The best photo stops along Alberta’s scenic Icefields Parkway

Holding bragging rights as one of the world’s most scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada is a photographer’s dream.

The 200 kilometre roadway links Banff National Park with the town of Jasper, winding through steep mountain passes dotted with aqua-marine lakes, thick forests, sweeping valleys and glaciers. The drive typically only takes about four hours, but with all the eye-candy along the way most visitors take their time navigating the iconic highway.

Here are some of the best photo stops to include on an Icefields Parkway itinerary, which is one of Alberta’s best road trips.

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Vermillion Lakes

The Icefields Parkway drive technically doesn’t start until just past Lake Louise, but since most visitors begin the journey in Calgary the first scenic stop is usually the town of Banff. Vermillion Lakes is found just off the Trans-Canada Highway, and is absolutely spectacular at sunrise when rose and gold hues paint the sky behind the mountain peaks.

Vermillion Lakes

Vermillion Lakes in Banff, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise

One of the most popular spots to visit in all of Alberta, Lake Louise is gorgeous year-round. During warm months you’ll find people canoeing, kayaking or hiking around its teal waters, or heading over to nearby Moraine Lake which has graced many a magazine cover. Winter is equally magical, when Lake Louise is covered in sparkling snow drifts and staff from the iconic Chateau Lake Louise carve out skating rinks and an ice castle.

RELATED: 7 tips for driving the Icefields Parkway during winter

The Chateau Lake Louise. Supplied.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise, Alberta, CanadaHerbert Lake

This gorgeous spot is found just a few minutes after turning off Highway 1 to get on to the Icefields Parkway. Early birds may arrive to find wispy morning fog clinging to Herbert Lake’s surface, creating an ethereal scene. The lake is a popular spot during summer due to the adjacent campground, and those willing to brave the chilly waters are welcome to go for a dip.

Herbert Lake


Bow Lake and Bow Summit

Towering Bow Summit casts a perfect reflection in the still waters of Bow Lake, which is one of the largest lakes in Banff National Park. The historic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge sits on its shores, and is surrounded by flat walking paths perfect for soaking in the scenery.

Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway

Bow Lake

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is one of the most popular Icefields Parkway stops, thanks to its vibrant turquoise hue surrounded by a valley of thick firs and towering mountain ranges. There are some great hikes around it for those who have time to explore, otherwise one of the best lookout points is found in the marked area just off the highway. Photographers will want to time their visit for the afternoon to enjoy the best light.

Peyto Lake along the Icefields Parkway

Peyto Lake

Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefield

This roadside attraction can be a tough sell for those who are scared of heights, as the Glacier Skywalk’s glass-bottom walkway juts out a heart-pounding 918 feet above the alpine valley. The adrenaline rush is well worth it, since visitors can enjoy unobstructed, panoramic views of Sunwapta Valley from the one-kilometre walkway.

Tours leave from the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, which is where adventures to explore the nearby Athabasca Glacier are also booked. On that excursion, guests hop onto a massive, specially-designed bus which drives right on to the glacier, and at one point are allowed to explore the other-worldly landscape on foot.

The Columbia Icefield

Athabasca Falls

This is one of the best spots along the way to make a roadside pitstop, as there is ample parking, facilities and viewpoints. The highlight is Athabasca Falls, which thunders through a narrow gorge and is either frozen over with ice crystals, or a brilliant turquoise blue depending on the time of year.

winter activities in jasper, alberta, canada

Athabasca Falls


The Icefields Parkway tour ends in the charming mountain town of Jasper. There are plenty of adventures in the area year-round, including canoeing, hiking, ice climbing, snowshoeing and skiing. Scenic spots include Pyramid Lake and Maligne Canyon, as well as the charming Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge situated on the shores of Beauvert Lake.

A shooting star goes over Spirit Island on Maligne Lake in Jasper, Alberta. Supplied.

Fairmont Jasper PJ Party

Lac Beauvert

winter activities in jasper, alberta, canada

Pyramid Island

The best Icefields Parkway hotels:

Icefields Parkway map:



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9 Responses

  1. arisakubota says:

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  1. July 10, 2018

    […] The best photo stops along Alberta’s scenic Icefields Parkway […]

  2. July 10, 2018

    […] RELATED: The best photo stops along Alberta’s scenic Icefields ParkwayIt’s safe to assume you’ll want to pull over at every single roadside stop along the way, as each one presents another stunning vista of a snow-covered lake, spectacular mountain range, or forest of trees dusted with snow like icing sugar. Building in a few extra hours of time to your Icefields Parkway itinerary means an opportunity to snap some snowy selfies without worrying about the clock. […]

  3. April 1, 2020

    […] The best photo stops along Alberta’s scenic Icefields Parkway The best spots to take photos in Calgary The ultimate guide to the best of Banff, […]

  4. July 29, 2020

    […] The best photo stops along Alberta’s scenic Icefields Parkway […]

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    […] RELATED: The best photo stops along Alberta’s scenic Icefields Parkway […]

  6. March 2, 2021

    […] more time to spare? Consider heading up the ridiculously-scenic Icefields Parkway which leads to Jasper National Park: the turnoff is just past Lake […]

  7. March 15, 2021

    […] Athabasca Glacier in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Found along the stunningly-scenic Icefields Parkway linking Jasper and Lake Louise, it’s one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the […]

  8. March 29, 2021

    […] to include on your Icefields Parkway itinerary are Bow Lake, Peyto Lake which is famous for its vibrant turquoise hue, the Columbia Icefield and […]

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