in Alberta. There are many stops along this route, and travelers are bound to find something new every time they drive it. The experience is simply worth it.