Alberta's Icefields Parkway | Best Western Hotels & Resorts

  

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Exploring Alberta's Icefields Parkway

We’re driving from Calgary to Edmonton with two major detours – Banff and Jasper national parks. This tour of the Alberta Rockies is better known as the visibly stunning Icefields Parkway. Keep that windshield clean, because your passenger won’t stop taking pictures.

Calgary

Start in Calgary, a scenic city set in southern Alberta. Before you even hit the Icefields Parkway, there’s a lot to see in Cowtown.

Must See

A world-famous event, the Calgary Stampede is known as "The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth." Held at Stampede Park, this rodeo/music/food/crafts festival and carnival has been gracing the Calgarian calendar since 1912.

Local Guide

You won’t need much help finding Calgary Tower. Standing at 191 meters, the CalTow was erected in 1968, and is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. Here you’ll find the world's tallest 360-degree observation deck, and a great view of your near-future road trip of western Alberta.

Outdoor

Covering a 13.5-square-kilometers, Fish Creek Provincial Park is known as one of the biggest urban parks on the continent. This free park encompasses Bow River, Sikome Lake, and Fish Creek, and features trails, picnic spots, and even a beach.

Canmore

Set roughly 100 kilometers west of Calgary on Alberta Highway 1, Canmore is found within Bow Valley of the Alberta Rockies.

Must See

Just one of many scenic spots in the area, Grassi Lakes is the emerald of the Canmore crown. By that we mean the Grassi Lakes yields an incredible, almost artificial shade of greenish-blue – and features nearby pictographs and rock climbing to boot.

Local Guide

Check out Canmore’s underground scene with Canmore Cave Tours – a Provincial Historic Site. Choose from excursions like the Explorer Tour and Adventure Tour no matter the weather or time of year.

Outdoor

Stretch out those legs at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park – found just west of Canmore and the site of the cross-country events in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Try cross-country skiing during the winter, and mountain biking and hiking throughout the summer.

Banff

Approximately 25 kilometers north of Canmore, Banff puts you right in the famed Banff National Park – as well as the start of the Icefields Parkway. Be sure to explore the Rockies on foot before you get behind the wheel.

Must See

This is more of a must do, but the Banff Gondola glides to the top of Sulphur Mountain – where you’ll find yourself at 2,281meters. Here is your best view of the Canadian Rockies.

Local Guide

Constructed in 1924, the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse sits at the end of a 5.5-kilometer hike from Lake Louise. The trail features scenic waterfalls and cliff faces, while the teahouse offers sandwiches, hot soup, and fresh tea and lemonade – all in this quaint, historic structure.

Outdoor

What isn’t an outdoor adventure in this area? Choose from hiking the Johnston Canyon & Ink Pots area, or hit the Rockpile Trail from Moraine Lake in the Valley of Ten Peaks.

And if you're a winter traveler, check out the the Banff Norquay ski area, Sunshine Village ski area, and the Lake Louise Ski Area.

The Icefields Parkway continues from Lake Louise, leading wide-eyed travelers to Peyto Lake, Sasketchewan Crossing, and the Columbia Icefields to Jasper.

As the meaty part of the parkway, the 300-kilometer journey features attractions along the way like the must-do Ice Walk, and Athabasca Falls.

Jasper

The city of Jasper sits as the quaint yet climatic finish line of the Icefields Parkway.

Nestled within Jasper National Park, Jasper is surrounded by even more adventure on the parkway.

Must See

One of the most photographed occurrences in nature, Maligne Lake is a breath-taking 22.5-kilometer lake known for its deep-blue colour. No further words can do it justice here.

Local Guide

See the northern regions of the Alberta Rockies from on high with the Jasper Tramway – Canada’s highest and lengthiest aerial tram.

Once you reach the Upper Station from the Jasper Skytram, you can hike Whistlers Mountain, or simply reflect upon your 360-degree view of the dazzling mountains.

Outdoor

Hit the many trails surrounding Mount Edith Cavell, including 3.8-kilometer Cavell Meadows path, and the many trails coursing through Tonquin Valley.

Ice climbing, rock climbing, and horseback riding are also available in the Mt. Edith Cavell area. And if you're up for skiing, don't miss the nearby Ski Marmot Basin.

Hinton

Located 80 kilometers northeast of Jasper along the Yellowhead Highway/Trans Canada Highway 16, Hinton is a quiet yet recreational city found in northern Alberta.

Must See

The three-day Wild Mountain Music Festival is held each July at Entrance Ranch. This annual Alberta rock festival also features kid-friendly activities, food and beer, and arts and crafts vendors throughout the event.

Local Guide

Any outdoor lover should visit the Forestry Service Museum at the Hinton Training Centre.

Outdoor

The nearby Willmore Wilderness Park offers anything anyone outdoorsman could want out of a park. Choose from hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and nature viewing – all just north of Hinton.

Edson

Roughly 85 kilometers east of Hinton, still on Trans Canada Highway 16, Edson grants even more to see and do in outdoor Alberta before hitting the big city.

Must See

Take a break from the road at the Galloway Station Museum & Travel Centre. Check out exhibtis and Edson history after you take advantage of washrooms, free Wi-Fi, visitor information, and plenty of coffee at the ready.

Local Guide

For a chance to stretch your legs without a backpack strapped to your body, hit the public, 18-hole Edson Golf Club. Set on Bench Creek, the course is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., April to October.

Outdoor

The Yellowhead Region of Alberta features plenty of outdoor adventure surrounding Edson. Check out the Hornbeck Cross-Country Ski Area, plenty of kayaking and canoeing, and some of the best fishing in the region.

Edmonton

It’s about 200 kilometers on Trans Canada Highway 16 to Edmonton and the end of our tour. Edmonton – Alberta’s capital and second largest city – is surrounded by communities like Stony Plain, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, and Leduc.

Must See

You deserve a little indoor fun now. Explore the 500,000-square-metre West Edmonton Mall – the world’s 10th largest shopping center featuring over 800 stores.

Local Guide

Explore the many sites of the Old Strathcona historic district. Here you can browse the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market or the Old Strathcona Antique Mall, grab lunch at a sidewalk restaurant, or catch live music over a beer at more than a few quaint pubs.

Outdoor

Choose from over 20 parks within Edmonton’s Parks & River Valley – otherwise known as the North Saskatchewan River valley parks system. Covering 7,400 hectares, the “Ribbon of Green” features 11 lakes, several golf courses, nature centers, zoos, conservatories, ravines – it goes on.

Edmonton is known as the Gateway to the North, so feel free to travel beyond our route suggestions, or try the Icefields Parkway tour in reverse – just remember to have fun out there in the Alberta Rockies.