‘In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.’ – Aristotle
The Icefields Parkway is widely considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world. It runs between the towns of Banff and Jasper and cuts through their respective national parks. It offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies, glaciers, and glacial water. Truly remarkable and views unlike what I had seen on other world class road ways, namely State Route 12 in Utah and Cascade Lakes Parkway in Oregon. I would assume it may be similar to the Going the Sun Road of Glacier National Park, which also includes the Rockies, but I haven’t traveled on it so cannot speak to that.
If you didn’t stop, the road is about 2.5 hours one way. There is a blink and you’ll miss it gas station just outside of Banff (town) in the community of Lake Louise but I missed it, ha! However, there is a gas station at the midway point across from one of their main glacier view points. Gas is expensive and, as I admitted gas required a lot of math, I know this because the station attendant told me. He asked where I was headed and how full my tank was, I told him and my campground in Jasper and he said, should be $20 worth. They also had tasty maple candies in the general store there.
It is also at this site that you can get great views of the famed Columbia Icefield. You can purchase tickets to climb to the top and other viewpoints. I didn’t do either of these things but was able to get the the base of the icefield. It is massive! Being surrounded by the Canadian Rockies and these glacier (the Athabasca is nearby as well), it really helps put things into persecutive. Slow, steady, and we all move at our own pace.
Also, if people are pulled to the side of the road in a random spot, there is probably some wildlife. I spotted a grizzly! Make sure to stay in your car, sticking your head out of your sunroof makes the animal watching much easier, lol.
There is plenty to see and explore on the parkway. Short hikes, some crowds, and stunning views. The full scope of the area can be seen at Peyote Lake, my favorite stop. It just is beyond description. Even looking at my photos, it doesn’t seem real that a place could be that beautiful. While not sure it tops my experiences at the Doubtful Sound, it is pretty close!
If you are planning on visiting the area, leave plenty of time to explore and get gas. Cell phone service is pretty limited. You cross through the boundaries of Banff and Jasper on the drive, so be aware for cellular map purposes. I had put in Jasper National Park and it was only half of the drive (I forgot to do the campground). But highly recommend eating lunch on the banks of glacial water…its good for the soul!