The Best Icefield Parkway Journey

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

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Perfecting your Icefield Parkway trip from Lake Louise

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – The drive to the Columbia Icefields doesn’t have to be just time spent in a car. There are plenty of sights to see and short hikes to be had en route to the famed Athabasca Glacier. Use our guide to the Icefield Parkway to see as much as possible on your trip to the glacial fields.

Peyto Lake is only a short walk from the Icefield Parkway.

Peyto Lake is only a short walk from the Icefield Parkway.

1. Pull Over at Interpretive Signs

Many of the rest stops have signs that explain geological features and the historical importance of the view. Use this as a great opportunity to stretch your legs and learn about Lake Louise and the surrounding Canadian Rockies.

A good stop to make is at the Bow Summit which offers a short walk to the peak and a great view of Peyton Lake nestled between the surrounding mountain ranges. You will meander through high elevation meadows which are blooming with wildflowers during the early summer months. Another great place to observe wildflowers is the ten minute walk into Mistaya Canyon. Also, check out the start of the Glacier Lake trail to observe the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.

2. Stop at the Crossing Resort’s Gift Shop

Not only does the gift shop offer an astounding array of postcards to send to friends and relatives, but they also have a great ice cream stand. Take a driving break and sample some of the Canadian Rockies goods in the store.

3. Be on the Look-out for Wildlife Activity

During the months of May and June, wildlife can be spotted along the highway because the snow is still melting at higher elevations. You can still spot large mammals during the summer months, try setting out either early in the morning or later around dusk for your best chances. Bring a guide book to help you identify any wildlife you may encounter.

4. Pack a Picnic

The areas around the Icefield Parkway are the wildest areas in Banff National Park, so what better way to experience the wilderness than by chowing down right in the middle of it?  There are designated picnic areas at Herbert Lake, Saskatchewan River Crossing, Bow Lake and below Mt. Coleman. Or bring a blanket and find a quiet place at a trail head or one of the campgrounds.

Special Considerations

During the winter months, make sure you have a full tank of gas, food, water and plenty of warm clothing. All services along the Icefield Parkway close for the winter season.

For more information on Canadian Rockies accommodations: Click here!

For more information on Canadian Rockies activities: Click here!

Columbia Icefields, Lake Louise Feature

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