Two of my favorite places in Canada are Whistler in BC and Jasper in Alberta. In fact, one of my favorite things I’ve ever done during my 2 years living in Whistler was take a road trip from Whistler all the way to Jasper. This is one stunning drive and takes in popular tourist stops like Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway as well as lesser-known stops like Bow Lake and Athabasca Falls.
The drive from Whistler to Jasper is 740 km (460 miles) on the shortest route, this route takes 8.5 hours without stops. But I actually recommend taking the longer 963 km route on the Trans-Canada highway which takes you via Lake Louise. This route takes 11 hours and 40 minutes without stops. In this blog post I will focus on the longer route via Lake Louise as it is so pretty and there’s so much to see!
Whether you take the short or long route I advise allowing a few days to see all the stops properly.
Taking a road trip is one of the best things to do in Whistler and the Whistler to Jasper route is easily one of the most scenic drives in the world. We also recently completed a road trip from Banff to Jasper and a road trip from Whistler to Banff and I must admit both were pretty epic too!
12 best stops on the drive from Whistler to Jasper via Lake Louise
There are so many great places to stop between Whistler and Jasper and some are quick stops like Sicamous and others are require more time (or even a few nights). As I mentioned the route I will describe in this blog post is the longer driving route via Lake Louise which is 963 km (598 miles). I recommend allowing 4 full days for this road trip, spending the night in Kamloops, Reverlstoke and Lake Louise.
Keep in mind the weather when driving this route as conditions can get pretty snowy and icy during the Winter months especially around Revelstoke and Glacier National Park of Canada.
Just under a 30 minute drive from Whistler is the small town of Pemberton. It’s the perfect stop for a coffee at Mt Currie on Arbutus Street, home to the best coffee in the Whistler area. If you’re hungry you can’t go wrong with the burgers at Mile One Eating House.
If you have time one of the best things to do in Pemberton is to hike to Joffre Lakes – this hike can take up to 5 hours to complete. I would say it’s a medium level of difficulty as there are a couple of uphill sections – a reasonable level of fitness is required for this trail. But, I promise the views along the way and the glacier-fed lakes (gatorade blue in color) are well worth the long hike in. In Summer or on warmer days you can go swimming in any of the 3 lakes but be warned they are very cold – an average water temperature of 45 fahrenheit (7 celsius)!! The Joffre Lakes hike is super-popular and the car parks fill up early so get here early to secure a spot.
The city of Kamloops is a great place to spend the first night of your road trip from Whistler to Jasper. There’s awesome restaurants, craft breweries and wineries a-plenty. Forno on 5th has a Mediterranean inspired menu and is a lovely modern restaurant in downtown Kamloops. Whilst, Bright Eye Brewing and Monte Creek Ranch Winery are also worth a visit if you love beer and/or wine.
Pay a visit to Riverside Park for a walk in the evening there’s a sandy river beach, various walking trails and live music events some weekend evenings. If you’re travelling with kids a great place to take them is to the BC Wildlife Park. This is a zoo which homes native animals like grizzly bears and arctic wolves.
If you’re driving from Vancouver to Kamloops you may be interested in this GPS-guided audio tour that is sure to turn this scenic drive into into a sightseeing and trivia game adventure!
Fun fact – Jurassic World 3 and Twilight Zone were both recently filmed in the Kamloops area.
The Sicamous area has over 1000km of coastline so it’s no surprise that some of the best things to do here are water-related. Swim in the warm waters of Sicamous Beach Park or try kayaking, canoeing or SUP paddle boarding all popular activities here.
Treat yourself to homemade ice cream and artisan cheese at D Dutchman Dairy, this bright red building can’t be missed from the road and is very photogenic. We also loved Blondies Cafe for great coffee and yummy smoothie bowls.
Spend your first or second night of the road trip in Sicamous, I loved the Pines Motel which is very reasonably priced.
Did you know – Sicamous is known as the houseboat capital of Canada
4. Revelstoke mountain and town
‘Small town charm, big mountain adventure” is the motto here in Revelstoke. In the town there’s lots to do, think small museums, a brewery tour, an escape room and even axe-throwing.
Revelstoke mountain is the mecca of alpine mountain biking and offers incredible lift accessed biking. If you’re visiting in Winter – the mountain has 65 ski runs. Whilst, in the Summer you can enjoy the Pipe Mountain Coaster, the Aerial Adventure Park and of course the mountain biking as mentioned above. No matter the season, there’s a full day of activities at the Resort.
Another unique activity near Revelstoke town is the Enchanted Forest – the fairytale themed buildings are great for kids. It’s also home to BC’s tallest treehouse.
I advise spending the night in Revelstoke to break up your journey from Whistler to Banff nicely. I loved the Mount Revelstoke Alpine Chalets!
5. Glacier National Park of Canada
Glacier Park is an adventure-junkies heaven. Climb up mountain peaks, camp next to a glacier-fed river, go hiking amongst the stunning scenery and take a mountain bike ride on one of the trails. One of my favorite hikes in the park is the 7.2 km trail that takes you along the abandoned railway tracks of Canada’s first trans-continental railway. You can even explore what’s left behind of the Glacier House hotel – Western Canada’s first luxury mountain resort. A series of avalanches starting in the year 1910 caused the railway line which passed the hotel to be moved, thus taking away their tourist traffic and so it eventually closed and was left to go to ruin!
Did you know – the Glacier National Park is home to the world’s only inland cedar rainforest.
6. Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake is located in Yoho National Park and it’s one of the most popular and photographed in the area. It’s the largest lake in the park and is surrounded by the President mountain range.
Located just a few kilometres off of the TransCanada highway. Emerald Lake gets its name because it looks emerald green on a sunny day it gets its unique color from the glacial waters which refract light.
The hike around the lake, clocking in at about an hour, is a great way to see the lake as well as the world-famous Burgess Shale fossil beds, the Michael glacier, and an avalanche slope carpeted by meadows where moose often graze. Other than moose you are likely to see bald eagles, ospreys and waterfowl around the lakes edge.
Canoe and rowboat rentals are available to rent here, as are cross-country skis and snowshoes in the winter. Fishing at Emerald Lake is also quite popular during the summer months.
7. Lake Louise
Lake Louise is world famous for its gatorade-blue waters and it attracts millions of visitors every year. The Victoria Glacier, the luxurious Fairmont Lake Louise hotel, and the incredible hiking trail and skiing on offer all add to its appeal.
Rent a canoe from the boat dock and see the lake from a different perspective. Worth noting is that Lake Louise is frozen over half the year, so, ice skating is a popular activity during the winter. You can also enjoy sleigh rides, ice climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing during these colder months.
Pop into Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for lunch or spend the night here if you want to feel really fancy.
In Lake Louise you can book onto a full-day hiking tour through the Canadian Rockies taking in sights such as Victoria Glacier, hanging valleys and of course some epic viewpoints of Lake Louise itself.
8. Bow Lake
Bow Lake is approximately 30 minutes north of Lake Louise, off the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) The lake sits at an elevation of 1920 meters and spends most of the year locked away in ice. This makes it a popular spot for winter activities like snowshoeing and ski touring. While during the Summer many tourists rent a canoe and take it out on the lake.
The Bow Lakeshore is a great family-friendly hike. If you’re looking to stretch your legs and enjoy the sublime nature along the shoreline, it’s the perfect stop and one of the easiest hikes in Banff. The trail is a nice mellow grade and gains no elevation. It does move over some large sections of roots, so a stroller would not work on the lakeshore trail.
9. Peyto Lake
**Importand info – Peyto Lake will not be open to tourists until August 2021.
Peyto Lake is famous for its turquoise blue glacier-fed waters. The brilliant display of blue is fed by the Peyto Glacier high above the lake and part of the Wapta Icefield.
It is located 50 km north of Lake Louise and a popular stop on the drive from Whistler to Banff.
The viewpoint is one of the most spectacular in all of Banff National Park and a super popular spot for photographers. In my opinion, its as pretty as nearby Moraine Lake but without the crowds. The trail to the viewpoint starts at the far end of the car park. The hike up to Peyto Lake Lookout is short and sweet and takes around 10-15 minutes uphill.
10. Columbia Icefields
The Columbia Icefields is one of the most unique stops on the drive from Banff to Jasper and it’s the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. You can join a walking tour that takes you right onto the Athabasca glacier! We choose to just visit the Icefield Skywalk as we were short on time. It’s a glass-floored lookout, which was a little scary but it’s well-worth it as along the way you learn about the story of the Icefields. You will also be treated to an epic view of the Sunwapta Valley.
If you’re hungry you can grab a bite to eat here – there’s a casual restaurants and a fancier option. Just time it right as they can both get very busy with tour groups.
IMPORTANT INFO – to drive through the Icefields Parkway you need to purchase a daily pass which costs $10 per adult or $20 for a family of up to 7 people travelling in one vehicle. These daily passes expire at 4 pm the next day. To purchase your pass there are pass kiosks located at each end of the Icefields Parkway near Lake Louise and Jasper. They can also be purchased online at Banff/Lake Louise Tourism.
11. Sunwapta Falls
Fed by the Athabasca Glacier, the Sunwapta Falls is a stunning place to stop. The falls are 18 meters tall. This site is good for a quick stop – the upper falls can be viewed from the car park if you’re short on time. You can go white-water rafting (imagine!) and there are many awesome hiking trails two of the most popular being the hikes to the Lower and Upper Falls.
12. Athabasca Falls
This waterfall stemming from the Athabasca River is 23-meters tall. There are a number of lookout points where you can see the power of the falls. The falls itself are not very high compared to others in the Canadian Rockies, but the size of the river makes these falls one of the most powerful in the country!
Jasper is one of my favorite towns in Canada, when I visited I could really imagine myself living there. Not only is it incredibly scenic, it’s the right mix of small town charm with lots of activities and great restaurants. Some of my favorite restaurants/Cafes in Jasper include Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria; Sunhouse Cafe and Evil Dave’s Grill.
Jasper National Park requires a pass to enter, it costs $10 per adult and can be purchased from Parks Canada.
Jasper is home to the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve in the world. The annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival is held in October every year, it draws thousands of visitors and has had guests speakers from NASA as well as Hollywood celebrities in the past. Jasper has over 1200 kms of hiking trails and some of the best in the area include Pyramid Lake and Maligne Canyon.
Another great thing to do in Jasper is to hop on the Jasper SkyTram – Canada’s highest and longest, guided aerial tramway up to the top of the 2263 meter summit. Grab some food at the restaurant at the top and views of Mount Robson (in the next state B.C). If you’re visiting Jasper in the Summer and you’re feeling adventurous then you must book onto the two hour white water rafting tour on the Athabasca River. This is grade 2 rafting so expect to get wet!
Where to stay in Jasper
- Fairmont Jasper Park is a collection of luxurious log cabins located on the emerald-green Lac Beauvert. This is the ultimate bucket-list-worthy hotel in Jasper!
- Chateau Jasper is a cozy hotel surrounded by the mountains of Jasper National Park and a 10 minute walk from the center of town.
- Jasper Inn and Suites just off Highway is a cozy inn-style property with a pool and a sauna.
- Bear Hill Lodge relaxed cabin-style accommodation (with fireplaces) surrounded by woodland.
Thanks for reading my blog, Aimee x
It’s easy to see why a road trip from Whistler to Jasper is one of the best and most popular things to do in Canada. I mean, not only are there lots of amazing activities to enjoy but there are scenic mountain views, gatorade-blue lakes and the chance to spot unique wildlife.
Thanks so much for reading. I hope this guide has helped you plan the perfect road trip between Banff and Jasper! If you found this blog helpful, be sure to browse around some more! I have guides on Canadian road trip tips, luxury vacation to Whistler as well as doing a ski season in Whistler and so much more!!
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