Driving the Icefields Parkway

Back to the Canadian hiking vacation recaps today – this one is the second to last one – stay tuned for the finale post next week! The Icefields Parkway (great name, right? sounds so hardcore) is a 230km road linking Banff and Jasper National Parks. We dedicated an entire day to making what could have been a quick 3 hour drive because there was so much to stop and see! From spectacular viewpoints, wildlife, glaciers, and gorgeous hikes, be sure to give driving the Icefields Parkway the time it deserves!

If you’re just joining me and want to see our full trip itinerary, you can see it here: Western Canada Hiking Trip Itinerary. Previous recaps: a weekend in Vancouver + hiking Lake Louise in Banff National Park + Hiking Johnson Canyon and Ink Pots + Hiking Kootenay National Park.

driving the icefields parkway

icefields parkway drive

icefields parkway driving views

Here were some of the big highlights.

1) The wildlife. We saw a bunch of bears – including the grizzly pictured below! Don’t worry, that’s super zoomed in – we didn’t get too close!


2) Taking in the views of Bow Lake…

bow lake canada

…and Peyto Lake (a short easy hike from the road). That water color – stunning!

peyto lake


I wish we had been able to hike down to it but sadly there are no trails!

peyto lake

3) Hiking Mistaya Canyon. Short and scenic!

mistaya canyon

mistaya canyon

4) Lunch with a view. Be sure to pack a lunch – there are tons of turn offs with picnic tables with insanely scenic views right along the road.

where to stop for lunch icefields parkway

This was the view from our picnic table only a little ways off the road. I know, right?!

icefields parkway lunch

icefields parkway lunch spot

Never wanted to leave!


5) Hiking Athabasca Glacier. A short but very steep hike gives you really nice views of the glacier – bundle up because it’s cold and windy up there! If you have time, you can also hire a guide to take you up onto the actual glacier, but you aren’t allowed to hike on the ice on your own. They also offer bus trips up there.

hiking athabasca glacier

hike athabasca glacier



athabasca glacier

Those tiny dots in the distance in the photo below are people hiking up the glacier with a guide! Would love to do that if I ever come back!

hiking on athabasca glacier

6) Tangle Creek. Pretty waterfall at the side of the road – you can do a quick scramble up the left side of the falls if you want to stretch your legs!

tangle creek canada

tangle creek icefields parkway

7) Sunwapta Falls. Quick, beautiful hike!

sunwapta falls

8) Athabasca Falls/River – an easy but pretty hike through some of the falls and down to the river.

athabasca falls hike

athabasca falls

athabasca falls

Take the trail all the way down to the Athabasca River – worth the extra stairs!

athabasca riverP5310261

athabasca river

What’s the most beautiful drive you’ve ever done? This one definitely rivaled those I’ve done in Colorado, New Zealand, and Switzerland!


  1. 1

    Gorgeous scenery!

  2. 2

    Wow! I can see why you’d want to stop and explore those trails, rather than just drive by them.

  3. 4

    Loved this recap! I feel like you guys really did it all ! We also drove the icefields parkway and saw ZERO wildlife..I was soo pumped up and all we saw was construction! Again another reason I’m pumped to go back in the nicer weather! Such stunning pictures!

  4. 6

    Of course I’m amazed by all the stunning scenery and SO JAZZED by how excited you are in these posts! But another matter: where did you manage to get Justin’s PB in packets?? Did you bring with you from the States?

  5. 8

    Definitely one of my favourite parts about my trip to Alberta! Truly spectacular – and we hit some crazy weather in the middle of the summer.

  6. 9
    Roadrunner says

    Only one word is adequate: Wow! Phenomenal!

  7. 10

    I cant get over that water!!! Such amazing pictures!

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