The most underated route into the Canadian Rockies, and the grandeur of the famous Icefield's Parkway is Alberta's Highway 11, the David Thompson Highway. A glorious paved route, with barely another car in sight, will take you from the growing resort town of Nordegg to Saskatchewan River Crossing in Banff National Park through some of Alberta's finest scenery.

The route covers about 100 km along the shores of the turquoise Abraham Lake, with fantastic mountain views in all directions. Bighorn sheep can often be seen on the crags beside Windy Point. There are numerous opportunities to stop and take in the views, with interesting detours to Siffleur Falls, Crescent Falls and the impressive Canyon of the Bighorn River. Excellent hiking abounds.

 If you are travelling the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper, spending half a day exploring the mountains of David Thompson Country is well worth the detour. The National Historic Site in Nordegg, on the site of the old coal mine, dating to 1914 is a worthwhile destination, as is the excellent Shunda Creek Hostel (cheap and fun) or Aurum Lodge (expensive but charming).

 Highway 11, the David Thompson Highway is a secret gem!