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Road Trip North America - Icefields Parkway



Krissy Vann
Presenter, The Weather Network

Thursday, February 6, 2014, 11:01 AM -

The Icefields parkway is a Canadian gem featuring 230 km of breathtaking scenery. The Icefields Parkway or Highway 93 is a spectacular drive that connects you from Banff National Park to Jasper. Sights to enjoy along the way include Crowfoot Glacier, Saskatchewan River crossing, Columbia Icefield and Athabasca falls just to name a few. Along the way you can enjoy a variety of activities, blossoming plant life and fascinating wildlife. 

The route: 

Before you set out you will need to obtain a Canadian National Parks permit to travel on the Icefields Parkway with stations at Lake Louise and Jasper enforcing this. You won't be getting into arguments trying to figure out if you’re heading the right way. Once you are in Banff National Park you just get yourself onto the Icefields Parkway/AB-93 North and stay on that same stretch of road throughout the 230 km journey. 

The posted speed limit is 90km/h for most of the drive. For those with a lead foot this should not bother you as you’ll want to keep the speed down to enjoy all this route has to offer. The speed limit is reduced further at Saskatchewan River Crossing and the Columbia Icefield area. Average drive times range from 3 to 5 hours depending on traffic and road conditions.

When to travel:

Winter - The Icefields Parkway is open year round, but according to Parks Canada in the winter time you can expect highway closures sometimes as long as 3 days due to weather. 

Meteorologist Gina Ressler says, “Alberta road trips are much more challenging in the winter, for two reasons: 1.) The risk of dangerous road conditions due to poor weather (icy, snow covered roads, or poor visibility), and 2.) Fewer hours of daylight.” 

Parks Canada also reminds drivers that winter tires are required by law to drive on the Icefields Parkway. This law is in effect between November 1st and March 31st or any other time the highway is covered with snow or ice. All season tires just won’t do the trick.

Spring/Fall - Ressler reminds us that the weather you may expect to encounter in the fall and spring could surprise you while traversing the Icefields Parkway, “winter weather isn’t confined to the winter months in Alberta. Winter storms and heavy snowfall can occur in the fall and well into the spring.” 

Check the forecast at The Weather Network before your journey so that you are adequately prepared for the drive.

Summer - Dry sunny days can create the perfect backdrop for enjoying the magnificent scenery. Just make sure to pack the sunglasses before you head out. Even in the summer the weather can surprise you. 

Ressler reminds us, “Temperatures are often cooler at higher elevations. So while the weather might be warm enough for rain at lower elevations, that rain may change to heavy snow in the high elevation mountain passes even in summer.”

Have you ever traveled along the Icefields Parkway? What was your favourite moment? 

When planning your journey remember to take the Beat The Traffic app along the way. It is available on iTunes and Google Play.

BEAT THE TRAFFIC : Get The App. Get There Sooner. Beat the Traffic helps ease your commute with recommended routes and real-time adjustments. Beat the Traffic by downloading it today for Apple and now on Android devices as well.

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