The Icefields Parkway
(French Promenade des Glaciers
), also known as highway 93, traverses the rugged mountain landscape of the Canadian Rockies
between Lake Louise
, with a total length of 230 kilometres (143 mi). The parkway, completed in 1940
, is named for the geographic features it traverses between Banff National Park
and Jasper National Park
, one of the major highlights being the Columbia Icefield.
The parkway is very busy in the summer months of July and August with peak traffic flow of 100,000 vehicles per month. The parkway is primarily a two lane highway with occasional passing lanes. The highway is well engineered to minimize grades and hairpin turns but drivers must also be on the lookout for wildlife, vehicles stopped on the shoulder and cyclists.
Going north from Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway passes the following points of interest:
- Crowfoot glacier
- Bow Summit (2088m) and Peyto Lake
- Mistaya Canyon
- Saskatchewan Crossing
- Parker Ridge
- Columbia Icefield
- Icefield Centre
- Athabasca Falls
- Sunwapta Pass and Sunwapta Falls
A national parks permit is required to travel on the Icefields parkway and permit check stations near Lake Louise and Jasper enforce the law. Commercial trucks are prohibited from using the parkway. The maximum speed limit is 90 km/h (56 mph) although the limit is reduced at Saskatchewan Crossing and the Columbia Icefield area. In winter, chains or all-season radial tires are required by law and road closures are not uncommon.
Limited services are available at Saskatchewan Crossing and the Icefield Centre and then only from April to October. Gasoline is only available at Saskatchewan Crossing.