Table of Contents Show
- About Banff National Park
- About Jasper National Park
- How Long Does It Take to Drive from Banff to Jasper?
- Don’t Miss These Stops When Driving from Banff to Jasper
- Plan Your Route and Stops from Banff to Jasper
The Icefields Parkway is one of the most remarkable drives and connects Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada. You have so many places to stop in this unforgettable landscape.
Unfortunately, unless you have all the time in the world, you won’t be able to see it all. So which ones are worth your time?
Today, we’re sharing the stops you want to take advantage of from Banff to Jasper. Buckle up, and let’s go!
About Banff National Park
Banff National Park is in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. It became a Canadian national park in 1885 and is the oldest and most visited of them all.
If you enjoy spending time outdoors, you’ll have no trouble finding an adventure in the roughly 2,500 square miles. Many consider it a natural paradise for those wanting to explore the great outdoors.
Some of the most popular attractions in the park include Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Banff Townsite. With more than 1,000 miles of designated trails, all skill levels can lace up their hiking boots. It’s one of two fascinating national parks in the region.
About Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. It covers over 4,200 square miles and offers rugged terrain and stunning views that rival its neighbor, Banff National Park.
It’s approximately 1,700 square miles larger and experiences roughly half as many visitors. So if you want to enjoy a similar experience without the crowds, this is the place to go.
Visitors can enjoy views of glaciers, waterfalls, and impressive peaks. Some popular spots include Maligne Lake, Athabasca Falls, and the Columbia Icefield.
It also has more than 600 miles of hiking trails throughout the park. Whether taking a stroll or an overnight trip, the park offers an unforgettable experience.
How Long Does It Take to Drive from Banff to Jasper?
The 140-mile trip from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway only takes approximately three hours to complete. While completing the drive this quickly is possible, we don’t recommend it.
This isn’t the type of drive you want to rush through. It features some of the most breathtaking experiences and once-in-a-lifetime expeditions.
You should spend at least two full days exploring. This allows you to enjoy the route leisurely and stop and take pictures. As you’ll soon see, this trip has an incredible amount of experiences that you won’t want to miss.
Don’t Miss These Stops When Driving from Banff to Jasper
With so many places to stop from Banff to Jasper National Park, narrowing your options can take time and effort. However, we have several you’ll want to hit along the way. Let’s take a look!
Lake Louise is one of Banff National Park’s most photographed and iconic locations. If you’ve ever seen pictures from this park, it most likely features Lake Louise. Massive mountains surround its turquoise waters, and visitors flock to photograph and explore it year-round.
The lake is a hotspot for aquatic activities like canoeing and kayaking during the summer. You’ll also find plenty of trails around the lake for those who want to enjoy the water from a distance. No matter when you visit, Lake Louise can be a magical experience.
Peyto Lake is another turquoise lake that attracts many visitors. It receives its name to honor Bill Peyton, one of the area’s early trail guides. The lake sits just off the Icefields Parkway and doesn’t require you to go out of your way.
Getting the entire experience and genuinely appreciating the area’s beauty requires a short hike to Peyto Lake Viewpoint. This provides an epic view of the lake and the surrounding mountain range.
During the summer, the bright blue-green colors are in full effect. Sadly, pictures don’t do the landscape justice. This is one of those locations that you need to see to believe.
Mistaya Canyon is another must-see stop while driving from Banff to Jasper. The canyon results from thousands of years of erosion from the Mistaya River. Visitors can find a spot in the parking area and hit the trail.
This dirt trail has exposed rocks and roots, so wear sturdy shoes. It only takes about 10 minutes to reach a bridge that crosses the gorge. This is the best and safest place to enjoy the view. While you can find other spots to take in the view, they have no guardrails.
Even if you’re being careful, you could easily slip on the rocks and end up in the rapids. Do yourself a favor and enjoy the view away from the edge. It isn’t worth risking your life.
The Columbia Icefield is one of the largest icefields in North America. It covers approximately 125 square miles and is roughly 1,200 feet deep.
Visitors can experience a unique piece of history, as its home to a 10,000-year-old glacier. If you’ve ever dreamed of walking, touching, or drinking straight from a glacier, this is your chance.
Your adventure here will start at the Glacier Discovery Centre. Various interpretive displays can educate you on the area after you check in with rangers.
You’ll eventually have the opportunity to board an all-terrain Ice Explorer and head out to get an up-close look at the glacier. This is an unforgettable journey back in time.
Water features are a big part of traveling from Banff to Jasper, and Sunwapta Falls is part of that. This water feature’s name comes from the Stoney First Nations language and means “turbulent water.”
The Sunwapta River quickly narrows into a tiny canyon, with water surging out the other side. It’s an impressive site to see as it demonstrates the tremendous power of water.
Various viewing platforms along the trails allow visitors to take pictures and take in the scene. While the Lower Falls viewpoint allows guests to get close and feel the force, the Upper Falls viewpoint provides a breathtaking view of the entire waterfall.
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Athabasca Falls is one stop you don’t want to miss if you’re chasing waterfalls. This is one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies.
It receives its power from the quick-flowing Athabasca River. A series of cascades, chutes, and other features make this an inspiring sight.
Luckily, one of the best views of the falls only requires a short 0.6-mile hike on an out-and-back trail. It’s paved and perfect for kids and those looking to experience the beauty of Athabasca Falls.
However, because of the remarkable view, you’ll want to arrive early to find a parking spot.
Athabasca Glacier Viewpoint
If you want to experience a unique view of Athabasca Glacier, this viewpoint makes it possible. Rugged slopes from mountains surround the glacier that carved much of the area. Visiting the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center is the easiest way to access the viewpoint. It’s a short 30-minute hike along a well-marked trail.
Unfortunately, you can’t get up close and personal with the glacier. You can only see a fraction of the ice field. However, many feel awestruck by the view from here.
Mount Edith Cavell
The next stop to make on your Banff to Jasper trip is Mount Edith Cavell, which has an elevation of 11,033 feet. Its name comes from a World War I British nurse who sacrificed her life to help 200 Allied soldiers escape Belgium. The mountain has several glaciers, the most notable being Angel Glacier.
Visiting Mount Edith Cavell provides several hiking opportunities. You can enjoy a variety of trails where hikers can spot alpine wildflowers during the summer.
This is the perfect spot for anyone looking to surround themselves with nature and serenity. It can feel like paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
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Finally, once you arrive in Jasper National Park, take the opportunity to ride the Jasper Skytram. It takes you to the highest point in the city for a stunning view of the surrounding landscapes. A trip to the top of Whistlers Mountain provides you with the opportunity to see six mountain ranges.
The gondola car holds between 20 and 24 individuals and is dog friendly. The climb and descent take approximately seven minutes. Trams depart every nine minutes, but you must reserve a spot for a specific time. We recommend doing this in advance to avoid potential issues.
How much time you should build into your schedule will depend on what you want to do once you reach the top.
The entire experience includes the flight, a hike, and a stop at Summit Cafe. This takes approximately two to three hours. However, most guests typically spend an hour or two here.
Plan Your Route and Stops from Banff to Jasper
As you can see, there’s quite a bit packed into the roughly 140 miles from Banff to Jasper National Parks in Canada.
Hopefully, now that you have read through our can’t-miss stops, you have a better idea of some to add to your itinerary. The Canadian Rockies have endless outdoor adventures, stunning scenery, and wildlife galore.
What stops will you choose for your adventure? We can’t wait to hear about your trip!