Icefields Parkway Drive is one of the most scenic drives in the world. The route connects many of the stunning destinations in the Canadian Rockies, making it a bucket list road trip from Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff National Park.
We have driven this route from Banff and Lake Louise to Jasper, and vice versa. In this post, we will share the available transportation options, starting from Jasper via the Icefields Parkway route to Lake Louise.
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Jasper to Lake Louise Icefields Parkway Drive
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Driving from Jasper to Lake Louise: Distance, seasonal conditions, road trip planning and park fees
Distance from Jasper National Park to Lake Louise
The distance from Jasper to Lake Louise is about 231 kilometres and it roughly takes about 3 hours to reach, if you drive non-stop. The entire route is done via Highway AB-93S.
During winters, many attractions along the way may be closed due to slippery road conditions, snowfall, and avalanches. The Icefields Parkway Drive or the highway route is open all year round. However, as with all winter driving in Canada, you have to be prepared and exercise caution.
From Jasper National Park, there are quite a few things that you can stop by and explore. If you start early, you can visit the natural attractions, go on short hikes, reach Lake Louise by afternoon, and thereafter head to Banff (evening). It is doable in 8 to 10 hours while stopping along the way.
The route is very stunning, as you drive through. Icefields Parkway is a fully paved road with wide shoulders. There are only a few switchbacks, but for the most part, is fairly easy and scenic to drive. Larger vehicles like RV have no issues navigating the drive, the same goes for buses.
We will detail all the sightseeing stops on the Icefields Parkway Drive from Jasper to Lake Louise, and an option to head to Banff town.
Map of Jasper to Lake Louise via Icefields Parkway + Stops
Fees: Jasper and Banff National Park
Lake Louise is located inside the Banff National Park. Both Banff and Jasper national parks have entry fees and they are the same for both. If you are paying for a daily pass, the ticket you pay for in Jasper will be valid in Lake Louise and Banff town.
The daily or 24-hour pass means that you pay $10 CAD per adult for one day inside the National Park. Here are the entrance fees, as found on the Canada Parks website,
- Adult – Person 18 to 64 years of age – $10 CAD per day or 24 hours*
- Family/Car – $20 CAD – per day or 24 hours
- Senior – $8.30
- Youth (up to 17 years) – Free
- Commercial group (per person) – $8.30
If you are a frequent visitor to National Parks in Canada, we recommend opting for the Discovery Pass. It is definitely a money saver. The Discovery Pass is valid for one full year from the date of purchase and it allows you to access over 80 historical, and nature parks in Canada for a set price of $69+ CAD (for adults).
Jasper to Lake Louise by Car: Icefields Parkway Driving Tips
COSTS: Gas: $20- 35 CAD one way + Car Rental starts at $23 CAD per day
Our favorite way to travel to Lake Louise from Jasper National Park is by car. We like starting early in the morning like around 7:00 am in the summertime, and after 08:00 am in the winters. Wintertime calls for driving delays and poor visibility, so ensure you factor that in during your road trip.
With a vehicle, you can make stops along the way, and enjoy various falls and lakes.
If you are already in Jasper, we are assuming you picked up a rental car in Edmonton or even Jasper itself. You can easily rent a car from the Edmonton International Airport (options for Avis, Enterprise, Budget, etc.) to Jasper. You can book it online, ahead of time via Expedia and Rentalcars/Booking – two of our favorite travel services sites.
Ensure you fill up gas in Jasper National Park. There is only one fuel station on the Icefields Parkway at the Saskatchewan River Crossing, and prices here are very expensive.
If you have never driven in Canadian winters, we recommend avoiding this route. Most of the winter photos you see in this post are from late November. Salil has been driving for a decade in the winters here, I still sit at the edge of my seat during switchbacks, and mountain driving – so yea a little practice is needed.
You will also not find a ton of restaurants or crowds along the way, so drive slow, get car insurance, and have emergency numbers handy. Drivers along the way are very helpful, in case your car breaks down or you are stuck, but the route is not super crowded in the winters, therefore being cautious is key.
We also recommend carrying a blanket and some snacks with you, as you enjoy those stunning mountain views!
Directions: From Jasper, you can embark on the AB-93 S (Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1/AB-93) highway and follow signs for Lake Louise. If this is your first time in Alberta or Western Canada, we recommend using GPS or Google Maps to make your drive easy.
Jasper to Lake Louise Bus
COSTS: Starts at $54 CAD, takes 3.50+ hours one way
Is there a bus from Jasper to Lake Lousie?
Yes, there are buses to take you from Jasper National Park to Lake Louise. These bus trips are usually like this, Jasper > Lake Louise > Banff and vice versa.
This is probably the best option if you don’t like to drive or are uncomfortable with winter driving. Sundog Connector offers reliable transportation between Jasper and Banff, with stops in Lake Louise. You can choose your pick up and drop off location when booking tickets online.
Sundog Tours operates a scheduled bus service from downtown Jasper to Lake Louise. The journey takes about 3.50 hours.
You can also book bus tickets via Busbud. We use Busbud mostly on our European trips.
Jasper to Lake Louise by Private Transfer
SunDog Tours offers private transfers, and you can also book a sightseeing tour, or additional stops to make the most of your trip. This is a better option than booking a taxi.
Icefields Parkway Drive by RV and Campervan
COSTS: $75 and $150 CAD per night to rent campervans or small trailers. Renting an RV is great for long trips as the costs can average to less than $75 CAD per day.
It is very common to see campervans in Jasper and Banff National Park, road tripping through the Canadian Rockies. There are many RV and campervan rental companies that you can use to book, and the Icefields Parkway route can be easily accessed and driven with an RV.
Here are RV and Campervan rental options from Jasper
Jasper to Lake Louise by Train
COSTS: Starts at $110 CAD per adult
Is there a train from Jasper to Lake Louise?
There is a direct train service from Jasper to Lake Louise via – VIA Rail. You can book them via Sundog Tours – online or in person at their downtown office. On average, you can expect to spend around $110+ CAD for your train ticket.
The trip takes 3.50 hours, and the route is as follows
Jasper > Lake Louise > Banff > Calgary Connector towards Lake Louise South Bound (Calgary Airport)
Jasper Lake Louise by Guided Tour
COSTS: Starts at $200+ CAD per person (includes return trip, sightseeing)
Sundog Tours offers both transportation/shuttle buses and stand-alone sightseeing tours, so you can book both. Accommodation is additional.
What is there to see between Lake Louise and Jasper via Icefields Parkway Drive
Although the Icefields Parkway drive takes over 3 hours to complete – one way, the entire route is super scenic, so you must stop at some of the jaw dropping locations like the Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Columbia Icefields to name a few.
In Jasper National Park, don’t forget to explore Pyramid Lake and Island, Patricia Lake, Maligne Lake, and Maligne Canyon, Valley of five lakes, etc. In the winter a trip to the Marmot Ski Resort is a must. You can read our guide for inspiration – things to do in Jasper in the winter
Here are the Icefields Parkway Stops from Jasper to Lake Louise:
- Athabasca Falls
- Sunwapta Falls
- Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefields
- Peyto Lake
- Lake Louise
- Bow Lake (optional)
- Abraham Lake (optional)
- Moraine Lake
- Johnston Canyon
Athabasca Falls (from Jasper is 30 minutes)
Located about 30 minutes drive away from Jasper town are the stunning Athabasca Falls. The falls viewing platform can be accessed by those with limited mobility as well. If visiting in the winter or early spring months, ensure you are wearing cleats as the steps and pathway leading to the falls can get very slippery.
Sunwapta Falls (from Jasper is 40 minutes)
Another 15-20 minutes from Athabascsa are the Sunwapta Falls. These waterfalls look beautiful at any time of year. During summers you can hike the 1.30 km (.8 mile) trail, and enjoy the scenery.
During winters, the falls look even more beautiful with the soft white snow in and around the craters and the fall itself. There is a lodge and a restaurant near the Sunwapta Falls, and it has limited operating hours in the winter season.
Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefields (1 hour 15 minutes from Jasper)
You will probably want to spend most of the time here. Columbia Icefields are home to the largest non-polar ice fields in the world. In the summer – from May to October, you can also join the Columbia Icefield Adventure tour and experience the Athabasca Glacier.
This adventure tour is weather dependent, and includes an Ice Explorer Tour on the Athabasca Glacier, plus admission to the Skywalk, and return transportation from the Glacier Discovery Centre.
Without the tour, you can still visit the Glacier Discovery Centre, and admire the views from a distance. To visit the glacier up close and personal, you have to take these tours (and hop on the Ice Explorer vehicle to take you there).
Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection conducts these tours.
Peyto Lake (1 hour from Icefields Columbia)
Peyto Lake is a gorgeous glacial fed lake located along the Icefields Parkway. Depending on how much time you have on hand you can also skip this and head straight to Lake Louise.
If you do decide to spend some time at the lake, you can enjoy an easy 3.8 mile round trip hike. This spot welcomes you to one of the best views in the Canadian Rockies. There is also an accessible viewing area for sightseeing.
Lake Louise (30 minutes from Peyto Lake)
Finally, you are here at the turquoise-sy beautiful Lake Louise. If you arrive here in the late afternoon, and it is summertime, you can enjoy the evening, sip some wine or coffee at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Spending a full day here is nice for hiking, and canoeing in the summer. If visiting in the winters, you can go skiing at the Lake Louise Ski resort, and ice skating at the frozen lake. In the late winter months, there are ice festivals that you can enjoy too. You can read our full guide on visiting Lake Louise in winters.
Further connecting to Banff National Park and Canadian Rocky Mountains
From Lake Louise, Banff town is just 50 minutes away. There are tons of things to do in and around Banff from visiting more lakes (Two Jack Lake, Minnewanka Lake, Moraine Lake, Vermillion Lake), hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, gardens, and other cute Alberta towns along the way. Get our 3 days in Banff itinerary
If you are starting early for Banff from Lake Louise, we recommend adding Abraham Lake to the itinerary. Abraham Lake is an artificial lake, and from December to early February you can check out ice bubbles at their reservoir.
You can also head further north from Lake Louise to Bow Lake (30 minute drive), off the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93). Bow Lake is a little known lake, located at an elevation of 1920 metres.
Yoho National Park in British Columbia is an easy day trip from Lake Louise. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes from the hamlet of Lake Louise.
Another add-on is the Johnston Canyon. The canyons are accessible all year round, and in the winter you can go on a guided ice walk too.
Is Lake Louise close to Banff or Jasper?
Lake Louise is closer to Banff. It is a 50 minute drive from Banff. The lake is located within the park boundaries. It is possible to do a day trip from Banff quite easily.
On the other hand, from Jasper National Park, it takes about 3.50+ hours to reach Lake Louise (nonstop drive).
Road Trip from Banff to Lake Louise to Jasper National Park
So many of our readers start in Banff and then make their way to Jasper National Park, we will definitely share a full guide for that route. But here is an quick guide
From Banff, head to Lake Louise – 50 minutes drive. Along the way you can stop at the following attractions
- Vermillion Lake
- Two Jack Lake
- Minnewanka Lake
- Moraine Lake
- Lake Louise – stay here for the night
- Explore Lake Louise
- Start for Icefields Parkway drive to Jasper from Lake Louise
- Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefields
- Sunwapta Falls
- Athabasca Falls
- Reach Jasper town, stay for the night (or two)
We have done the trip in both ways, and the Icefields Parkway are stunning! They are beautiful at all times of the year.
When Is The Best Time To Go on the Icefields Parkway Drive?
The highway route or the road is open all year round and is very much accessible. But many prefer to travel from May to October. This is because most of the natural attractions along with the Icefield Explorer – Columbia Icefields tour are operational during these months. That makes May, June and the tail end of August and September the best time to visit and drive the Icefields Parkway.
The peak time to visit Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper is from June to September, as these months offer the best good weather, with road conditions, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Being summer months, July and August can be super crowded with tourists. But June, late August, and September will be much nicer and also cooler in temperature.
As we mentioned, winters can be challenging for driving. Also, winter comes in early and stays late in Lake Louise and Jasper. Snowfall often leads to poor winter driving conditions, road closures, and poor visibility. Attractions along the way may be closed.
So, that’s a wrap! We hope you found this post useful in planning your trip to the Icefields Parkway. This route is so gorgeous – you can check off ancient glaciers, beautiful turquoise lakes, stunning hiking trails and mountains, as they all call out to you!
Read: More Canada Road Trip Itineraries here