The drive heading north from the Lake Louise area in Banff to Jasper National Park on 93N, aka The Icefields Parkway, was collectively THE MOST BEAUTIFUL drive we have taken so far, and that is saying a lot as we have been on some gorgeous drives over the past few months! It was pretty much 2 hours straight of amazing mountains, lakes, wildlife, glaciers, and waterfalls. This drive had it all!
We had heard that if going to Banff National Park that Jasper is not to be missed, even though it is a couple of hours north of Banff. We are happy that we heard this, and that we were able to get reservations in Jasper, because it would have been easy to just head back south from Banff and have never made this amazing drive! We would have really missed out!
The first thing that surprised us about this drive was the beautiful lakes that were close to the road. Secondly, the gorgeous mountains were never ending. It views were almost overwhelming. Then, we got to the Athabasca Glacier area. We were so glad that we stopped here at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center. There was a beautiful movie we watched there, a nice gift shop, places to eat, a coffee shop, Wi-Fi, helpful staff with great maps, and many possible excursions to go on from the center. We didn’t end up doing any of the excursions here with the kids, but you can walk up to the glacier on your own, or on it with an excursion. It is also only around $12 a night to dry camp in the pull through RV parking spots in the busy parking lot at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center (52°13’09.7″N 117°13’41.2″W), and would have been a great place to stay a night to take in the mountain, and glacial views, and to give us more time to explore more at this stop, and on the way to Jasper.
If we hadn’t been in our big motorhome on this drive, there were many more pull offs we would have taken, but with the time, we only stopped at the Glacier Center, at a stop called Goats and Glaciers (pics above), and at Athabasca Falls (pics below). All of these spots were easy to get in and out of with the motorhome, and were definitely worth the stop! The mountain goats on the hillside, and the scenery at the Goats and Glaciers stop were beautiful, and the waterfalls and trails at Athabasca Falls were amazing as well.
As we were pulling out of the Goats and Glaciers pull off, we even saw a black bear in the tree line right next to the road (mid-right of pic below)!
As much as we loved the next 3 days that we spent in Jasper National Park, this drive from Banff to Jasper was our favorite part of Jasper, and just as amazing as what we saw in Banff too!