Banff to Jasper, Alberta
Three hours 30 minutes
I love both Banff and Jasper National Parks. The views are incredible, the air smells so clean, and if you love nature, both places have so much to offer. My favourite drive is from the town of Banff in Banff National Park to the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park, in Alberta. I love driving these roads because the views of the Rocky Mountains and glaciers are incredible. Many times, you share the road with wildlife such as bears, elk and mountain goats. And in the national parks you feel like you are the only one experiencing these mountains because there aren’t a lot of other vehicles around.
There are plenty of fantastic stops along the way. Just outside of Banff is the Juniper Hotel and Bistro, where you can enjoy the most amazing view from the patio. At Lake Louise, take a ride on the Summer Gondola—I’ve seen bears and lynx below me from up there. Further along, make time to stop at the Columbia Icefield Adventure, where you can walk on the Athabasca Glacier or visit the glass-floored Skywalk at the cliff’s edge. At Jasper, stop for dinner at the iconic The Grizzly House to sample its signature fondue. Each table also has a telephone, so you can call other customers’ tables. If you arrive at night, keep an eye out for the stars and Northern Lights. Jasper has been designated as a Dark-Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada because of its limited light pollution.
If you’re planning to take this drive, my advice is to book your hotels early because Banff and Jasper National Parks are very popular. And if you’re hiking, you need to be “bear aware.” Do some research and keep bear spray with you to be safe.
If I were to drive this route in a Mazda, I would choose the CX‑9. I could fit my puppy Sadie in the vehicle with my husband and me, along with all our camping gear!
THE 290 KM ROUTE
Take the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) west from the town of Banff in Banff National Park. Head northeast through Lake Louise, where you must stop and take in the magnificent view. Just past Lake Louise, take a right onto Highway 93, also known as the Icefields Parkway, and continue through the spectacular mountain scenery to the town of Jasper, in Jasper National Park. Google map
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