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The trip from Lake Louise to Jasper is 253 kilometers along one of Canada’s most scenic roads, the Ice fields avenue. The route is almost impossible to do directly; you will surely get distracted and have to stop several times to gaze at turquoise lakes, roaring waterfalls or the impressive Athabasca Glacier. Allow a full day to drive from Lake Louise to Jasper.
Transportation options include driving yourself, taking a tour, hopping on a direct shuttle, or hiring a private transfer service complete with a guide. The route itself is well marked and easy to follow. The highway is single lane in both directions the entire way, with limited opportunities for passing. If you get stuck behind a slow-moving RV, be prepared to stay there for a while.
A drive along the Icefields Parkway is true mountain driving. Even in the height of summer, be prepared for all conditions, even snow. In winter, this route is very lightly traveled and receives significant amounts of snow. If you plan to drive this off-season, make sure you have the right vehicle and all survival gear. No matter what time of year you go, make sure your tank is full. Refuel at Lake Louise; fuel is available in one place along the entire route, and it is expensive.
If you are interested in random hiking or sightseeing, our recommendation is that you drive this route yourself. If you prefer to enjoy the ride, learn a bit about the area, stop only at the highlights, and let someone else do the driving, tours are a great option. Below are the best ways to get from Lake Louise to Jasper.
Note: Some businesses may temporarily close due to recent global health and safety issues.
1. From Lake Louise to Jasper by car
This option provides the greatest freedom of all. If you see an amazing lake, just stop. Bear on the side of the road? Stop and take a photo. Did you bring your hiking boots and want to take a walk to an incredible viewpoint? Park and start walking. It’s all this freedom that turns the relatively short distance into a full day of driving.
if you are looking for rent a carIt’s best to do this in Banff before reaching Lake Louise; Car rental options here are quite limited.
Once you’re in your car, simply head west from Lake Louise until you see the turnoff for Highway 93, also known as the Icefields Parkway. Once you make that turn and go through the park gates (fee required), just stay on this street and you’ll end up in downtown Jasper. Nothing could be easier.
As you ascend from the park gates, the first place you’ll probably want to stop is at arch lake. This large aquamarine lake sits majestically under the Gallo’s foot glacier. If you feel the need to swim in the icy water, and surprisingly many people do, a beach is just below the launch. High and far beyond the red-roofed Num-Ti-Jah Lodge stands Bow Glacier Falls, which is reached via a very scenic 9.2 kilometer round trip trail. This is one of the best hikes in Banff National Park.
After Bow Lake, head higher and keep an eye out for the turnoff for Peyto Lake. Reached via a short trail, this turquoise-colored lake is one of the most spectacular sights along the entire road. As you continue towards Jasper, you’ll pass a series of wonderful campgrounds and overlooks, eventually ending up at the Athabasca Glacier. Stop here and stretch your legs with a hike to the tip of the glacier, or take a guided excursion on top of the ice.
After the glacier, the trail follows the river towards Jasper. Views along the way are mostly waterfalls and include Tangle Creek Falls, Athabasca Falls, and the incredible Sunwapta Falls. You will eventually end up in downtown Jasper where you will find all the services you need.
2. From Lake Louise to Jasper by ferry
If you just want to get between Lake Louise and Jasper and don’t need to stop along the way for sightseeing, a shuttle is a good option. Less expensive than a tour, the shuttle will get you here in three hours.
The ferry is operated by SunDog Tours. Passengers are transported in a medium-sized coach with large windows. Your fare includes one piece of luggage, one carry-on bag, and one personal item. Additional fees are charged for extra baggage and oversized items such as skis or bikes.
3. From Lake Louise to Jasper on Tour
If you want to make the most of your time and leave the driving to someone else, take the 10 hour route Lake Louise to Jasper Ida Excursion. This tour stops at all the highlights along the way, including Bow Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Columbia Ice Fields Weeping Wall, and Athabasca Falls. As well as stopping at key sights, you’ll get interesting insights from your knowledgeable and personable guide.
Lunch is included, as is a Guided Glacier Walk and Glacier Skywalk at the Icefields Center. This tour is part of the longer Banff to Jasper tour, so when you board the bus, don’t be surprised that it’s partially full. The tour will pick you up at your hotel in Lake Louise and drop you off at your hotel in Jasper.
4. From Lake Louise to Jasper by private transfer
If your budget allows, for the ultimate mountain experience, consider arranging a private transfer between Lake Louise and Jasper from SunDog Tours as part of the Journeys service. You will be picked up from your hotel in a luxurious SUV and transported at your own pace to the places you want to see. Along the way, your driver and guide (sometimes combined into one) provide insights into all the key sights.
Going back from Jasper to Lake Louise
It is important to note that tours, transfers, and private transfers also run in the opposite direction, from Jasper to Lake Louise. Tours stop at the same places along the way; The buses don’t stop, except to go to the bathroom.