Banff and Jasper National Parks Road Trip

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If spectacular alpine scenery and beautiful turquoise lakes are part of your ideal road trip itinerary, then the Banff and Jasper National Parks road trip is a must.  Beginning in Calgary, Alberta the journey heads north by northwest toward Banff and Lake Louise and then onto Jasper before culminating in Mount Robson Provincial Park with stunning views of it’s namesake mountain, the highest in all the Canadian Rockies.Canadian Rockies

Below is the step-by-step itinerary with links to TripAdvisor where you can research more about each destination and find great hotel deals and compare prices.

Begin your trip in the prairie city of Calgary, the largest in Alberta with over 1 million residents, and head west toward the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Calgary, Alberta

Next make a stop in Cochrane to visit the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site before heading for the mountains.Cochrane, Alberta

Continue on into spectacular Banff National Park.Banff National Park

Once in the park head north and make a visit to Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and learn about the cultural heritage of the Canadian Rockies and other mountain ranges. Photos of Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff
This photo of Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Next, head to the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum to view colorful Native costumes and artifacts from the Nations First Peoples. Photos of Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, Banff
This photo of Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A little further up is Cave and Basin National Historic Site where you can visit the nine natural geothermal mineral springs that formed the genesis of Banff National Park. Photos of Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff
This photo of Cave and Basin National Historic Site is courtesy of TripAdvisor

More hot water lies ahead as you visit Upper Hot Springs where you can sit in the geo-warmed pools with views of the nearby mountains.Photos of Banff Upper Hot Springs, Banff
This photo of Banff Upper Hot Springs is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A short distance away is the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs, one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. Photos of The Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff
This photo of The Fairmont Banff Springs is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Next up is Lake Minnewanka where you can take a walk along the shore and view the surrounding mountains. Lake Minnewanka

As you head out of Banff make a stop for a hike on Johnston Canyon Trail and view the waterfalls along the trial.  Continue onto emerald colored Lake Louise where you can visit a second grand railway hotel, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.Lake Louise


Further north lies Bow Lake and yet another setting with spectacular views of glaciers and alpine landscapes. Bow Lake

Drive further north to another glacier-fed lake, Peyto Lake.  The lakes get their beautiful turquoise color from rock flour, silt-sized particles of rock that flow into the lakes. Peyto Lake

Tired of Lakes? Drive further north to visit Athabasca Falls.
Athabasca Falls

Now its onto Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Jasper National Park

Drive on to Maligne Canyon to view the 160-foot drop into the canyon and grab a bite at the Maligne Canyon Restaurant (open April thru October). Maligne Canyon

Next head to Sunwapta Falls, which is actually two falls (an upper and lower) fed by the Athabasca Glacier. Sunwapta Falls

End your trip by heading west and crossing into British Columbia to pay a visit to Mount Robson Provincial Park, home to Mount Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at nearly 13,000 feet and a fitting end to this epic road trip.Mount Robson

NG Drives of a LifetimeThis road trip is one of National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime.  Find out more about the Banff and Jasper National Parks road trip and other ultimate road trips on the National Geographic Traveler Website or purchase the beautiful hardcopy book of 500 ultimate road trips from the National Geographic online store.  Buy Now