Icefield Parkway questions

Old Aug 5th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Icefield Parkway questions

We’ve been reminiscing the Icefield Parkway drive and think we are making a big mistake going from Banff to Jasper in one day. If so, where would one recommend staying along the way and what sites should we not miss? We have a total of 7 days to spend with no lodging booked at this time.
Thank you for your help.
tnmikey is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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There are few places you can stay along the Icefields Parkway.

There are some campgrounds and rustic hostels. Rustic means rustic (as in no showers and indoor toilets).

Aside from that, moving from north to south, here are the places at which you can stay:

* Sunwapta (Falls) Resort

* Icefields Chalet

* Crossing Resort

* Num Ti Jah Lodge

The two places that have the word "resort" in their names are in a different universe from what Americans call a resort. In Canada that term can be, and sometimes is, applied very loosely.

I have heard mixed reports about Sunwapta Resort. Aside from the fact that it is not a "resort" by any stretch of the imagination, I also think that it's a little too close to Jasper. What's the point of staying 40 minutes from Jasper? You may as well stay in Jasper itself.

The Icefields Chalet makes sense from the point of view that it's located at the Columbia Icefields and, as such, is about half way between Jasper and Lake Louise (about 1.5 hours' drive from each). I've heard that the rooms are quite ordinary but quite decent motel-like rooms.

The Crossing Resort also is close enough to the half way mark to be okay. It's about 55 minutes' drive from Lake Louise. It reportedly is okay as motel-like properties go, but it isn't a "resort."

Num Ti Jah Lodge is a simple place, but one with its own charm. However, since it's half an hour from Lake Louise, I again find myself asking what the point of that is. Why not press on to Lake Louise? Still, from the point of view of the actual properties themselves, I think this is the nicest one of the four on this list.

I'll provide a list of attractions along the Icefields Parkway in the next post.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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The lack of really good lodging along the Icefields Parkway is a problem. The motel at the Icefields Center has good rooms, but they are a bit expensive. My son and his family stayed there a couple of years ago and said the rooms were fine but the foot in the cafeteria of the Center was not good.

The Crossing has decent rooms, but when I stayed there they were hardly outstanding. I think two people could be comfortable for a one nighter. The food was mediocre, but not terrible.

I think the solution is to drive it both ways after a short stay in Jasper. That way you pick your attractions going and coming.

I am sure everybody has his or her own list of places to see. My favorites are not obvious: Panther Falls and the Falls of Beauty Creek.

Peyto Lake is one place where everybody, it seems, takes a break and a look. I walked up to the heights above the lake for a rare treat of a long view both north and south.

Of course the glaciers are the big draw. I took the ice coach once and for a first time visitor, I think such a ride is almost required.

Of course there are the standard waterfalls stops at Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls.

Views of the mountains along the way are beautiful, and Endless Chain Ridge is something of a geologic feature to be admired for its slick surfaces.

Parker Ridge, if open, is a nice hike for a view of the Saskatchewan Glacier.
Mistaya Canyon is one of several slot canyons in the Rockies.

Sunwapta Pass provides quite a view down valley from near the top of the pass.

I think the list goes on and on. Certainly there is a lot to see along the route.

If you can, stay over at the Crossing or the Icefields Center, tolerate the food, or cook your own at a nearby picnic ground, but make the sacrifice required to see the beauty of this awesome highway through the Rockies.
bob_brown is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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Things to see and do along the Icefields Parkway (moving from north to south).

* If you take Hwy #93A out of Jasper, instead of Hwy #93, you can visit Mount Edith Cavell. However, since this is 30 minmutes' drive south of Jasper, you could do it on one of your Jasper-based days. Hwy #93A and Hwy #93 converge at Athabasca Falls. From there until the road intersects with Hwy#1 near Lake Louise, it is Hwy #93.

* Athabasca Falls (30 minutes south of Jasper if you don't do the side detour to Mount Edith Cavell)

* Sunwapta Falls (40 minutes from Jasper)

* Columbia Icefields (1 hour 15 minutes from Jasper)

* Parker Ridge, a steep hike that departs from a point south of the Columbia Icefields and that provides a view of the Saskatchewan Glacier

* Mistaya Canyon (2 hours' drive south of Jasper and about 10 minutes' walk from the road)

* Peyto Lake (about 2 hours 15 minutes south of Jasper)

I highly recommend that you get hold of "Parkways of the Canadian Rockies" by Brian Patton. It will enhance your trip a lot.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 01:33 PM
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Sorry, Bob, I didn't see your message when I posted my second message. Didn't intend to repeat what you'd already said.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 01:43 PM
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I might add that if you are a camper, some of the camping areas along the Parkway are above average. The one at Waterfowl Lakes is outstanding.

I would also like to add that my strategy on the first trip was to drive it south to north with a stop overnight at the Crossing. Then, after a stay in Jasper, we drove back to Banff and spent time seeing what I did not see on the way up. Each time, it was a long, but very rewarding day.

Since then, I have driven it again, but with definite objectives in mind: Like hiking all the way to the plunge basin of Bow Falls, visiting the meadows above Peyto Lake, exploring around the Falls of Beauty Creek, and taking my time at Athabasca Falls in an attempt to get a few good photographs.

bob_brown is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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Judy and I seem to have similar ideas. Because I respect her knowledge of the area, I am glad I agree with her evaluations.

I have many good memories from activities along the Icefields Parkway. One day we hiked in the rain to Chephren Lake. I had a poncho that day and was drowned from the waist down. That episode convinced me to buy better equipment - Goretex pants and jacket.
I have never regretted the decision.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 08:24 PM
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If you don't mind a 30 minute drive east off the Icefield Parkway (approximately mid-way between Jasper and Lake Louise, and just east of Saskatchewan River Crossing on the David Thompson Highway #11), you could try Aurum Lodge.
They have a choice of lodge rooms or cabins. The complex overlooks Abraham Lake, is very picturesque, it's not large, is environmentally friendly, and we found it very comfortable and clean. I believe breakfasts and dinners can be booked ahead of time. We stayed there a couple of years ago and really liked it (but we stayed in a cabin & cooked our own meals, so I can't comment on the meals provided).

If you are interested take a look at their website (just Google "Aurum Lodge").
Borealis is offline  
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