Ultimate Road Trip Guide to the Canadian Rockies

The ultimate Canadian road trip has to include some time spent in the amazing and unbelievably stunning regions of the Canadian Rockies. From abundant wildlife to snow-capped mountains, giant glacier fields, and magical blue lakes, the ultimate road trip in the Canadian Rockies should be on your bucket list. 

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Ultimate road trip guide in the Canadian Rockies
Guide d'itinéraire de voyage dans les Rocheuses canadiennes

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Where are the Canadian Rockies?

The Canadian Rockies are in western Canada, from the US border running north in western Alberta and eastern British Columbia into the Yukon Territory. 

How long do I need for a Road Trip in the Canadian Rockies?

I recommend three weeks to fully enjoy much of what this region has to offer. However, there is much to see and do in the Canadian Rockies. You could spend months exploring this vast territory. But whether you have just a few days to a few weeks, anytime spent in the Canadian Rockies will be an unforgettable experience.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Canadian Rockies?

The best time to visit the Canadian Rockies will depend entirely on the activities you plan on doing. Summer, from June to September, is perfect for hiking, swimming, horseback riding, kayaking and most sightseeing activities. However, July and August are the busiest, so expect crowds if you visit during those months.

Winter also sees its share of visitors, where many skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, skating and dogsledding opportunities are available. Snow and ice arrive early, sometimes by October, and linger well into May. This one-week winter itinerary in the Canadian Rockies provides all the information you need to plan an amazing trip full of outdoor winter activities.

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 1: Canmore


Where is Canmore?

Canmore is a small town in Kananaskis Country, Alberta. The mountains of the Canadian Rockies surround this charming community. It is about an hour (or 100 kilometres) west of Calgary, AB or four hours (or 390 kilometres) south of Edmonton and a nine-hour drive (or 850 kilometres) from Vancouver, BC. 

A bit of History

Canmore area is known as “Chuwapchipchiyan Kudi Bi,” or “shooting at the willows,” translated from Stoney Nakoda. The name Canmore came in the 1800s, originating from Gaelic Ceann Mór, translated as big head or chief, explaining the sculpture of the big head in downtown Canmore.

The Big Head sculpture in Canmore Alberta

Hiking in Canmore

There are numerous family-friendly hikes near Canmore. This article lists the best hikes in Canmore that can be enjoyed as a family or by hikers of all levels; they are primarily easy walks with beautiful scenery. 

My favourite easy hike in Canmore is the River Walk that follows Bow River and features the impressive old train bridge. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk Trail that wanders through town with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. 

Looking at the Bow River from the old train bidge in Canmore Alberta

If you are searching for a more challenging hike, you can choose from one of the scrambles to the summit of the mountains surrounding Canmore. All peaks from this peak-bagging list are challenging hikes but so rewarding. 

One of my favourite challenging hikes in Canmore is the East End of Rundle Route. The views are amazing, and the mountain is impressive.

Pausing on a hike in the Canadian Rockies

What to do in Canmore (besides hiking)


Where to Stay in Canmore (my recommendations)


Where to Eat in Canmore?

My favourite is the Grizzly Paw Pub and Brewing Co. We loved the atmosphere, good music, great food and friendly staff.

We also had breakfast and lunch at Graze Food and Drink. It has good food and excellent service.

The Iron Goat Pub and Grill is highly recommended for its fantastic food and service.


Don’t Miss

Three Sisters Lookout Trail is a one-kilometre loop considered an easy hike. It brings hikers to a viewpoint at a pond with the Three Sisters Peaks in the distance. The scene is a nice reward for minimum effort! Park across the street from the off-leash dog park on Bow Valley Trail.

The iconic Three Sisters Peaks in the Canadian Rockies
Three Sisters Lookout in Canmore

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 2: Banff


Where is Banff?

The touristic town of Banff sits nestled in the Canadian Rockies. It is 20 minutes (25 kilometres) north of Canmore on the Trans-Canada Highway or 120 kilometres east of Calgary, Alberta.

A Bit of History 

Banff was established at the foot of a small mountain named Tunnel Mountain. It was called as such because the plan was to dig a tunnel through the mountain for the railway to cross the mountain that stood in its path. The plans changed, and the railway was built elsewhere, but the name stuck. This small mountain, more of a hill, is surrounded by impressive mountains like Rundle, Cascade and Norquay. It is also known as the Sleeping Buffalo because of its shape.

View of Tunnel Mountain seen from the Norquay Mountain in Banff National Park

Hiking in Banff 

There are numerous family-friendly hikes in Banff. My top hikes that can be done with children are the Tunnel Mountain Trail and the Johnston Canyon Hike. 

C-Level Cirque Trail is another hike I enjoyed in Banff. The walk near the old building ruins and mineshafts in the forest was interesting, and the view of the cirque was impressive. Hikers can keep going through the woods on a steep path that leads to a lookout of Minnewanka Lake and the surrounding mountains. This is a 9-kilometre moderate hike.

The lookout on C Cirque Level Hike in the Canadian Rockies

If you are up for full-day challenging hikes, popular ones are the scramble to Mount Rundle’s summit or the trek to the top of Cascade Mountain. Both are difficult but very rewarding, with magnificent views from the top.

View of Banff and Cascade Mountain from Mount Rundle's summit

What to do in Banff (besides hiking)

Tourists kayaking and swimming in Lake Johnson in the Canadian Rockies
Johnson Lake
Cave and Basin Historic Site

Camping in Banff

  • Tunnel Mountain Village Campground
  • Two Jack Main Campground
  • Two Jack Lakeside Campground

I appreciated my stay at the Two Jack Main Campground. It offers beautiful campsites in a wooded area for an authentic camping experience.

I stayed a couple of nights at the Tunnel Mountain Village Campground. This campground was well-maintained and closer to the town of Banff. The location of Tunnel Mountain Village is practical, but I enjoyed the secluded Two Jack Main Campground.

These two campgrounds are busy during the high season. Therefore, I highly recommend booking a site in advance.


Where to Eat in Banff?

  • Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar has a fantastic ambiance, an excellent drink selection and tasty food. You can sit on the second-floor patio and enjoy the surrounding mountains.
  • The Canadian Brewhouse is a favourite among tourists and locals for its ambiance and food. The service is excellent, and the appetizers are original and delicious. This is the place to be if you want a sports bar.
  • I enjoyed eating at the Banff Ave Brewing Co. The pub’s staff was friendly, and the food was great.

Don’t Miss

Spend time relaxing on the beach by Minnewanka Lake and walk along the shore to admire the lake and the mountains surrounding it. This is one of my favourite spots in Banff.

Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, a popular tourist attraction in the Canadian Rockies

The Banff Gondola will take you to the top of Mount Sulphur, where you can enjoy the fantastic views. There is a boardwalk that leads visitors across the summit. The gondola terminal also has a souvenir shop, a restaurant and an engaging, interactive exhibit about the Canadian Rockies.

View of the Banff Gondola Terminal from the boardwalk at the summit of Sulphur Mountain

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 3: Kootenay National Park

While staying in Banff, we hopped over the border to British Columbia to explore Kootenay National Park for a few days. Kootenay National Park is a mixture of mountains, canyons and grasslands with great outdoor activities and wildlife viewing opportunities.


Where is Kootenay National Park?

Kootenay National Park is 50 kilometres northwest of Banff. From Banff, take the Trans-Canada Highway north and exit west on the Banff-Windermere Highway (Hwy 93). Not too far after the British-Columbia/Alberta border, you will notice the entrance sign for Kootenay National Park.

Scenic view in Kootenay National Park during a road trip in the Canadian Rockies

Hiking in Kootenay National Park

Marble Canyon to Paint Pots

  • Distance: 6 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 110 m
  • Estimated time: 2 hours
  • Rated easy
  • Trailhead: parking at the Marble Canyon trailhead or the Paint Pots trailhead on Highway 93

This trail connects two interesting attractions. The Marble Canyon is a wonder as you hike along the rim and on bridges above the canyon. The Paint Pots are a different sight, with the minerals colouring the rocks around them—plan for a muddy trail for this part. 

Dog Lake Trail

  • Distance: 5 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 300 m
  • Estimated time: 1.5 hours
  • Rated easy
  • Trailhead: from the Dog Lake day-use area on Highway 93

This trail is a nice and easy walk through the forest over the Kootenay River and down to the lake. It is the perfect place for a picnic while enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains.

Stanley Glacier Trail

  • Distance: 11 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 615 m
  • Estimated time: 3 hours
  • Rated moderate
  • Trailhead: from the Stanley Glacier parking lot

My absolute favourite hike in Kootenay National Park. The first part of the trail is through a forested area. Once out of the trees, the view opens up to high cliffs, waterfalls and the glacier. I recommend hiking past the maintained trail to enjoy the glacier in full view. This will involve a bit of scrambling, but the views are stunning.

You can hike this trail with a guide as part of the Burgess Shale fossil hikes.

Stanley Glacier as seen from the trail in Kootenay National Park
The end of the trail in the valley on the Stanley Glacier Trail in Kootenay National Park

Attractions

Radium Hot Springs: unwind and relax in the hot pool at Radium Hot Springs. Open year-round, no reservations needed. 

Stop at the Numa Falls day-use picnic area. Have a picnic by the Vermillion River. A mere 300-meter walk along the river will bring you to the bridge over the river, where you can admire the falls.

Looking at Numa Falls from the bridge over Vermillion River in Kootenay National Park

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 4: Lake Louise


Where is Lake Louise?

Lake Louise Village is 60 kilometres north of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is coveted for its emerald blue lakes and famous hiking trails. It is also from there that the famous Icefields Parkway begins.

A bit of History

The Lake Agnes Teahouse was built in 1901 as a refuge for hikers. It started serving tea and coffee in 1905. The Lake Agnes Teahouse is a famous destination for today’s hikers and can be reached hiking from the shore of Lake Louise. If you visit this charming teahouse, you might want to consider volunteering to lend a hand in bringing some garbage back down the trail, as the employees have to haul the provisions up and the trash down every day.

Agnes Lake Teahouse busy with tourists in the Canadian Rockies

Hiking near Lake Louise 

There are too many hiking trails to name them all, but this list of family hikes includes the best of the easy trails around Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. 

Planes of Six Glaciers and the Agnes Lake Teahouse are the most popular and often very busy trails from Lake Louise, and for a good reason. They both offer amazing views and fantastic hiking adventures. The Big Beehive is a highly recommended hike with stunning views of Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. 

The Big Beehive behind Mirror Lake near Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies

If you want a more challenging hike from Lake Louise, try scrambling Fairview Mountain or Devil’s Thumb. Both are unique challenges with gratifying views once at the top.

For the peak bagger readers on here, you can find more scrambles on this list of mountains to climb while you are in the area.


Hiking near Lake Moraine

Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass is a challenging hike, but the valley is amazing. And if you are up for a scramble, try your feet at Mount Temple. Note that this is a full-day challenging scramble for experienced hikers and scramblers. 

Larch Valley with the Ten Peaks in the distance in the Moraine Lake area in the Canadian Rockies

The Tower of Babel is rated an easy scramble, though it is physically challenging. The short hike brings you to the plateau of the tower, where the views are astounding. 

View of the Ten Peaks and Moraine Lake from the summit of the Tower of Babel

For a more leisurely hike, I recommend the Consolation Lakes Trail. This trail brings hikers to the lakes in a valley surrounded by mountains. Be aware of restrictions on this trail depending on the time of year because of bear activity.


What do to in Lake Louise (besides hiking)

  • Summer Sightseeing Gondola at the Lake Louise Ski Resort
  • Wildlife Interpretive Centre (free with the purchase of the Gondola ticket)
  • Visit Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
  • Visit Moraine Lake. As of the 2023 season, Moraine Lake will no longer be accessible by personal vehicle. Visitors will need to use a shuttle to get to Moraine Lake. More information here
  • Rent a kayak to paddle Lake Louise or Moraine Lake. You can rent the equipment on-site.
  • Enjoy one of the many biking trails. The Pipestone Loop is an easy and wide mountain biking trail for the less experienced biker. If you are new to mountain biking, you might consider booking a guided biking tour with Bikescape. In addition, you can rent equipment at the Wilson Mountain Sports Store in the Village.
  • Shop at the Samson Mall for souvenirs. The mall includes a sporting store, a gift shop, a souvenir shop, an art gallery, a bookstore, a candy shop and a liquor store. There are also a bakery, a coffee shop and a grocery store.
Lake Louise

Where to stay in Lake Louise Village?

The Mountaineer Lodge in downtown Lake Louise is a bed and breakfast offering rooms or suites with a fireplace.

Lake Louise Inn offers rooms or suites with a kitchenette and fireplace options.

For tourists travelling with their home, Lake Louise Campground is a beautiful campground by Bow River. An electric fence surrounds the tent section to protect campers from wildlife. The RV section can accommodate up to 180 units with service. It is best to reserve your campsite ahead of time. Some sites come with a fireplace, and others are in a no-campfire zone.

Electric fence around Lake Louise Campground in the Canadian Rockies

Where to eat in Lake Louise?

Lake Louise Inn’s Legends is a great option to eat out. The food is tasty.

Laggan’s Bakery and Delicatessen was a personal favourite of mine, with great coffee and amazing baked goods. Perfect for a quick lunch or snack. It is located in the Samson Mall in the Village.

Bill Peyto’s Cafe was closed when we were there, but it came highly recommended, so I thought I would include it here. 

Other options:

  • Lake Louise Village Bar and Grill
  • Mountain Restaurant
  • Javalanche Cafe
  • Trailhead Cafe

There is a grocery store in the Village to replenish food supplies. The Village Market is pricy but convenient.


Don’t Miss

Lake Moraine Rock Pile for the perfect picture. This short trail from the Moraine Lake parking lot brings visitors to a pile of boulders from where the view of the lake with the 10 Peaks behind it is spectacular. The better capture the true blue of the lake, hike at dawn or early morning. 

Moraine Lake

Fairview Lookout trail from the Lake Louise day-use area. The short easy path brings hikers to a lookout over the lake with the Chateau behind it. It is stunning on a sunny day.

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 5: Yoho National Park

We hopped over the border again to British Columbia to explore Yoho National Park. Yoho is full of hiking adventures and stunning landscapes. 


Where is Yoho National Park?

Yoho National Park is near Field, British Columbia. It is less than half an hour (28 kilometres) from the Village of Lake Louise on the Trans-Canada Highway. 

Field, BC, is a small community where you can stop for gas or snacks at the Yoho Trading Post. The Yoho National Park’s Visitor Centre is just across the street.


Hiking in Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls Trail

  • Distance: 1.3 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: minimal
  • Rated easy
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Trailhead: from the Takakkaw Falls day-use parking area. 

This trail is primarily a leisurely walk on a paved path. It crosses a bridge with the high falls in full view. You will find a pair of Parks Canada red chairs on this trail. The hike brings you up close to the falls to experience the thundering noise and the mist from the falling water from 254 metres high. 

Standing over the bridge with Takakkaw Falls in the distance in Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake Loop

  • Distance: 5 km loop
  • Elevation gain: minimal
  • Rated easy
  • Estimated time: 2 hours
  • Trailhead: from the Emerald Lake day-use area parking lot. 

This trail makes a loop around Emerald Lake, hugging the shoreline for half the way. You will come across benches, perfect for enjoying the views. The second part of the trail wanders in a lush forest and comes to a beautiful meadow before returning to the lake near the Emerald Lodge. This is a busy spot in the park, and parking is limited. Make sure to arrive early or use patience while waiting for a parking space.

For an added challenge, you can add the Emerald Basin Trail to this hike. You will come to the Emerald Basin Trail intersection at the lake’s far end. This will add an extra 6 kilometres to the hike, making it an 11-kilometre hike with an elevation gain of 380 metres. Once you reach the end of Emerald Basin Trail, you return to the Emerald Loop by the same path and continue on the shoreline to finish the loop. 

Paget Lookout

  • Distance: 7 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 520 m
  • Rated moderate
  • Estimated time: 3 hours
  • Trailhead: from the parking lot across Wapta Lake on Highway 1 just west of the Great Divide Lodge

This moderate hike has decent elevation gain and astounding views. The hike starts in the forest and gains altitude rapidly. Once above the tree line, you come to an old fire lookout from the 1970s. The building is now a day shelter, and the view of the valley is stunning. 

Bench made of snowboards with the Emerrald Lake painted on them at the Paget Lookout in Yoho National Park
Paget Lookout

For an extra challenge, the trail continues and quickly becomes a scramble to the summit of Paget Peak. The scramble can be tedious, but the reward at the top is worthwhile. You can walk around the plateau and admire the surrounding mountains with a 360-degree view. Sherbrooke Lake and Wapta Lake are also visible below. 

walking on the summit of Paget Peak in Yoho National Park

Attractions

Natural Bridge is a rock wall that the raging water carved its way under to turn into a bridge. You can get up close to the bridge and hike on either side of the river. 

Spiral Train Tunnels are a popular attraction. The interpretive signs tell the story of the previous dangerous train tracks and the construction of the spiral tunnels, a feat in itself. If you stand long enough on the lookout, you might see the train entering and exiting the tunnel. 

Meeting of the Waters is a cool attraction where the blue glacial water and the whitewater of two rivers meet. The Kicking Horse River and the Yoho River converge in a beautiful mix of colours. 

Lake O’Hara is a stunning alpine lake in Yoho National Park. It is in a remote area that can only be accessed by a park shuttle. If you wish to spend time at the lake, you must make reservations well in advance, as the seating on the shuttle is limited and very popular. You can make your reservations on the Parks Canada Website. You can also stay overnight at the Lake O’Hara Campground, the Elizabeth Parker Hut or the Lake O’Hara Lodge. Reservations to one of these accommodations are required but will include the shuttle.

The Natural Bridge made of rock formations with raging water under it in the Canadian Rockies

Don’t Miss

Wapta Falls are a must-see when exploring Yoho National Park. An easy 2-kilometre hike on a wide and well-maintained trail will bring you to the falls. Once you come to the falls, the trail continues along the river down to the lower falls. This is the best vantage point to admire the full beauty of Wapta Falls.

Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake is the gem of the park. It is a sublime turquoise lake fed by glaciers and surrounded by mountains. Make time during your stay to visit this stunning lake.

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 6: Glacier National Park

After exploring Yoho, we made our way west, driving for about an hour to Glacier National Park for more hiking adventures through the rainforests and glaciers of this fantastic park.


Where is Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park is in eastern British Columbia, less than an hour’s drive (60 kilometres) from Golden, BC, on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is 250 kilometres east of Kamloops, BC. 


Hiking in Glacier National Park

Meeting of the Waters

  • Distance: 3.5 km loop
  • Elevation gain: minimal
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Rated easy
  • Trailhead: from the Illecillewaet Campground 

The easy trail wanders in the forest to a bridge where the waters meet. It is a leisurely walk through hemlock and spruce.

The two rivers meeting on a hike in Glacier National Park in the Canadian Rockies

Great Glacier Trail

  • Distance: 8.5 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 320 m
  • Estimated time: 3 hours
  • Rated moderate
  • Trailhead:  from the Illecillewaet Campground 

This trail was once a hike up to the glacier’s toe, but it has since receded over 1500 metres from the trail’s end. Nevertheless, the views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers make this trail a top hike in the park. 

Glacier Crest Trail

  • Distance: 13.5 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 960 m
  • Estimated time: 6 hours
  • Rated difficult
  • Trailhead:  from the Illecillewaet Campground 

This hike starts in a lush forest with giant pines. Then, through a few switchbacks, hikers will find themselves above tree line on the ridge between two valleys carved by glaciers with a lookout on the Illecillewaet Glacier. 

the Illecillewaet Glacier on the Glacier Crest Trail in Glacier National Park

Hermit Trail

  • Distance: 6 km out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 820 m
  • Estimated time: 4 hours
  • Rated difficult
  • Trailhead: 1.5 kilometres east of Rogers Pass Discovery Centre

This short but challenging hike through steep switchbacks combines rock stairs and rope-assisted scramble to bring hikers to an alpine meadow with stunning views. 


Attractions

Explore the Rogers Pass National Historic Site by walking along the 1885 Trail or completing the Loop Brook. They are both easy and flat trails. 

If you plan to make the 1885 Trail entirely out and back, the distance totals 9 kilometres. It connects the Illecillewaet and Loop Brook campgrounds. The Loop Brook is under 2 kilometres, but sturdy shoes are recommended.

The historic site includes the ruins of Glacier House and the ruins of the stone pillars of the old railway tracks. It is said that they are among the oldest-built structures in western Canada. 

Ruins of Glacier House in Glacier National Park in the Canadian Rockies

Visit the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre for its informative exhibit on avalanches and wildlife and learn much about the area’s history.

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 7: Golden

On our way back from Glacier National Park, we stopped in Golden for some exploring and sightseeing. 


Where is Golden, BC?

Golden is a small city in southeast British Columbia. It sits by the Kicking Horse River on the Trans-Canada Highway. Golden is a four-hour drive (360 km) west of Kamloops or three hours (260 km) east of Calgary. 


Top Things to do in Golden

The Golden Skybridge is the highest suspension bridge in Canada. The challenge of this hike does not come from the trail’s difficulty. It is a wide, well-maintained path. It comes from surmounting your fear of heights as you walk on the two suspension bridges across the Columbia Valley. 

Golden Skybridge above the Columbia Valley in Golden, BC in the Canadian Rockies

Mountain biking is a popular sport in this region. The Kicking Horse Resort is a ski resort in winter but turns into a mountain biking heaven in the winter. So, if this is your sport, the Kicking Horse Resort is your spot. 


Don’t Miss

Visit the Northern Lights Wolf Center, where rescued wolves live safely until they can be released into the wild. Some wolves make this refuge their forever home because of exceptional circumstances. The owners are dedicated to their wildlife refuge, and their love for the animals is evident. The interpretive guides are knowledgeable and engaging. 

Visit Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge. The refuge is set in the mountain among the trails in the Kicking Horse Resort. The interpretive tours will teach you all about Boo, the grizzly, his rescue and his life at the refuge. If you are lucky, he will come and say hi.

Boo the big brown Grizzly bear at the Kicking Horse Bear Refuge in Golden BC
Female white Wolf coming back to the refuge from her nature walk  at the Northern Lights Wolf Center in Golden BC

The Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is a must to make this road trip complete. We decided to explore each section of the parkway over a few days while staying at campgrounds along the way.

Most campgrounds on the parkway are on a first-come, first-served basis. Those that are reservable will also welcome walk-ins (or rather drive-ins). There are usually plenty of sites, and after two summers spent along the Icefields Parkway, I have always found a site to spend the night, even during high season.

Campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway (in Banff National Park)

  • Mosquito Creek Campground (27 km from Lake Louise)
  • Silverhorn Creek Campground (55 km from Lake Louise)
  • Waterfowl Lakes Campground (62 km from Lake Louise)
  • Rampart Creek Campground (94 km from Lake Louise)

Campgrounds on the Icefields Parkway (in Jasper National Park)

  • Wilcox Creek Campground (107 km from Jasper)
  • Icefields Tent (105 km from Jasper)
  • Icefields RV (103 km from Jasper)
  • Jonas Creek Campground (77 km from Jasper)
  • Honeymoon Lake Campground (52 km from Jasper)
  • Kerkeslin Campground (35 km from Jasper)
  • Wabasso Campground (17 km from Jasper)
  • Wapiti Campground (6 km from Jasper)
  • Whistlers Campground (4 km from Jasper)

It is possible to drive the Icefields Parkway in one day and choose which stops and attractions you want to prioritize. To help you decide on which stops you might most enjoy, this list of the most compelling attractions on the parkway will help.

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Stop 8: Jasper

Our last stop in the Canadian Rockies is the charming town of Jasper, Alberta. This tourist town, too, surrounded by mountains, offers many outdoor adventures.


Where is Jasper?

Jasper is a Canadian Rockies town in northern Alberta. It is a nearly 5-hour drive (400 km) north of Calgary or 4 hours (360 km) west of Edmonton. 

A bit of History

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a luxurious hotel on the shore of Lac Beauvert in Jasper. Celebrities like James Stewart, John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe stayed at the lodge occasionally. In addition, numerous films and tv shows were set on the grounds while the actors stayed at the lodge.

The Jasper Park Lodge across Lac Beauvert with the mountain range behind it in the Canadian Rockies

Hiking in Jasper National Park

There are numerous hiking trails around Jasper. If you are visiting with children or prefer easy hiking trails, the list of hiking options is endless. There are a few options listed in this list of family-friendly hikes. My favourites are Valley of the Five Lakes and Pyramid Island Loop.

Pyramid Mountain behind Pyramid Lake with a log across the shore
Looking out to Pyramid Mountain from Pyramid Island
blue clear lake of the Valley of Five Lakes in Jasper
Valley of the 5 Lakes

For moderate hikes, Jasper does not disappoint. Among hikers’ favourites are Opal Hills Trail and Bald Hills Trail, both in the Lake Maligne area. The Sulphur Skyline Trail is also a must for avid hikers in the region. This one is in the Miette Hot Spring area. 

For peak baggers, I highly recommend Pyramid Mountain and Roche Miette. They are stunning mountains that offer unique challenges, and the views from their summits are unprecedented. 

walking around the summit of Pyramid Mountain in Jasper Alberta
Pyramid Mountain’s summit

Another favourite is the Indian Ridge which starts at the top of the Jasper Skytram. Here too, the views are stunning.

view of the Athabasca River from Roche Miette
View on Roche Miette scramble
Indian Ridge hike in Canadian Rockies
Indian Ridge, as seen from Whistlers’ summit.

What to do in Jasper (besides hiking)

The Jasper Skytram will bring you to the top of Whistlers Mountain, where you can hike the last few hundred metres to the summit. If you don’t feel like hiking to the summit, the views from the boardwalk outside the Skytram’s terminal are breathtaking and well worth the trip. 

View of the Jasper Skytram terminal from the trail on the Whistlers

Jasper Planetarium and Dark Sky Telescope Tours at the Jasper Lodge will amaze every stargazer. 

Spend some relaxing time at the Miette Hot Springs.

Mountain Biking on the many bike trails around Jasper. The Bench Bike Shop can outfit you with what you need for a mountain trail or a stroll around town. Need a tour guide? Try Journey Bike Guides.

Rock climbing and mountaineering with a guide.

Kayaking or canoeing on Maligne Lake. You can rent kayaks and boats on-site. 

Maligne Lake

Book a whitewater rafting tour on the Athabasca River or the Sunwapta River. There are family rafting tours and easy raft trips available.

For the foodie in you, take a food tour in downtown Jasper.

Visit the Jasper Mountain Galleries in the Jasper Park Lodge or the Jasper Yellowhead Museum on Bonhomme Street in Jasper.

Need more ideas? Spa, horseback riding, fishing, golfing, shopping

Sundog Tours

Take the Jasper Train Tour to McBride, BC, with a stop in Mount Robson Park. This is a full-day tour where you ride by bus to McBride with the chauffeur as a guide to point out all the highlights along the route. There are two stops in Mount Robson Park in British Columbia. Then, in McBride, take the train back to Jasper.

Mount Robson in the clouds
Mount Robson with the summit hidden in the clouds

Where to Eat in Jasper?

Earls Jasper was perfect for a night out to eat. We had a balcony table on the second floor; the view was amazing, and so was the food!

Jasper Pizza is an excellent option for dinner, eat-in or delivery. They are open for lunch from Friday to Sunday but at 4 pm the rest of the week.


Camping in Jasper

There are a few options for camping near Jasper. All of them are good, but the services they offer are different.

  • My favourite was Snaring Campground, a bit out of town off the Yellowhead Highway just past the Palisades Centre. It does not have any service and is on a first-come, first-served basis campground. I loved it because the campsites are under the canopy of trees, making it a bit more private. 
  • Whistlers and Wapiti are also good options. They both have electrical sites and showers and toilets. The Whistlers Campground also has oTENTik huts. You can make reservations ahead of time for both of these campgrounds on the Parks Canada Website. I stayed at the Wapiti Campground and loved having the elks graze around the campground, but the sites are in a field with no privacy. Same with the Whistlers.
wapiti walking and grazing in the Wapiti Campground in Jasper National Park
elk herd in the Wapiti Campground

Don’t Miss

Maligne Lake Boat Tour to Spirit Island is an iconic Canadian adventure. This small island, only reachable by boat, is a picture-perfect scene with the majestic blue lake and the mountains in the backdrop.

boat from the Maligne Tours docked on Maligne Lake
Spirit Island in Maligne Lake

Make time to visit the Mount Edith Cavell area. The easy path leads visitors under the glacier, with the powder blue lake at its toe. The majestic Mount Edith Cavell standing high above the meadow is an impressive sight.

Mount Edith Cavell with its glacier and powder blue lake at its base

Last Words on the Ultimate Road Trip in the Canadian Rockies

This is the end of our road trip across the Canadian Rockies, which has taken us through two provinces and five national parks. This itinerary in the Canadian Rockies, including Banff and Jasper, has some of the best adventures this astounding landscape offers. The adventures in this part of the country are limitless, and we will be back for more soon.

There are endless adventurous road trips in Canada. Click here for more Canadian road trip options.

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