The Icefields Parkway drive stretches over 144 miles from Banff to Jasper, and it’s the most gorgeous road I’ve ever been on (which is saying something since we drive Going to the Sun road several times a year)! The drive is filled with over 100 glaciers, numerous waterfalls, and breathtaking, glacial colored lakes. Today, I’m taking you on a tour through the first half of this drive up to the Saskatchewan River Crossing.
In the first 4 photos are the views you can see around the Crowfoot Glacier area.
The Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is situated on Bow Lake, (40km or 25 miles from Lake Louise) and offers refreshments at a small café. There is also a restaurant that opens for dinner if you’re in the area. Accommodations, refreshments, and fuel are limited along the Icefields Parkway so it’s best to keep stocked up! It also takes forever to get from one place to another (not that you’d want to hurry it’s just good to know that it’s a long ways between each area of civilization). From Banff, all the way through to Jasper, it took us about 4 hours without stopping for all the scenery lookouts. Definitely be prepared to spend a day or two making your way through the main sites of this amazing area, (we saw about 1/2 half the sites on the way up and the rest on the way back). We were in this area a total of 5 days and barely scratched the surface, (can’t wait to go back)!
The Saskatchewan River Crossing is located 1/2 way between Banff and Jasper, they offer fuel, lodging and other amenities. From here, it’s at least another 2 hours before a gas station, so stock up!
Visiting from Banff up into Jasper was awesome all the way around, but I think it was even better with the fall colors! I’m partial to fall anyways with crisp cool mornings and warm afternoons making it perfect for hiking. The oranges and golds are extra colorful when their backdrop is glacier fed lakes.
Peyto Lake (above picture) is a popular side trip, with a lookout just 1 km from the parking lot. Even though this area is pretty busy, the view is worth it. We were lucky enough to see it with a fresh snow dusting. There is a side trip you can take once you get to the Peyto Lake lookout, follow the signs for the loop trail (another trail branches off from here and leads to Bow Lake Lookout) for an even better and less crowded view of this turquoise beauty.
I mentioned this in my Lake Morraine post, but it’s totally frustrating not to be able to capture the whole scene before you, especially when it’s so spectacular! If your DSLR camera isn’t full frame, be sure to bring a point and shoot/phone/iPad that can give you the whole scene in one picture. I’m itching to go back and take pictures now that we’ve upgraded to a full frame camera!
See you soon for Part 2 of the Icefields Parkway Drive!