Jasper National Park, Alberta

Icefields Parkway Running Highlights

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The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the most spectacular drives in the world. This double-lane highway stretches for 233 km between Lake Louise and Jasper, past snow-capped peaks and icefields, through vast valleys and along rivers. The Icefields Parkway is runnable, since there’s a good shoulder along both sides. But it is a highway, with a steady stream of fast-moving vehicles. This “Summer Visitor Guide” has great map describing the Parkway’s highlights (pp. 16-19), with distances and elevation profiles. Note: Can be closed for stretches of time in winter.

Practically any section of the Parkway is gorgeous for running. Here are some of the most scenic sections for running (using km markers, south from Jasper, north from Lake Louise):

Between Athabaska Falls (30/203) and Sunwapta Falls (56/177). This is a 25 km stretch of road. Particularly nice in the valley along the Athabaska River, in Kerkeslin, for ~6-7 flat km. Nice mountain views in the Sunwapta Falls area.

Between Icefield Center (103/130) and Big Hill/Big Bend (118/115). This 15 km stretch is among the most spectacular stretches for running. Gorgeous section of road, with walls of mountains offering great valley views. HILLY! Descending heading north, and ascending heading south. Great views of the Columbia Icefield from the road, and a 1 km road from the Parkway heading up toward the glacier. Near the Parker Ridge Trailhead, there’s a side road that goes for 4 km that gets you away from traffic.

Saskatchewan River Crossing (154/79). Area around intersection of Highway 11, nice river and mountain views.

Between Bow Summit/Peyto Lake (190/43) and Bow Lake (194/39). One of the areas with the prettiest views. At Bow Summit, a side road (quieter for running!) leads toward Peyto Lake, with great mountain views. It’s downhill, heading south to Bow Lake, for ~5 km. At Bow Lake, a very pretty section of road along the lake for 2-3 km, with views to Crowfoot Glacier and the Cirque mountain. Includes a gravel side path along the lake for a bit, and the ~1 km Field Rd off the Parkway.