- Travel the length of the Icefields Parkway, one of Canada’s national treasures
- Hike the highlights of 3 National Parks: Banff, Kootenay, & Jasper
- Spend an afternoon paddling the turquoise waters of Lake Louise
- Explore vibrant mountain towns and stay with friendly Canadian hosts
- Watch for wildlife: big horn sheep, bears, elk, caribou, and mountain goats
One of the world’s most scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway connects some of the best hiking in the Canadian Rockies. Stretch your legs on winding trails over glacial moraines, past imposing peaks, and along turquoise lakeshores. Then hit the open road to your next destination.
From bustling streets to rock-strewn trails, Banff is the perfect introduction to the size and grandeur of this landscape. Enjoy delicious Alberta beef or bison with a side of Canada’s famous poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds) – the perfect reward to a day on the trail. Heading north, Lake Louise’s glacial waters beckon you for a paddle or wake up to catch sunrise over Victoria Glacier. Jasper, a railway frontier town and former fur-trading depot, is the perfect end to your Rocky Mountain escape; choose between a soak in the hot springs and a refreshing visit to the microbrewery.
Day 1: Arrive Banff
Choose to fly into Calgary, Alberta, and rent a car (we can arrange
this as an add-on) for the easy drive west on the Trans-Canada Highway
to Banff (1.5 hours).
In addition to its rugged landscape and glacier-studded peaks, Banff
boasts the title of being Canada’s first national park and the third in
the world. It is now part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks
World Heritage Site.
The town of Banff, the highest town in Canada, provides bountiful
opportunities to dine, drink, shop, or enjoy its public events.
Day 2: Hike Tunnel Mountain & Explore Banff
Wake up to the imposing peaks of Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount
Norquay, and Cascade Mountain encircling the village of Banff. After a
hearty breakfast, walk straight from downtown to your trailhead. The
ascent of Tunnel Mountain is not long in distance but take your time on
its easy-going switchbacks. Upon gaining the top of the ridge, traverse
to the 5545-foot summit where the iconic red chairs will tempt you to
linger a while, overlooking the Bow Valley, Vermillion Lakes, and
In the afternoon, choose to go for a soak at the Banff Upper Hot
Springs just outside of town (entrance fee payable locally). ‘Take the
waters’ for a relaxing and healing experience, as visitors have done for
over a hundred years. Or simply walk the bustling streets of downtown,
where you won’t be hard-pressed to find a delicious pint, souvenir shop,
or art gallery.
Hike: 3.2 mi +/- 850 ft, 2 hrs
Day 3: Hike Stanley Glacier & Drive to Lake Louise
A short drive will take you to the Stanley Glacier trailhead for your
half-day hike up the glacially-carved valley. Waterfalls, wildflowers,
and views of the vertical cliffs of Stanley Peak will keep you
captivated during the ascent. Take a break atop the moraine in an
otherworldly landscape of rock, ice, and sky. As you descend through the
alpine zone, keep an eye out for pika, marmots, and ptarmigan, just
some of the ‘locals’ out here.
A half-hour drive to Lake Louise will bring you to the jaw-dropping
amphitheater that rises above the lake’s turquoise waters. If you
haven’t felt it yet, this towering formation will give you the
impression of just how small you are. Head to the lakeshore in the late
evening or early morning to avoid the daytime crowds for a taste of
Hike: 5.2 mi +/- 1200 ft, 3 hrs
Overnight: Lake Louise
Day 4: Hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse & Optional Canoe on Lake Louise
Tucked into a hanging valley above Lake Louise, Lake Agnes and its inviting teahouse (serving light refreshments) consistently top the list of Rockies hikes and best of Banff National Park. En route you’ll pass the calm waters of aptly-named Mirror Lake before ascending via wooden stairs to Lake Agnes. From here, you can soak up the views before returning the way you came. For those with more energy, choose to extend your hike and make a full circuit, including the Plain of Six Glacier teahouse.
Upon returning to Lake Louise, choose to rent a canoe for an hour or two (fee payable locally) for a new and different perspective. As you skim the water’s surface, imagine the 295-foot-deep basin being carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age. The cirque holding Victoria Glacier to the west is made even more magical with a view from the water. Turn in early for a full day tomorrow on the Icefields Parkway.
Hike: 4.4 mi, +/-1280 ft, 3.5 hrs
Optional Extension: Lake Agnes-Plain of Six Glaciers Circuit, 10.7 mi +/- 2272 ft, 5 hrs
Overnight: Lake Louise
Day 5: Drive Icefields Parkway & Hike Wilcox Pass
One of the planet’s top scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway is truly the ultimate road trip. As you round each bend, you’ll be awed again and again by the striking cliff bands, waterfalls, spires, and striated peaks. With plenty of places to pull off for photos and vistas, the Icefields Parkway will keep your attention from the moment you hit the road. But for the full experience, get an early start and leave time to go beyond the highway…
After a morning’s rest (1 hour 40 minutes driving), your legs will be ready to tackle Wilcox Pass, one of the best hikes in Jasper National Park. Starting close to tree line, this hike delivers dramatic views of Athabasca Glacier and the surrounding mountains. Once you’re up in the broad pass, wildflowers and bighorn sheep steal the show and you’ll feel a world away from the car. More than halfway through your drive, this hike offers the perfect break before the last leg of the journey up to Jasper.
Hike: 5 mi +/-1100 ft, 3 hrs
Day 6: Sulphur Skyline Hike & Miette Hot Springs
The Sulphur Skyline Trail is known for its backcountry views into several remote valleys. Your effort is rewarded as you ascend slowly but steadily to the turnaround point. At the top of the ridge, you’ve earned 360-degree views across a wild expanse of western Canada’s classic sawtooth summits.
You’ve also earned an afternoon soak, and in just three hours roundtrip you’re back to the starting point and ready to sit back and relax at the Miette Hot Springs (fee payable locally). With a unique blend of natural minerals and the title of the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies, this is the ideal end to your self-guided hiking tour.
Head back into town for an evening in downtown Jasper, an unpretentious mountain town that still retains the feel of the last frontier. A long list of restaurants, bars, and shops make this a fitting place to celebrate your adventures - or plan your next one!
Hike: 5 mi +/-2300 ft, 3 hrs
Day 7: Onward Travel
Depending on your plans, hop in the car for the trip south to Calgary, head east to Edmonton, take the train to Vancouver from here. Perhaps you’re interested in exploring for another week on our Western Rockies Drive & Hike tour. We’re happy to help you decide what fits best for your Canadian adventure.
Stay six nights in hand-picked accommodations, chosen for their character, comfort, and Rocky Mountain charm. While each accommodation differs in style - from B&Bs to cabins, lodges, and boutique hotels - they all offer outstanding service, excellent food and warm hospitality.
As a highly popular summer destination with a short hiking season, lodging in this region fills very early; therefore early booking is recommended. The properties shown here are the ones we use most frequently. If we are unable to secure you a room in the following properties at the time of your booking, we will do our best to accommodate you in an alternate property which we have selected for their standard of comfort (we will let you know this before we confirm your booking). For some nights it is also possible to upgrade your lodging.
This trip is based on two people sharing a room. If
you’d like separate rooms, a single supplement is required. If you would
like to request a twin room (same room with two separate beds), please
notify us during booking so we can request this option where it is
available. This trip is not available to solo hikers.
Breakfast is included each morning. Typical breakfasts include juice, tea, coffee, yogurt, granola, breads, jams, eggs or a choice of hot dish. Please notify us of any dietary restrictions at the time of booking.
Lunches and dinners are not included. If you would like a ‘hikers lunch’, some of your accommodations will be able to prepare this for you for an additional fee. Should you choose this, be sure to order it the evening beforehand. If your hosts cannot prepare lunch or you’d like more selection, there are places to purchase picnic provisions in each of your overnight destinations and we recommend taking a lunch with you on the trail. For dinner, choose from the nearby restaurants; just ask your host if reservations are needed.
You may opt to add extras nights during this itinerary as there is plenty more to see, do, and hike in all three destinations. For further details and pricing, please ask us at the time of booking.
Le Beaujolais B&B at Thea's House
Described as Elegant Alpine - think spacious, king rooms with gas fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs, and mountain view balconies - let the Moser family treat you. Wake up to an indulgent spread including daily signature dishes from the kitchen. Swap hiking stories with the Mosers and walk just two blocks to downtown Banff.
Hosted by Theresa and James, this boutique B&B boasts 4 cozy bedrooms, a great room with wood-burning fireplace, expansive outdoor patio, spectacular views, and western country design. Fuel up on a hearty, healthy two-course breakfast before you head out for the day.
A quintessential rustic mountain lodge, Deer Lodge was originally constructed in 1923 as a teahouse, Now it welcomes guests to sleep, eat, drink, and relax in the rooftop hot tub with views of Victoria Glacier.
Tucked in the pines just outside Jasper, the Tekarra Lodge offers tranquillity without sacrificing comfort – lodge rooms and cabins are both adorned with rustic Canadian décor. Grab breakfast (or more) at the lodge restaurant, comfort food with a focus on local ingredients.
Possible Upgrade - Jasper Park Lodge
This luxury resort encompasses a historic lodge, signature cabins, and a lakeside location. Truly get away from it all and celebrate your trip’s end in style!
This trip is available mid-June through early-October (ending
Canadian Thanksgiving, the second Monday of the month). As this region
is a highly popular tourist destination, we suggest booking as far in
advance as possible for a better chance at securing your desired dates.
This tour is available to start any day of the week.
When To Go?
The hiking season in the Canadian Rockies is relatively short as snow
can remain in the mountains until early summer and autumn arrives early
with cool temperatures and higher chances of snow falling (although it
can snow during the summer months here too). The opening of trails in
early season is dependent on the previous winter’s snowpack and can
change dramatically from year to year.
June and July bring the longest days, with July and August being the
warmest months. However, weather is variable in the Rockies, and you
should be prepared for a range of conditions. The optimal months for
wildflowers are mid-July to mid-August, which also brings higher numbers
of tourists. September and early October are characterized by typically
drier weather and fewer crowds, making this a great time to visit.
Depending on your adventure goals, any time between June and October
offers a memorable Canadian Rockies experience!
Navigating is easy using the Macs Adventure Navigation App. Your
daily hikes will be mapped in the app with GPX tracks, route notes, and
turn-by-turn directions. You can download all of the routes for use
offline, which means you won’t need cell service or Wi-Fi (which are
often unreliable outside of your accommodations). Written turn-by-turn
driving directions are included in the app; although the drives are
straightforward, you may still consider using a GPS device while in the
car. You will also have 24/7 Macs Adventure telephone support.
Experience, Fitness & Grade
The hiking on this trip is easy to moderate. The hikes are designed to complement the drives and show you the best of each destination. Hikes will typically take 2-5 hours and on average involve between 4 and 5 miles of walking with 1,300 feet of ascent and descent. To get the most from your trip, you should be a regular hiker or do some training prior to departure to get accustomed to walking every day.
There is an option to extend one of the half-day hikes for a full day adventure but be aware that this is a longer and challenging extension.
The hiking trails are paths on dirt, gravel, and rock – although they are maintained by Parks Canada there is always the possibility of washed out, snow-covered, or overgrown conditions.
Note: You will be hiking and traveling in bear country. Your pre-departure information pack will outline the best practices for responsible travel in bear country and other wildlife-specific practices.
Our pre-departure information pack includes a detailed equipment list
on what to take with you. This includes warm and cold weather gear,
hiking boots, rain gear, and lots of other specifics. If you have any
questions about what to take, we'd be happy to share our own top tips
You will need a car for this itinerary. Either plan to drive to the
trip start or fly to Calgary and rent a car (1.5 hours from Banff). if
you wish, we can arrange a rental car for you for an additional charge.
Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your
belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that
may arise before or during your trip. For more information, please visit
our travel insurance page by clicking this link.
Getting to Banff
Fly into Calgary International Airport (YYC) and rent a car from there. Driving to Banff takes 1.5 hours.
Getting from Jasper
You may choose to return your car and fly from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) (5 hour drive). You may also drive to return your car and fly from the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) (4 hour drive).
Alternatively, you may return your rental car in Jasper and take the train to onward Canadian destinations.
For US citizens traveling in Canada for less than 180 days, no visa is required. You are required to have a valid passport with a blank passport page.
For non-US citizens travelling to Canada, an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) is required to enter. For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website. See Entry requirements.
- 6 nights in characterful accommodations (B&Bs, lodges, and cabins)
- 6 Breakfasts
- National Parks Passes
- Detailed pre-departure information pack
- Turn-by-turn route notes for driving and hiking
- Macs Adventure Navigation App
- 24/7 telephone support
- Travel to/from Banff and Jasper
- Car rental (Can be added)
- Lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks
- Personal equipment
- Travel Insurance
- Car rental
- Additional nights before, during or after the trip
- Single Room Supplement (if applicable)
- Accommodations upgrades (if applicable)
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized as this destination is extremely popular in the summer months. Please note you can start this tour on any day of the week.
What is responsible travel in bear country?
When traveling in bear country, it’s important to act responsibly for the safety of bears as well as human visitors to the ecosystem. The Parks Canada information regarding bear country is a helpful place to start learning about best practices. We advise that you always carry bear spray and know how to use it. Since you cannot fly with bear spray, you’ll need to purchase it in Banff when you first arrive. You will also receive further bear country tips in your information pack.