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5 Ways to Prepare for your Winter Journey Down the Icefields Parkway

Author: Katherine Speur, Tourism Jasper

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David Guenther

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ARE YOU READY FOR ONE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR DRIVES IN THE WORLD?

The Icefields Parkway allows visitors to experience the awe-inspiring mountains, epic glaciers, frozen waterfalls and ice-covered lakes that define the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. 

Before heading out on your winter adventure, here are a few precautions to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey down the Icefields Parkway:

1. FILL UP ON GAS & CHECK ROAD CONDITIONS

There is no gas station that operates on the Icefields Parkway in the winter, so please ensure that you fill up in Jasper or Banff before making the trip. Also, be sure to check the road conditions through Alberta’s Official Road Reports. If you're without internet, dial 511 on your phone for any updates.

Tip: Your vehicle must be equipped with snow tires, which are mandatory from November 1st-April 1st.

2. WATCH FOR WILDLIFE

Staying on the lookout for wildlife is important year-round in Jasper, but in winter keep your eyes peeled for big horned sheep, mountain goats, coyotes and deer. Always remember – keep wildlife wild by not feeding or approaching them.

Along the Icefields Parkway there’s a 20 km stretch of road that runs through the heart of a winter caribou habitat. As one of Canada’s species-at-risk, the Jasper herd of Woodland caribou represents a last stand for this majestic animal in the mountain parks. Maintain the speed limit and always be aware of your surroundings. 

3. LEAVE EARLY

Taking a moment to appreciate all the jaw-dropping scenic views along the Icefields Parkway is part of the experience of this iconic drive. Consider leaving early to give yourself plenty of leisure time for the trip. We can assure you, you won’t regret taking a moment to safely pull off to a roadside stop to snap a few more pictures or explore the all the beautiful winter gems that the parkway has to offer!

4. BRING SUPPLIES

Always be sure to bring along 1) extra warm clothing and 2) extra food and water. The reality is – cars can break down and cell phone reception isn’t always accessible throughout the whole stretch of highway. Plus, it’s always extra comforting knowing you have that extra granola bar in case hunger strikes! 

5. KNOW WHERE TO STAY

Did you know that there are six hostels and four campgrounds you can stay at along the Icefields Parkway in the winter?

To make a reservation at one of the hostels, Call 866-762-4122 or visit www.hihostels.ca for information and reservations. 

Wapiti Campground and Whirlpool Campground offer front country camping during the winter, while Big Bend and Wilcox Winter campgrounds offer backcountry camping. If you are interested in making a reservation at Wilcox, call 780-852-6177. For all other reservations, visit: reservation.pc.gc.ca.

For more information on travelling the Icefields Parkway in the winter, please visit the Parks Canada website. 

SAFE TRAVELS!

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