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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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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Road Trip: National Parks of Utah and Arizona

An 11-day/1600-mile road trip covering National Parks of Utah and Arizona – including Zion, Bryce, Arches and the Grand Canyon. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 6-13. Enjoyed hiking among and above hoodoos, canyons and arches. Stayed in a variety of accommodations. Month of travel: April.

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Road Trip: South Dakota and Wyoming

An 8-day road trip from Saint Paul, MN to the Black Hills of South Dakota via Badlands National Park. Detour to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming on the way home. Travelers included 2 families of 5, with kids aged 4-10 years old. Lots of outdoor adventure and a variety of accommodations from camping to VRBO. Month of travel: July.

Companion post to Black Hills Gold

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Road Trip: Pacific Northwest

A 9-day city tour/road trip covering Vancouver, Seattle + Bainbridge Island and Portland. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 6-12. Stayed in mostly AirBnB accommodations. Month of travel: July.

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