The Icefields Parkway road trip was definitely on our minds whilst in Canada this year being blown away by the epic lakes, hikes and scenery every time we ventured out around where we were based in Whistler. After looking into a 7 day road trip driving over to Jasper and Banff, through the national parks and driving down the Icefield’s Parkway we thought for us that it sounded like the perfect trip! The best time for a road trip in Canada is the spring and the fall due to the mesmerising colours of the flowers and trees changing, not to mention avoiding the possible adverse weather conditions in winter.
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Icefields Parkway Road Trip
Whether leaving Vancouver or Whistler (as we did) this road trip is easily accessible from either. The route can be done straight from Vancouver heading up to Whistler and continue north onto Jasper and down the Icefields Parkway to Banff that way. Alternatively you can almost head straight across from Vancouver to Banff and then head up The Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Both options will provide scenery that will be guaranteed to take your breath away (as an epic road trip should!) but doing the full loop will of course just add that little bit more.
We rented a car from Avis for 7 days and set off taking the route north from Whistler on our Icefields Parkway road trip!
Sunday 6pm; we headed north up highway 99 through Pemberton stopping for a quick dinner on the roadside cafe then we carried on toward Lillooet. Arriving in Lillooet after dark we pitched the tent and stayed the night ready for our early morning dart to Jasper.
Setting off at 5am, we drove through Lilooet north on highway 99 and then onto Kamloops connecting up with highway 97. We watched the sun rise and stopped for a road side breakfast. The road was winding and the scenery stunning, changing slowly and even starting to resemble The Atlas mountains of Morrocco at times. Driving past lakes and through small Canadian towns, we also saw some of the devastation caused by the wildfires during the summer, this part was definitely an eye opening for us.
Connecting up with highway 1-97 the trans Canada Highway and then taking highway 5 North through Kamloops up to Clearwater and onto highway 16 east we were getting ever closer to Jasper. Heading down highway 16 passing Moose Lake and growing ever excited at the scenery which was constantly changing with the biggest wow being our fist sight of the Rockies mountain range.
Shortly after passing Yellowhead Lake we were into Alberta. Arriving in Jasper at 3pm we stopped for a few snaps of some Elk that were grazing at the side of the road as well as lunch and a walk around the town taking in the sights. Seeing some Elk wandering around just outside Jasper was amazing and a big tick off our Icefields Parkway road trip list as we were really hoping we would see some!
After a few hours of wandering round Jasper in total awe of the Rockies that surround the town we set off down to Wapiti Campground for the night, located just south of Jasper 5km down the Icefield’s Parkway.
First stop on our Icefields Parkway road trip list was Athabasca Falls driving down from Jasper (30km) taking the 93 highway route; a beautiful wide, open road on which we felt truly insignificant compared to the huge scenery and mountains around us.
After Athabasca falls we decided to take a wee hike up to Geradine Lookout with the aid of our trusty MAPS.ME it was a close 1km drive to the Geraldine Fire Road then another 5.5km drive up the service road to the trailhead. The shortish 2.4km walk with 210 m incline made for a nice afternoon hike with a great view-point over the Japser National Park valley and Athtabasca river.
Having wanting to scale as much of the Icefields Parkway as possible we headed back north up the highway 93 route for our second night at Wapiti Campground to grab some groceries and supplies from Japser ready to head down the 93A route of the Ice fields Parkway in the morning.
Setting off from Wapiti Campground early morning and enjoying every bit of the drive down the Ice fields Parkway, the views just seemed to get better and better! We stopped at Honeymoon Lake after 48 km to blow up our Kayak for a rather wet & cold but still thoroughly enjoyable paddle.
Further down the road we were greeted by snow (definitely not unexpected in Canada, however in September we were still a little surprised) and yet more exciting winding roads with some great unexpected surprises such as a waterfall just popping out of nowhere at the side of the road. Another unexpected Icefields Parkway road trip treat!
Our next stop was Peyto Lake! We came off the highway and followed the signs to a small car park were you can walk a short while down the trails to a few different viewpoints. Tip – definitely head to the further along viewpoint. A little longer walk but most definitely worth it! This was our first big lake we saw on the road trip and we were instantly blown away! After spending a bit of time admiring the lake (shape like a wolf’s head) and looming mountains we were back in the car to the next stop.
After Peyto a short-ish distance down he road we greeted by Bow Lake which we got out at and had a little lunch and wander around again still n awe of the vastness of the scenery but especially with the glacier situated above the lake. Both highly recommended places on Icefields Parkway road trip!
Back in the Car buzzing from the amazing lakes, awesome drive and stops we made along the way we arrived at Lake Louise Campground our stop for the night!
After chatting on Twitter to fellow travel bloggers A WORLD WITH YOU we had arranged to meet up with Tim for a hike at Moraine Lake in the morning and had decided to take the route up to Eiffel Peak. Getting up there for 7am before the buses arrived was a great shout by Tim and highly recommended for anyone else thinking of heading here. We arrived a bit earlier to have some breakfast on our camp stove only to get half way through cooking our bacon before running out of gas, yes, a serious camping fail! With the beauty, tranquility and grand overshadowing mountains of Moraine Lake it was hard to dampen our spirits so instead we settled on a cereal bar each and took a good hour admiring the beauty and peacefulness with a coffee before meeting Tim for our hike! A place that we spotted whilst we were there which looked like a great spot to stay was Moraine Lake Lodge situated right on the lake with cosy cabins, amazing views and restaurant onsite we both thought how good it would be as a base for hiking and kayaking.
We had more unexpected snow fall for our hike & enjoyed some really spectacular scenery, be sure to check out A WORLD WITH YOUS POST and YouTube video to watch our day in full.
Having spent a few hours hiking and getting our fill of views at Moraine Lake we were back in the car headed with Tim into Banff for a look around the town to also meet Marcella from A WORLD WITH YOU We enjoyed a great dinner, lots of chat about life and travel and afterwards a visit to the Banff hot springs. It was a lovely day and evening spent with new friends who share our love of travel and adventure!
After such an awesome day 5 we work up early, in high spirits for Kellys birthday and headed to up to Lake Louise for breakfast at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This very grand hotel situated on the lake is a perfect spot to stay or to visit for breakfast as we did, taking our time enjoying the great views of the lake from the hotel while enjoying breakfast. With a few shops on site as well you can definitely spend an afternoon or morning have a look around the hotel and enjoying breakfast or lunch in the different restaurants they have on site.
After breakfast we decided to take a walk up to Agnes Tea House located a 3km up and 400m incline from Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise following the path up to the right hand side of the lake. The tea house serving tea since 1905 offers a small menu with a variety of brews and cakes, which are very welcome after the walk up. It is situated on pretty little Lake Agnes, and is a great not to strenuous walk up from Lake Louise with the option to carry on a couple of other hikes should you wish.
We decided after sipping some delicious tea to follow on round the back of the lake up to the mountain ‘Big Beehive’ separating Lake Louise and Lake Agnes giving a awesome views of each from the top but of Lake Louise especially.
Upon reaching the top we sat admiring the view and chatting about what an epic week we have had and how amazing and grateful were to be sitting there. After a few mins I set up the GoPro from behind us, to capture not only the epic scenery but I also proposed to Kelly right there as I had been planning on doing for a while & had decided on this as it seemed like the perfect moment. After Kelly said yes we sat for another hour or so taking the last few hours and our engagement in with massive smiles on our faces.
Yesterday was a mahoosive YES to a lifetime of adventure together!! ????????⛰???? Lucky we are travel bloggers otherwise the perfectly set up @gopro may have looked a little bit suspicious ???? We are so, so happy to announce to the world that we are ENGAGED & are literally on cloud 9 right now! ???? • • • • • #gettingmarried #futuremr #futuremrs #engaged #epicspot #mountainlove #adventuresforever #favouritehuman #soulmates #bigbeehive #canadianrockies #explorealberta #travelalberta #gopro #goprohero4 #landscape_capture #awesome_earthpics #liveauthentically #thecreativeshots #instamountain #optputside #wanderfolks #travelove #travelcouple #travelbloggerlife #adventuretravel #pursuehappy #liveunscripted #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
Later on that night we headed back into Banff for a little Prosseco, amazing meal and stay at Buffalo Mountain Lodge it was the perfect place to celebrate and from which to call all of our family and friends to tell them the exciting news!
We woke up early ready to take the trip back heading to Whistler, this time taking a left after Lake Louise toward Glacier National Park along Trans Canada Highway 1. With scenery changing and new mountains and glaciers to view the drive back was just as exciting as the drive there passing through Revelstoke and back onto Kamloops. From there we retraced our steps almost exactly back through the Lilooet and Pemberton before getting back to Whistler!
After the most epic week we were definitely exhausted but had ticked every box on our Icefields Parkway road trip wish list and even more making for a truly unforgettable experience and the road trip of a lifetime!
Tours can be taken of the Icefield’s Parkway but we would definitely recommend hiring a car or camper van / RV and do it under your own steam. The road trip can be easily done from Vancouver on a full round trip, solo, with friend or family (see maps for routes above) even taking in a few more sights and towns than we did along the way including Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley; a beautiful area of which we have heard really great things.
We really hope you enjoyed reading the story of our Icefields Parkway road trip and find the information we have included useful, if you have any questions please tell us in the comments as we’ll be more than happy to answer them 🙂
You can check out all of our blog posts on Canada right here or if you are heading to Whistler check out Our Money Saving Tips For British Columbia’s Top Resort!
Happy Road Tripping!
Adam & Kelly x
If you are thinking of doing your own Icefields Parkway road trip yourself and are on the lookout for great accommodation deals checkout Booking.com and Skyscanner to plan your own epic Icefields Parkway road trip on a budget……