2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies: Icefields Parkway & Jasper

Two weeks in the Canadian Rockies has been split into a number of posts as there is just so much to say. However there is also a post of 2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies in a Nutshell if you want to read the summary.

Tips:

– We suggest that where you can reserve campsites online on https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/ParksCanada for what you can. Don’t worry if cannot book everywhere as there are walk in campsites available too as detailed in the post below.

– How the walk up campsites work is you turn up and find an empty plot. Plots are reserved with a slip of paper which you pick up from the hut at the entrance, which states your arrival date and how many nights you will be staying. Picky your plot and then put your money in an envelope, which is also provided at the camp entrance and you post into a letter box. We suggest you arrive at about 11 as people have to vacate at 11.

– You will need to buy a parks pass to visit the rockies. You can buy this pass on entrance Banff national park, if coming from Calgary then he place to buy is a couple of km after Canmore. Don’t worry you won’t miss it and will more than likely queue with everyone else! If you are staying more than 6 Days it is cheaper to buy a year long pass.

– Pick up maps from the tourist information, these are so so helpful and you will take it on all your hikes/use them to plan your hikes. The great thing about this trip is that all the walk are signposted and will also tell you how many kms so you will NEVER get lost!

– We flew into Calgary, hired a camper and headed from Calgary to Jasper and back and it took 2 weeks. We hired our Camper through Wicked Campers and couldn’t recommend them enough. They are cheap, cheerful and suited us perfectly for what we want.

Icefields Parkway

We spent 2 nights on the Icefields Parkway, but to be honest you only really need one night. We had a fantastic time none the less, but if we were to do the trip again wouldn’t allocate 2 night stays.

There are lots of walking places and if you are a serious hiker then some epic hikes for you to to do too.

Day 1 on the Icefields:

We camped the first night at Mosquito Creek. We left Lake Louise and headed to the campsite to get a spot as its first come first serve. We loved this campsite, it was right by this cute stream and was very picturesque.

We the headed to Peyto Lake for the rest of the morning. The hike up to the view point isn’t very difficult and you get amazing views of the fox shaped blue lake. As we like walking we hiked up to the top of this other viewpoint, we just followed signs and got a view from higher up.

We then headed to Bow Lake. We had lunch by the lake and then took a paddle in the water – it was freezing! Whilst we were eating lunch lots of people walked past us either heading out on a walk or coming back. We decided to follow and basically randomly ended up at the most spectacular water fall, called Bow Falls (surprisingly!). The walk was interesting as there was lots of water and sometimes the path didn’t exist. We ended up hanging off branches for parts of the walk, but this made it more fun. Because the walk wasn’t planned and the waterfalls at the end were so amazing this ended up being one of my favourite walks. The great thing about this was that the walk was so varied, from forest, to water to walking through very open land (in the winter it was probably covered in water), then climbing up rocks to get as close to the waterfall as possible.

Day 2 on the Icefields:

We left mosquito creek and headed to the Columbia Icefields which was halfway between where we wanted to camp the second night.
The Columbia Icefields has a modern tourist centre, which of course means this place is crowded with toursits. There are many excusursions you can do from here, but no surprises are super expensive. We opted to have a coffee at the tourist centre and then did a mini walk to see the glacier. You can if you want go on a glacier tour but we didn’t bother.

We then headed to our next campsite which was called Honeymoon Lake. This campsite was gorgeous, right by a lake and we actually spent the whole afternoon by the lake enjoying the sunshine. The lake was freezing, but once you were in it was okay.

Whilst we were here we also visited the Sunwapta Falls which were cool. However to be honest we could’ve done all of this in one day rather than 2!

Jasper

We were meant to spend 3 nights in Jasper, but we didn’t love Jasper, and the weather wasn’t the best. We left Jasper early and are glad we did. We didn’t feel like we missed out on anything.

Whilst in Jasper we hired bikes and cycled from the town centre to Patricia and Pyramid Lake which was fun. We hired a kayak on Pyramid Lake which was great. It was the cheapest kayak/canoe rental in the whole of The Rockies at $40 for an hour. It was fun kayaking around the little island and the surrounding mountains are spectacular.

We also went to Maligne Lake, which is such a long drive away but worth it. We were so surprised how far away this lake actually is!
There are lots of walks to do here for a variety of difficulties, so make sure you pick up a map from the tourist information point in the centre of Jasper. On the same road to Malinge is Medicine Lake so stop off here for photos either on your way to or back from Malinge. When we stopped we saw a baby eagle which was cool.

Whilst in Jasper make sure you visit Bear Paw’s Bakery. This is very popular and famous for their sticky cinnamon buns. They have 2 in Jasper and we visited both of them!

Read more about visiting the Canadian Rockies: Banff & Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise & Moraine Lake