The Icefields Parkway

By Hostelling International / Photo by Walter Lim

The Columbia Icefields, Bow Summit and More

The Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise is one of the world’s most magnificent mountain highways.

Whether you're hitting the pavement by car or bike, you’ll cruise through unsurpassed mountain scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a glimpse of some local wildlife, like grizzly bears, moose and caribou.

The preferred route along the Parkway for cyclists is to start in Jasper, as there are more grueling hills on the northbound route. For cyclists planning on using HI’s Wilderness Hostels along the way, you can arrange to leave food drops at each hostel as you drive up to Jasper from Banff (advance hostel reservations required).

While you’re cruising the Rockies, don’t forget to take the time to stop for a short day hike along the way. If you think the scenery looks amazing from the road, wait until you’re standing beneath a towering mountain cliff and there’s no one around you for miles.

Jasper to Columbia Icefields

Mountain goats, bighorn sheep and elk are common along this 103km section of the Parkway. Highlights include the Kerkeslin Goat Lick, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls.

Columbia Icefields to Saskatchewan Crossing

This 50km section is renowned worldwide for its spectacular scenery, including the Columbia Icefields, Columbia Glacier, and Mt. Athabasca.

Saskatchewan Crossing to Bow Summit

The next 37km of the Parkway takes you through the montane valley bottom of the Saskatchewan River, sub-alpine forests along Mistaya River, and then up to Bow Summit.

Bow Summit to Lake Louise

The last 40km of the Icefields Parkway starts out in the alpine meadows of Bow Summit, the highest point on the Parkway. Highlights include world famous Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, and Crowfoot Glacier.

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