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Jasper National Park

Experience the Icefields Parkway in winter

Wintertime on the Icefields Parkway © Parks Canada / A. Greenberg 

Watch for wildlifeWinter driving safety | Explore along the Icefields Parkway

Known as one of the world’s most scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway boasts exquisite and otherworldly scenery as you travel along the 230-km stretch between Jasper and Lake Louise. Witness incredible snow peaked mountains, ancient glaciers, ice covered lakes and winter wildlife. Before you venture out on the Parkway this winter, please be prepared and check the road conditions reports. Drive with caution and enjoy the breathtaking beauty that awaits you on your journey through ice and time.

Brochure: Experience the Icefields Parkway in winter
Map: The Icefields Parkway Winter Driving Guide

Watch for wildlife

Wildlife safety © R. Gruys

Look out for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, coyotes and deer; they are commonly sighted along the Parkway in winter. Do not feed or approach wildlife, and stay at least 30 meters from all animals. Pets must be on a leash at all times.

Along the Icefields Parkway there’s a 20 km stretch of road that runs through the heart of winter caribou habitat. As one of Canada’s species-at-risk, the Jasper herd of Woodland caribou represents a last stand for this wonderful animal in the mountain parks. You can help. Please “drive for wildlife” and for yourself and passengers by keeping within the speed limit.

Winter driving safety

Winter safety © Parks Canada / A. Greenberg

The Icefields Parkway is no ordinary road, and, in winter, drivers need to consider a few things before starting their trip.To experience the beauty of winter on the Icefields Parkway, winter-worthy vehicles, warm clothing, patience and a little preparation will help ensure a safe and exhilarating journey.

Drive safely along the Icefields Parkway 

  • Plan to start early and complete your drive (with time for exploration and stops along the way) during daylight hours. Snow clearing and maintenance begins at
    7 am and ends at 3:30 pm. Plus, you’ll want lots of daylight to take in all the epic views!
  • Ensure your car has snow tires—look for the snowflake symbol. Snow tires are mandatory from November 1 to April 1.
  • Fill your gas tank and bring extra windshield washer fluid. There are no services along the Icefields Parkway in winter.
  • Have a safety kit in your vehicle that includes: a cell phone (service available on each end of the Parkway but not en route), water, energy bars, candles, extra clothing and blankets.
  • Tell someone your route, when you are leaving and when you plan on arriving.
  • Ensure you are comfortable with winter driving conditions. Drivers should travel based on comfort level and experience.
  • The parkway is not salted so it can often be covered in compact snow. During long periods of stable weather, even sanded compact snow can result in challenging driving conditions.
  • Road reports are based on the worst condition that a driver may encounter over the road’s entire 230 kilometre length. As in any mountain environment, weather can change very quickly, often changing the road conditions.
  • Don’t forget your winter-worthy play gear (warm waterproof clothing, boots, snowshoes, skis, etc.). You will want to stop and explore the magic of winter along the way!

Road conditions
Check www.511.alberta.ca or dial 511 (in Alberta only)

Weather forecast
Jasper 780-852-3185 and Banff 403-762-2088 
www.weatheroffice.gc.ca or www.theweathernetwork.com

Avalanche report 
Be sure and check the latest avalanche conditions at pc.gc.ca/avalanche if you plan to venture into the backcountry. 

Trail reports 
pc.gc.ca/jaspertrails
pc.gc.ca/banfftrails 

Your Park Pass 
The Icefields Parkway was built by Parks Canada as a scenic drive to showcase the powerful natural landscape of Jasper and Banff national parks. A valid national parks pass is required to drive the Icefields Parkway. Revenues from pass sales support maintenance, plowing, sanding and avalanche control. If you’re a frequent visitor to Canada’s national parks and historic sites, consider purchasing a Discovery Pass for unlimited access to many of Canada’s extraordinary treasures. Details and fees are listed at: pc.gc.ca/jasperfees.

More information
Jasper Information Centre: 780-852-6176
Lake Louise Visitor Centre: 403-522-3833
Banff Visitor Centre: 403-762-1550 

Explore along the Icefields Parkway

Winter camping © Parks Canada / R. Bray

Frontcountry Camping

Wapiti Campground
Wapiti is a great campsite for family outings at any time of year. It’s close to town for supply runs and in the winter campers often get first crack at the slopes and cross country trails (because to really appreciate a campfire, you have to use it to thaw your ski boots!)

Whirlpool Campground
In addition to over 25 km of groomed cross-country ski trails that begin from here, this hub offers a winter shelter and winter camping. Camping is available on a first-come, first-serve self-registration basis. There are sites for tents as well as RVs. Note: there is no power or water on-site.

All winter campgrounds are self-registration.

Backcountry Camping

Big Bend
14 km return. Trailhead: Sunwapta Falls, 54.4 km south of Jasper on Highway 93
Rolling along the upper Athabasca Valley, this trail follows a wide fire road. The campground is accessible by skies, snowshoes or fat bike. This trail takes you to a campsite with incredible views of Dragon Peak and the Athabasca River. There are four tent pads, picnic tables, a fire pit and food storage cables.

A backcountry permit is required to camp in Jasper’s backcountry. For more information or to obtain a permit, call 1-877-737-3783 or visit reservation.pc.gc.ca.

Wilcox Winter
Hardy campers who wish to stay in the Columbia Icefields area are permitted to tent at the Wilcox Pass Trailhead. Note that this site is unmaintained during the winter. No water, garbage collection or maintenance services are offered. Please pack-out what you pack in and be aware that snowfall may impact access to privies. Fires are not permitted. After a snowfall, parking areas are ploughed only after all roads are cleared. Campers should be prepared with shovels. The Wilcox Trailhead site requires a bivy permit. Call 780-852-6177 for information.

Stops along the way

 Km from  Jasper  

 Km from Lake Louise 

Valley of the Five Lakes

        Toilets     9 km  221 km
Athabasca Falls Picnic Table Toilets   32 km  198 km
Goat and Glaciers Viewpoints         Toilets

  37 km

 193 km
Sunwapta Fall         Toilets   54 km  176 km
Beauty Creek Hostel          Toilets   85 km  145 km
Stutfield Glacier          Toilets   94 km  139 km
Tangle Falls         Toilets   96 km  134 km
Wilcox Pass         Toilets  106 km  124 km
Parker Ridge         Toilets  112 km  118 km
Weeping Wall         Toilets  124 km  106 km
Howse Pass         Toilets  154 km    76 km
Peyto Lake  Picnic Table Toilets  190 km    40 km
Bow Lake Picnic Table Toilets  196 km    34 km

Hotels/Restaurants/Gift Shops

Hotels, restaurants and gift shops are CLOSED for the majority of the winter. For information on opening dates:
Sunwapta Falls Resort – www.sunwapta.com
Glacier View Inn – www.explorerockies.com
The Crossing Resort – www.thecrossingresort.com
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge – www.sntj.ca

Hostels

All six hostels located along the Icefields Parkway are open in the winter by reservation only. Call 866-762-4122 or visit www.hihostels.ca for information and reservations.