The Best Way To Experience The Icefields Parkway From A Big Rig

Connecting Canada’s two most popular national parks is Highway 93, or the Icefields Parkway, described as “one of the most beautiful journeys on the planet.” And that is no exaggeration. The drive is more than a means of getting from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park; it is a destination. At every turn, the scenery is breathtaking, as the parkway winds through a valley surrounded by grand mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, dramatic peaks, and emerald lakes.

The well-maintained and wide-shouldered parkway is 234 km (145 miles) long between the towns of Jasper and Lake Louise. From Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court in Banff National Park to Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park, the drive is 294 km (182 miles). Despite being in the Canadian Rockies, the Icefields Parkway has minor mountainous grades, the steepest being the Big Bend, which is nothing to write home about. Most vehicles will have no problem on this road.

For the most stunning views, a northbound drive on the Icefields Parkway that begins in the early morning is recommended. The downside to this is that most views are on the left side of the road, as are the pull-offs. Traffic gets heavier as the day wears on, but the early bird will avoid much of it. We drove the parkway during peak season twice and found the traffic to be pleasantly moderate. The busiest parts of the drive are the popular pull-offs where the views of the mountains or waterfalls are outstanding.

At many of these locations, the parking lot was either full or too small to accommodate us. The size of our rig (33-foot fifth-wheel), and the fact we were traveling with friends who also pull a fifth-wheel, reduced our pull-off opportunities substantially. Truck campers, travel vans, and Class C (non-towing) motorhomes will have all the pull-off opportunities the parkway offers. Basically, you can plan the entire day and stop wherever you choose to enjoy the view from an overlook, walk the trail along a waterfall, or do some hiking.

Given the size of our RV, and the fact that our travel party included two rigs, I prepared ahead of time for our drive from Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court to Whistlers Campground. Because of the distance, a fuel stop was not necessary (although there is a station along the way that offers gas and diesel). I researched the Icefields Parkway website ( for descriptions of scenic pull-offs to be sure we didn’t miss anything and to exclude those sites that could not accommodate our two rigs. To determine this, I used Google’s satellite map to study the route. Once I identified stops, I entered them into our GPS.

The most stunning views along the Icefields Parkway are north of the Columbia Icefield within Jasper National Park. However, driving a big rig makes it difficult to experience all of them. For instance, we could not get to Jasper’s crown jewels, Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls. Parking at either one requires a left turn onto a narrow road that leads to a parking lot that is unaccommodating to big rigs and will most likely be full by the time you get there.

And here is where I finally get to my point and that is – if you want to truly experience the Icefields Parkway with a big RV, you must plan to stay at one of Jasper National Park’s big-rig-friendly campgrounds, Whistlers or Wapiti. Both are located alongside the parkway before it ends a few miles north near downtown Jasper. We scored a 10-day reservation at Whistlers (full hookup), which allowed us to devote a few days to the parkway.

Having to drive only 18 miles from the campground, we arrived at Athabasca Falls’ nearly empty parking lot at sunup, the most exquisite time of the day to experience the majestic falls and canyons. This is also true for Sunwapta Falls. We also visited Goats and Glaciers Overlook to attempt to photograph the goats and returned a second time to try our luck again. And we spent one morning hiking the Valley of Five Lakes. All along the Icefields Parkway and short driving distances from the campground.

It is possible to spend the night along the parkway in one of the few campgrounds within Jasper National Park, but they are big-rig (> 35 ft) unfriendly. An option is Icefields Centre RV at the Columbia Icefields (which straddles Banff and Jasper national parks). It is essentially a 100-space parking lot for big rigs that allows free day parking and overnight parking (unserviced) for a fee. It would be worth spending the night if you plan to tour the Columbia Icefield with the Skywalk, but no reservations are taken.

Be sure to visit to learn more about one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world, and to help you plan your travels. If you intend to camp with your big rig at either Banff or Jasper national parks, be sure to get on Parks Canada’s website ( well in advance to set up an account and prepare for the reservation website’s launch day for each park.

Connie Mier and her wife Vivian have been living the fulltime RV dream since 2018. They have traveled the United States and Canada exploring the wilderness parks, touring cities and small towns, and learning American history and culture. When not traveling, their home on wheels is parked on Chokoloskee Island, Florida. You can read about their adventures and see more of Connie’s photos at You can also see Connie’s nature photos from her travels and Florida’s Everglades at her website

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