Guide to the Icefields Parkway: An Epic Road Trip

This guide to the Icefields Parkway tells you everything you need to know to plan your journey down the two-lane highway that connects Banff and Jasper. The Icefields Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 93, stretches 144 miles (232 km) and is considered to be one of the world’s most scenic mountain drives. To truly enjoy the breathtaking scenery this route has to offer, make sure to take your time and stop along the way. If you are planning a trip to Banff and/or Jasper National Parks, this guide to the Icefields Parkway will help you maximize your time and plan ahead!

The drive from Banff to Jasper would take approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes end to end without any stops. In addition to the stunning Canadian Rockies, there are numerous glaciers, turquoise lakes, and waterfalls to entertain you along the route. It is also one of the best places to spot wildlife. Pull over at one of the scenic overlooks to snap pictures, go on a short hike to view some waterfalls, or learn about the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre. Depending on where you stop and how long you spend at each place, the drive could (and should!) take most of the day.

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oTENTik Camping in Canada: Why it’s Awesome

oTENTik camping in Canada. Have you tried it? If not, you are missing out on a fun experience!

When researching lodging in and around national parks, I always try to search out unique accommodations. Preferably something in the park or as close to the park as possible. Because we fly to most destinations, camping isn’t usually an option for us and “glamping” is more my style anyway: I am fine cooking my food on a fire and peeing in the woods – I just want warmth and a bed please and thanks! And if someone else could set up the tent, I am even happier.

On a recent road trip which included Banff, the Icefields Parkway and Jasper, I found the perfect solution: the oTENTik. Of course the Canadians thought up this affordable “almost-glamping-but-still-camping” experience! And it was perfect.

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Lake Agnes Tea House Trail (Banff National Park)

Hiking Highlight

What do you do on the first day of your trip when the forecast is a high of 42°F and rain? When you have six kids with you who are grumbling about the possibility of being outside at all? You go for a hike. You’re in Banff, after all. Gather the cold weather gear, tell the kids to suck it up, and choose a long one. 

We chose to hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House for a chance to see three lakes, a waterfall, and some “Beehives” (whatever those were supposed to be). Hot tea and homemade baked treats at the midway point were a great incentive for us to get going. Despite the weather, some of us insisted on shorts.

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3 Iconic Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Copy of Hiking Highlight

Located about 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park is accessible as a day trip or a great stop during a long road trip of Southern California. It is also a hot-spot for advertisers and Instagrammers: many commercials have been filmed here, and the stark desert landscape can be found in numerous photo shoot backdrops. With it’s crazy-looking trees, interesting rock formations and expansive blue skies, it is a landscape that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.

Hiking is a popular activity in Joshua Tree and there are many opportunities – from nature walks to strenuous treks. Make sure to be prepared with a ton of water as the desert conditions are extremely dehydrating. The following hikes are in order from the West Entrance Station and offer a good variety if you have limited time.

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What Makes Joshua Tree National Park so Unique?

One of the national parks long on my list was Joshua Tree National Park. But I didn’t know too much about it except for its desert setting and the Dr. Suess-like trees that frequently show up in photographs. From what I could tell during preliminary research, the park isn’t known for its sweeping vistas akin to Yosemite, Zion and Grand Canyon. It obviously doesn’t host common national park features like lakes, waterfalls and rivers. I was skeptical.

We decided to see for ourselves during a recent spring break trip. We spent two full days in the park as a stopover between Death Valley and the Channel Islands. Our visit was in April: a little too early for wildflower blooms (boo), a little too early for rattlesnake appearances (yay), late enough for the daytime temps to reach Hot AF! Here are the features that make this park unique and worth your time. Now that I’m in the know.

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Road Trip: Death Valley, Joshua Tree and Channel Islands National Parks

A 9-day/600-mile road trip covering National Parks of Southern California – including Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Channel Islands. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 9-15. Enjoyed hiking over sand dunes, watching Joshua Tree sunsets, and sea-kayaking. Stayed in a variety of accommodations. Month of travel: April.

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