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 the 230 km (143 miles) connecting Banff National Park with Jasper National Park. It is an absolute highlight of the Canadian Rockies.
You could drive this winding road in three to four hours, but your trip will more likely take a full day 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. Only one gas station, open seasonally, operates on the parkway, so check your car's gas gauge before setting out.
Elk, moose, deer, and bighorn sheep are fairly common, and occasionally bears and mountain goats come into view. In summer, alpine wildflowers carpet Bow Pass and Sunwapta Pass. The most dramatic scenery is in the northern end of Banff National Park
and the southern end of Jasper National Park, where ice fields and glaciers become common on the high mountains flanking the parkway. (Ice fields are massive reservoirs of ice; glaciers are the slow-moving rivers of ice that flow from the ice fields.) Scenic overlooks and signposted hiking trails abound along the route.