When you’re unfamiliar with a country, it can be difficult to know where to begin. But one of the best ways to get acquainted is by exploring its stunning scenery.
One of the world’s most stunning scenic routes is the Icefields Parkway, passing through Banff and Jasper National Parks. Here you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of turquoise lakes, glaciers, and waterfalls.
1. Banff National Park
Banff National Park, nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, is one of Canada’s premier scenic destinations. Here you can enjoy hiking, skiing, and backcountry adventure all year round!
Banff is the ideal base for exploring both Banff National Park and its surrounding area. This classic Rocky Mountain resort town boasts numerous cultural landmarks, museums, art galleries, and historic sites that make it worth visiting.
This region boasts breathtaking scenery, featuring ethereal glaciers and turquoise-colored lakes and rivers. A popular route from Banff is the Icefields Parkway which passes through several parks and provides plenty of activities to discover.
2. Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park, nestled in Canada’s majestic Rocky Mountains, is an outdoor enthusiast’s haven. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 2.7 million acres of protected wilderness where visitors can hike over 1,000 km of trails, view glaciers up close or relax in hot springs.
Experience the breathtaking landscapes of Jasper’s landscape on a wildlife tour or take in the thundering thunder of Sunwapta Falls, gaze upon Mount Edith Cavell’s peaks, hike Maligne Canyon or spot some wild animals during your adventure.
Winter in Jasper offers visitors a wealth of activities to do, such as snowshoeing, skiing, ice climbing and fat biking. If you’re seeking something truly adventurous, Rockaboo Mountain Adventures’ six-hour ice climbing tours in Jasper are an excellent choice.
3. Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Canada’s iconic mountain setting, offers breathtaking views of towering peaks and turquoise glacial waters. With an abundance of trails available, this destination is perfect for hikers and mountaineers alike.
Lake Louise’s water takes on a vibrant blue hue due to rock flour released as glaciers melt, an incredible sight that you won’t find elsewhere!
The most popular way to reach Lake Louise is via the breathtaking Icefields Parkway. This 144-mile (232 km) road has earned itself a reputation as one of Canada’s best drives, connecting Jasper National Park to Banff National Park.
No Canadian Rockies vacation would be complete without visiting this iconic attraction, and we can include it as part of your itinerary with us. However, be aware that parking can be scarce during peak summer season; be prepared!
4. Lake O’Hara
Hikers can enjoy a number of stunning day hikes, such as the breathtaking Alpine Circuit. This loop takes hikers past small picturesque lakes, through Opabin Plateau and up to an incredible viewpoint at Wiwaxy Gap.
The great thing about this wilderness area is that it’s protected, so you won’t have to worry about noisy tour buses or disruptive tourists. However, you will need to obtain a permit in advance and it can be challenging to secure one.
Lake O’Hara is an idyllic lake located within Yoho National Park, one of Canada’s most stunning reserves. A quota system limits visitors to ensure an authentic and serene experience in this untouched wilderness.
5. Maligne Lake
Maligne Lake, a glacier-fed lake located within Jasper National Park, boasts turquoise glacial waters and majestic mountains rising on the horizon. It’s one of the most popular attractions for hikers and canoers alike in this part of Canada.
Maligne Lake offers several ways to explore, such as taking a guided tour and going on a boat cruise. Alternatively, you can rent your own personal watercraft for an unforgettable day on the water like kayaks or canoes.
On our 90-minute boat cruise through Jasper National Park, we visited Spirit Island 14 km up the lake. It was undoubtedly our highlight and a must-see during our stay.