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“One of the great drives” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
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Glacier Skywalk Admission
Certificate of Excellence
Activities: Driving, Biking
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Owner description: Scenic highway cutting through breathtakingly beautiful mountain passes.
Level Contributor
106 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“One of the great drives”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013 via mobile

The stretch is a busy one, particularly in the summer months, but it's definitely worth it. Just make sure you give lots of time for travel: in the summer there's lots of cars, in the winter there's lots of snow.

For those with the patience, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of mountains, ice fields and of course plenty of animals. It takes a little time, but definitely stop by the Athabasca Glacier and walk around. Avoid the Brewster trucks, low value and long lines, in my opinion.

I've only done it a few times, buy I find the winter drive most interesting. That being said, keep in mind that while Parks Canada maintains the road, it's definitely a secondary route with limited services. Pack some provisions, just in case.


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Saint Louis, Missouri
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3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Icefields parkway”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2013

Driving along Canada hwy 1 towards the icefield parkway you come across waterfalls coming down the mountains which are worth a stop and have a look and take a few pics. The roads are very good considering how close you are to the mountains. You have to be on alert for the parkway because their aren't many signs to prepare you for the turn off from hwy and expect a line of cars to enter the parkway. It is a very beautiful drive with plenty of stops along the way to look at the wildlife(watch for bears and pumas!) and glaciers. Drive along the river to the falls the water is a milky off white color and very cold(not for swimming). From beginning to end it was very enjoyable even though it rained.

Visited May 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
109 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
“Requires patience.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2013

The drive is unbelievably beautiful in parts. We were surprised at the amount of wildlife around (bear, dear), and the views. We did a fairly fast trip from Banff to Jasper over about 5 hours with short stops along the way. It was pretty tiring, it is a fairly busy road, and there is a lot going on with traffic, and groups of families getting out of their cars on the side of the road to look at the bears in the bushes nearby. Seriously. We didn't see anyone get eaten, so it must be all good.

There are two main issues you face. Firstly, the convoys of campervans tooling along nose to tail at a constant 25mph who overtake you every time you stop, and then you get stuck behind them again for 20 minutes unable to pass as it never seems to occur to them to actually look in their mirrors and see the line of 300 cars strung out behind them. They are like the pace car at an Indy Car Race, but you never seem to get the green light.
That makes you not want to stop, as you see them in your rear vision mirror approaching from behind at their glacial speed. Overtaking lanes will usually see two of them side by side fighting it out for supremacy, and everyone else still sitting there behind them in despair. If you do ever get past, you will immediately see something worth pulling over for, and you are back at the back of the line. After about three hours of this you are frazzled, and just keep going. You could see Aliens meeting Elvis and handing out free money by the time you get to the half way mark, and it still wouldn't be worth stopping to see.
A complicating factor is the locals who use the road as a shortcut between nowhere and somewhere else, who seem to be totally oblivious to things like speed limits, other drivers, blind corners, double white lines, waiting their turn, turn signals, waiting for oncoming traffic, etc. They just blast through everyone at high speed without a care in the world, so it pays to check your mirrors before overtaking. Generally speaking, they consider anyone doing 20 over the limit to be holding them up unnecessarily, and will give you a brief finger as they disappear over the horizon at about the same speed as the Millennium Falcon.

Secondly, the Park Service isn't too keen on clearing vegetation back from the viewpoints. You can pull up to a marked viewpoint, but all you can see is a 30 foot high wall of weeds that has grown up over the past 20 years and never been cleared back. You are then left trying to stop on the roadside to get glimpses through breaks and down gullies. Some areas are good, but there is often no point stopping, as you can't see anything but groups of confused people looking around trying to figure out what they are supposed to be looking at. Some places that would seem to be crying out for a place to pull over get nothing, and other places that are just a little bit nice have pull offs where you could host a World Cup soccer final. It just seems to be poorly organised, Eh?

To see everything you need to drive one way one day, then turn around and drive back the other way the next day. Unfortunately, that will probably require you to stay in Jasper. Sorry. I recommend doing it with a Zen-like level of patience and love of campervan drivers, or as a passenger loaded with Valium and a commitment to say 'NO' to road rage.

Visited June 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Discover the beauty of Alberta from your vehicle....”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

We take this one home every time we are in Banff. Great drive to discover something new every time we drive it. Best scenic s you will find with such easy access.

Visited February 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kingston, Canada
Level Contributor
28 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Great place to visit”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

Great drive, any time of year. A little sketchier in the winter, but worth the hassle for some amazing views!

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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