Explore the Icefields Parkway and the Surrounding Rocky Mountains

Icefields Parkway road trips in Canada banner

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic highways in the world. Running through Banff and Jasper National Parks, the road takes in some of the best scenery in the Rocky Mountains. However, there is much more to discover in the Rockies. From Kootenay National Park to the bustling cities of Edmonton and Calgary, spend some extra time in the area to discover all the incredible sights.


Day One - See the sights of Calgary

Calgary skyline in winter

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.

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 Two - Split your time between Alberta and British Columbia

Sinclair Canyon Kootenay National Park

Leave Calgary and head toward Kootenay National Park. 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.

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. 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 Three - Drive to world-famous Lake Louise

Moraine Lake kayaks

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.

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!

Day Four - Take in the scenery in Jasper National Park

Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, Jasper

The Icefields Parkway leads from Lake Louise all the way to Jasper National Park. 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. There are 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. 

Day Five - Stop in at the West Edmonton Mall

Edmonton aerial city view

To break up your journey back to Calgary, make a stop at Canada's largest shopping centre. The centre 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.

If you're interested in learning more about Edmonton, Fort Edmonton Park 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.

Read more: