9 Stunning things to see on the Icefields Parkway with Children

If you are heading to the Canadian Rockies for a Road trip, then it is almost certain you are going to be driving the Icefields Parkway. It is a stretch of road that runs from just north of Lake Louise through the Canadian Rockies, to Jasper,

Forming part of the road known as Highway 93, it is a small part of a very long road. Highway 93, would you believe runs all the way down, through Las Vegas, to Phoenix Arizona some 1,700 miles away. We however, are only going to concentrate on some jaw dropping places to stop on the Icefileds Parkway section.

The 140 or so mile stretch from Lake Louise to Jasper, consists of some of the most beautiful places on the planet. We were blown away by the visual treats on offer in just one day of driving. There are so many things to see on the Icefields Parkway. In fact it is impossible to see everything in one day, particularly if you are traveling with younger ones.

We did the drive back in 2017, and managed around 15 stops during a 12 hour travelling day. With a then 3 year old!

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children
Driving along the Icefields Parkway on our 2017 Canadian Road Trip

A bit about the Icefields Parkway

Starting from just north of Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway runs for about 230km / 143 miles heading north to Jasper. It winds its way through the Canadian Rockies, and is a drive that any fan of road trips must take. Natural wonders and scenery are around every turn, putting this drive at the top of anyones Road Trip list.

Running along the Continental Divide, the Icefields Parkway is a thing of beauty from start to finish. The story apparently starts over 50 million years ago, and has been a point of exploration for centuries. The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed just before the end off the 19th Century. Coupled with the creation of Canada’s first National Park, Banff National Park, it bought the visitors to the area in greater numbers. If you want to read about this in more detail, then head over to the Parks Canada website for more information.

According to the Canada Parks Website:

“Today, more than 1.2 million people travel the Icefields Parkway each year, mostly during the summer months. In winter, it attracts visitors for ski touring, ice climbing, snowshoeing and winter exploring. The inspiring scenery, rich history and abundant wildlife attract visitors from all over the world. Attractions, accommodations and campgrounds allow explorers of all ages and abilities to experience and venture out into the magnificent Great Divide area.

Here are 9 Things to see on the Icefields Parkway with Children

The drive we took goes from Lake Louise, to Jasper. The first two stops in the list are not technically on the Icefields, Parkway. They are included in this list as most people start the journey in Lake Louise, and finish in Jasper (or visa versa).

Trip map courtesy of Wanderlog, a trip planner app on iOS and Android

One thing to note is there are not many hotels or motels between Lake Louise and Jasper. You can certainly find somewhere to stay but we would recommend basing yourself in either Lake Louise or Jasper. They are great towns, worthy of a visit, and the perfect place to start or finish your Icefield Parkway Road Trip.

Check out these links for hotels in Lake Louise, or Jasper.

So, lets get into it. Here are our suggestions for things to see on the Icefields Parkway.

Morraine Lake

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

Location: 20 minutes South of Lake Louise

Address: 622 Moraine Lake Rd, Field, AB, Canada

Parking: Limited. Busy seasonal periods the car park will be closed or fill up very quickly, and you will be redirected to the Lake Louise Park and Ride. We arrived Just after 8am, and only just managed to get a spot to park.

The Park and Ride is a whopping 20km / 25 minute drive from the lake itself.

If you are planning on making this one of your many stops during a frenzied day then bear this in mind.

Morraine Lake itself is worthy of your time. It is a bit of trek from Lake Louise, so it may not be one stop you want to make when you drive the rest of the Icefields Parkway, but we managed to squeeze it in as our first stop. We got there just after sunrise, so it wasn’t really busy, despite the fact we only just managed to park. I can imagine once the Park & Ride busses come, there will be more crowds.


Lake Lousie

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

Location: Less than a 10 minute drive from Lake Louise village

Address: 111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada

Parking: As with Morraine Lake, limited. Busy seasonal periods the car park will be closed or fill up very quickly, and you will be redirected to the Lake Louise Park and Ride. We chose to see this the day before we drove north up the Icefields Parkway, and had to take the trek to the Park and Ride, and back again.

While we were there, they used school busses, so it was good fun for Max. As already mentioned, it isn’t a really short drive, but it was worth it.

This was, and still is, one of the most stunningly beautiful sights I have ever seen. I can still remember walking from the drop off point to lakeside. As the path opens out and you see the lake in all its glory, it really does take your breath away.

The water really is that colour. The back drop of the mountains loom over and dominate the lake. Make sure you have plenty of room on your memory card as you will just want to take photo after photo.


Herbert Lake

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

Location: 4 miles / 10 minutes from Lake Louise

Head north and experience your first taste of the Icefields Parkway. As a reminder, all of things you will read hear are things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children. This means they are easily accessible, and do not involve any hikes.

They are simply park the car, walk, drop jaw, gawk, walk back to car again. Lather rinse repeat.

Herbert Lake is no different. Pull off the Icefileds Parkway, park the car and it is a short walk through some trees to lake side. We were lucky enough to be greeted with relatively still waters and blue skies.

A very peaceful, tranquil location, and when we visited, there were hardly any people there at all. I am not sure if this is a lesser known lake, but as you can see from the photograph, well worth 15 minutes of your time.


Bow Lake

Location: 20 miles / 22 minutes from Herbert Lake (24 miles / 30 minutes from Lake Louise)

Continue the drive north, taking it all in. Bow Lake is next on the agenda, and an even easier stop than Herbert Lake. Pull in the lay-by, and that is it.

You are presented with a mirror like lake, and some stunning mountains as a back drop.

This is likely to be busier than Herbert Lake, as the stop is a pretty obvious one. With it just being a lay by, there will be many adhoc stops, from people that perhaps hadn’t planned on stoping but couldn’t resist.

Another beautiful lake, and totally child friendly!


Peyto Lake

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

Location: 4.5 miles / 7 mins from Bow Lake (28 miles / 38 minutes from Lake Louise)

On this list, this is probably one of the trickiest things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children. When we visited in 2017, you couldn’t park near the entrance to the walkway.

It was reserved for busses and disabled. As a result, my wife dropped me, and I took the 10 minute walk to the tourist laden lookout point to get this photo.

Click to see bigger

You have a couple of of alternatives.

Drop the little ones off with an adult at the start of the walk, and make your way slowly while the other parks the car in the official car park, or you all park the car park and make the 600m walk to the look out.

Either are good alternatives.

Click on the little thumbnail to see the locations.

1 = Disabled / Bus parking. Drop the family off, and head to number 2 to park the car
2 = Main Car Park. the walk from here to number 3 is about 600m
3 – Main viewing area

I think with a smaller child, then number 1 is the best option. Whichever you choose, do not miss this one, it is pretty amazing, as you can see from the photo.


Columbia Icefields / Athabasca Glacier

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

Location:
From Peyto Lake – 54 miles / 1h 10 mins
Starting From Lake Louise – 81 miles / 1h 43 mins
Or Starting From Jasper – 64 miles / 1h 25 mins

Are you looking for things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children, and want a bit of an adventure, check the Athabasca Glacier out

Walking out on a glacier and the fact you get to go on a monster ice truck is a definite thumbs up from the children. Guided tours are from the Columbia Icefields centre, where you can park.

We booked our tickets via BanffJasperCollection, when we did this in 2017

Tickets can be purchased for just the Glacier experience, or you can bundle with other attractions to save money, the Banff Gondola for example. We added the Columbia Icefield Skywalk too.

You are advised to book in advance for this, as it is a popular attraction, and pick a time. We picked a time we know we would make, after seeing all the other amazing sights on the Icefields Parkway. It did take a bit of planning, but barring any unforeseen circumstances, you should be ok.

Booking in advance saves 10%, which helps, because at the time of typing, adult tickets were $114 for each, children under 5 are free. Important info you are going out on a Glacier. If you step out of the truck, it will be onto ice. Ice is slippy. Ice is hard. You have been warned!


Columbia Icefield Skywalk

things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

Location: 4 miles / 6 min from the Columbia Icefields Centre.

You can chose to do this on its own, if Monster-Trucking out onto the Athabasca Glacier is not for you.

The Skywalk is situated just a short drive north of the Columbia Icefields centre.

However, there is no parking (or toilets) at the Skywalk, so you are required to take the free shuttle from the Icefields Centre. It is a short drive, and there are regular busses to and from it.

You can expect to spend about 30 minutes at the Skywalk, so if you allow an hour for this with the shuttle, you should be ok.

The views are great, and you get the chance to see wildlife on the mountain side below. We spotted some mountain goats wandering around while we were there.

Sunwapta Falls

Location: 30 miles / 41 minutes from the Columbia Icefields Centre

By no means as visually awakening as some of the things you will see, but worth of 5 minutes of your time, for sure.

Easy to park, and an easy stroll to Sunwapta Falls. We are back on track for the simple, awe inspiring stop offs! The falls are just a couple of hundred yards from the car park, a super easy walk.

Follow the path, and cross onto the bridge.

There are longer walks / hikes, but if, like us, you have a small person with you, then this may be all you can muster. Especially as this could be your 8th stop of the day, and you have already been on the road for 9 hours!

Athabasca Falls

Location: 15 miles / 20 minutes from Sunwapta Falls

Another waterfall worthy of a quick stop off. To see the Athabasca Falls, you do need to leave the main Icefield Parkway / Highway 93 and travel 600m or so, turning into the ample car park.

The falls are a short walk from the car park. Most of which is on smooth paths, but as you approach the falls, there are steps to navigate if you need to go further.

Like Sunwapta, they are not ‘take your breath away’ stunning, but with such an easy stop off, it would be foolish to drive right past, and not jump out the car for a look.

A Summary of things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children

So there you have it. 9 things to see on the Icefields Parkway with children. They are all amazing to see. From Lakes, to Mountains, to Glaciers and waterfalls.

They are easy to get to, and you can, with a bit of planning, do them all in one day.

These sights are all ones we have seen on our 2017 road trip. I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions of great place to see on the Icefields Parkway.

Until then, take the road trip. Take the kids, and introduce them to some of the wonders this world has to offer!

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