Jasper National Park

Icefields Parkway Travel Guide

Directions

From Jasper townsite, proceed west along Connaught Drive. At the intersection of the Yellowhead Highway 16, proceed through the lights straight ahead. From Lake Louise, proceed west along the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). After 3 km, exit and follow the signs.

Icefields Parkway in Winter 
Icefields Parkway in Winter © Parks Canada

Season

The Icefields Parkway is open year round. In the winter time, expect temporary closures (as much as 3 days) after heavy snowfalls as crews clear the highway of snow and avalanche debris. Check conditions before you go.

Time

Driving time from one end of the 230 km parkway to the other varies from more than three to as many as five hours, depending on traffic.

Wildlife Viewing

Opportunities to see elk, moose, goats, sheep, bears and caribou along the Icefields Parkway are excellent. Remember that watching wildlife, especially beside the road, comes with responsibility. For your protection and their survival, please:

  • pull off the road completely or into provided roadside pull-offs;
  • never feed or approach wildlife, this is unlawful in national parks;
  • don't get out of your vehicle (use a telephoto lens to get the 'perfect picture');
  • quickly continue along your way so that others may enjoy the opportunity also.

Safety

summer_icefields 
Icefields Parkway in Summer 
© Rogier Gruys

The parkway traverses high country parallel to the continental divide, crossing two mountain passes and countless avalanche paths. Conditions can change at any time and services along the route are limited, especially during the winter. In the summer travelers should pack four-season clothing and prepare for the unexpected.

In winter: Slow down and watch out for black ice (thin layers of ice covering road surfaces) especially on bridge decks. Obey speed limits and do not stop in avalanche zones. Vehicles should be equipped with winter tires and emergency gear (shovel, flashlight, candles, blankets, first aid kit, food). The use of cruise control is not recommended.

The parkway takes you through grizzly country. Visitors who spot grizzlies, black bears or other wildlife from the road should stay in their vehicles and avoid harassing the animal or endangering their own safety.

Obey all posted speed limits and keep an eye out for cyclists - the parkway is a popular cycle touring route. Pulling over into the shoulder to allow faster vehicles to pass is dangerous and should be avoided.

Learning Experiences

Displays in the Icefield Centre's Glacier Gallery tell the story of glaciers, high-country ecology and the fascinating history of the area. Facilities are open from early May to mid-October.

Roadside exhibits at pull-offs and points of interest explain the wildlife, geology and history of the area.

Tips

The park publication Columbia Icefield, Ice Apex of the Canadian Rockies, is a great publication to take with you to the Icefield. It can be purchased in the Friends of Jasper National Park bookstore in the Jasper Information Centre.

Disabled Access  

Accessible

The Icefield Centre is fully accessible with a long, rather steep ramp on the north side of the building. A courtesy vehicle can be requested for further assistance at the Snocoach desk in the centre.

Highlights

  • Athabasca and North Saskatchewan rivers, Canadian heritage rivers in the area.
  • Athabasca Falls at kilometre 31.
  • Goat Lick near Mt. Kerkeslin at kilometre 38.
  • Sunwapta Falls at kilometre 55.
  • Columbia Icefield, Athabasca Glacier and Icefield Centre at kilometre 103.
  • Sunwapta Pass, elevation 2035 metres marks the boundary between Jasper and Banff National Parks at kilometre 108.
  • The Weeping Wall at kilometre 125.
  • Saskatchewan River Crossing kilometre 153.
  • Mistaya Canyon trailhead kilometre 159.
  • Bow Summit and Peyto Lake viewpoint at kilometer 190.
  • Trans-Canada Highway (end of Icefields Parkway) kilometre 230.

Contact:

Lake Louise Visitor Centre (403) 522-3833
Banff Visitor Centre (403) 762-1550
Jasper Information Centre (780) 852-6176
Icefield Centre (780) 852-6288