Visitors from around the world flock to discover the Icefields Parkway. Running through Banff and Jasper National Parks, the road takes in some of the incredible scenery in the Rocky Mountains. However, there is much more to see in the Rockies. From Kootenay National Park to the bustling cities of Calgary and Edmonton, VroomVroomVroom has put together a five-day itinerary to help you spend some extra time and witness other jaw-dropping sights in Alberta.
Calgary is more than the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, it is one of Canada's most lively cities. If you are visiting during the Calgary Stampede, you'll see how well the city puts on a show. However, Calgary is an exciting city to visit at any time of the year. One of the best places to take a walk in the city is Prince's Island Park, set alongside the Bow River. Not to be missed also is the iconic Calgary Tower, which is a must for every visitor in Calgary. Experience the city from the top and make sure to conquer your fear by stepping on the glass floor of the tower.
There are also plenty of places to learn more about how the city developed over the years. The Heritage Park Historical Village is a living history museum which lets visitors walk through authentic villages as they would have been in the 1800s.
For some more recent history, visit Calgary Olympic Park, the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The Sports Hall of Fame is a great way to learn more about the event.
Day 2: Enjoy a relaxing hot spring soak in Banff
Leave Calgary and head toward Kootenay National Park, which is only a two-hour drive via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W. On the way, make a stop in the resort town of Banff. One of the most popular activities in the town is to spend some time relaxing in the Banff Hot Springs. The springs are open year-round, providing visitors with a unique way to enjoy the mountain scenery.
Visit two of the region's most beautiful national parks: Yoho and Banff. Yoho National Park may not be as well-known as Banff, but it has its own share of emerald lakes, waterfalls and mountain scenery. One of the most impressive waterfalls in the park is the 30-metre tall Wapta Falls.
Dedicate the rest of the day to exploring Kootenay National Park. The park is unique to all of its neighbours, as it contains unusual scenery, including the orange ochre Paint Pots just off the highway. Take a quick hike around the spectacular Sinclair Canyon Pass near the entrance to Radium. You'll also be able to stand in both Alberta and British Columbia at the Continental Divide. The road through Kootenay will take you through canyons, and provide great views of the surrounding valleys.
Day 3: Indulge in a sightseeing tour in Lake Louise
Lake Louise Highlights
Lake Louise is less than an hour-drive from Banff via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W. One of the highlights of the Rocky Mountains is the inspiring Lake Louise. The lake looks dramatically different depending on what season you are visiting, but in summer it shines turquoise.
Take some of the surrounding hiking trails to enjoy the lake from different viewpoints, and keep an eye out for local wildlife like grizzly bears! Or you can indulge in adventurous activities and sightseeing options.
Don't miss out on sipping a cocktail at the Lakeview Lounge and simply take in the stunning views of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier.
Day 4: Ride the Jasper SkyTram
The Icefields Parkway leads from Lake Louise all the way to Jasper. The drive usually takes around three hours by rental car from Lake Louise via AB-93 N. The road will take you past classic sights like the impressive Peyto Lake, and the largest icefield in the Rockies. For an introduction to the huge Columbia Icefield, visit the local Discovery Centre.
There is plenty to see and do in Jasper National Park. Many visitors choose to take a cruise to the picturesque Spirit Island on Maligne Lake. Choose from plenty of hiking trails taking you to lakes, glaciers and fast-flowing rivers. The area is also one of the largest Dark Sky Preserves in the world, so on a clear night you'll have a great view of the stars.
You may also want to check out and ride the Jasper SkyTram for breathtaking views across Jasper National Park.
Day 5: Find serenity at Fort Edmonton Park
Alberta's capital city is only a four-hour drive from Jasper via AB-16. Edmonton offers plenty of things to do. If you're interested in learning more about Edmonton, start your day at Fort Edmonton Park. It has a number of reconstructed buildings that show visitors what life would've looked like in the city in the 1800s. Ride a horse-drawn carriage and walk along a pioneer town street.
Make a stop at Canada's largest shopping centre. The mall features hundreds of shops as well as a movie theatre, ice rink and even an indoor water park. If you're travelling with children, they'll find plenty to keep them entertained at the centre's amusement park.
Other top-rated tourist attractions in Edmonton include the Alberta Aviation Museum, The Art Gallery of Alberta, Royal Alberta Museum, Elk Island National Park & Beaver Hills, Legislature Building, Art Gallery of Alberta and Edmonton Valley Zoo.
Do you know that you can download this map directly to your phone? Press the box symbol located on the top-right corner of this map to open in your Google Maps app. Now you can easily access this map on your next road trip adventure from Calgary to Edmonton.
Travel time and distance: 2 h 54 min (298.9 km) via AB-2 N