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Powerfully rugged mountain scenery, glaciers, waterfalls and icefalls, and wildlife: the Icefields Parkway reveals all of these and more as it snakes its way along 230 km (143 miles) connecting Banff National Park with Jasper National Park. It is an absolute highlight of the Canadian Rockies.
There aren't any gas stations along the route, so be sure to check the gas gauge before setting out. Although you could drive this winding road in three to four hours, it's more likely to be a full-day trip when you add in stops. The road rises to near the tree line at several points, and the weather can be chilly and unsettled at these high elevations, even in midsummer, so it's a good idea to bring warm clothing along.
Elk, moose, deer, and bighorn sheep are fairly common along this route, and occasionally you can see bears and mountain goats. In summer, alpine wildflowers carpet Bow Pass and Sunwapta Pass.
The most dramatic scenery is in the north end of Banff National Park
and the south end of Jasper National Park, where ice fields and glaciers become common on the high mountains flanking the route (icefields are massive reservoirs of ice; glaciers are the slow-moving rivers of ice that flow from the icefields). Scenic overlooks and signposted hiking trails abound along the route.