Epic Experiences Along Alberta’s Icefields Parkway

The stunningly scenic Icefields Parkway in Alberta is one of the world’s most iconic road trips, serving up active adventures alongside jaw-dropping natural wonders like ancient glaciers, gem-toned lakes, and a front row seat to the splendour of the Rocky Mountains.

Nissan Main Img 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

The 232 kilometre-long highway links Banff National Park with the town of Jasper, winding past sweeping valleys and through steep alpine passes where waterfalls gush out of cliff sides. While the Highway 93 drive only takes about four hours, I suggest spending at least a few days to enjoy stays at places like Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefields en route to Jasper National Park.

Nissan Img2 1000x750[41]Photo: Tamara Elliott

My sister and I hit the highway in the 2022 Nissan Rogue, which is adventure-ready thanks to family-friendly features like convenient wireless charging, premium Bose speakers and the motion-activated liftgate which made loading suitcases and my French Bulldog puppy Ollie into the back a cinch.

Nissan Img3 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

The Rogue offers a premium drive without a premium price, along with quality safety features like Blind Spot Warning and Lane Departure Warning which are essential when driving on twisty mountain roads. I know all about the reliability of the Nissan Rogue firsthand—in fact, I happen to drive a 2008 model and she’s still going strong all these years later!

Nissan Img4 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

While I still do cross-country trips in my own Rogue, it was a treat to hit the road in the sleeker ’22 version which also has tech upgrades that make driving easier. One of my favourites is ProPILOT Assist, which intuitively helps keep the Rogue centered in its lane for a more hands-off experience and is especially helpful while driving long distances. The Heads-Up Display is another winner: it beamed information like speed and which song was about to play onto the windshield in my sight line, so I never had to take my eyes off the road, though the incredible scenery along the Icefields Parkway sure made it tempting to!

Here are some of our favourite stops along the Icefields Parkway.

Nissan Img5 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

1. Lake Louise

Lake Louise is the gateway to adventure, and part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks which are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sight of the emerald green lake framed by towering peaks and the majestic Victoria Glacier is spellbinding, and the effort of hiking up the Little Beehive or Big Beehive trails is rewarded with incredible views looking down on the water and back at the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise which dates back to the 1800s and looks just like a castle.

Nissan Img6 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

If you’re short on time, stick to the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail which winds along the northwest side of the lake and ends at a pretty waterfall, or head to nearby Moraine Lake which is such a quintessentially-Canadian spot that it was once featured on the $20 bill. Even on a rainy day like we experienced the landscape is absolutely gorgeous—and made us appreciate the Tri-Zone Climate Control and seat warmers that got us nice and toasty once we hopped back into the Rogue.

Nissan Img7 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

2. The Columbia Icefields

En route to the Columbia Icefields which marks the halfway point of this drive, we pulled off for quick stops at Bow Lake which has mesmerizing reflections, and to do the 15-minute walk up the Bow Summit to the panoramic Peyto Lake Viewpoint. During the summer months, glacier “rock flour” flows into the water which is what gives it its incredible blue hue.

While we were already a few hours into the drive, we didn’t feel fatigued at all thanks to the scenic pit stops and the Rogue’s NASA-inspired Zero Gravity Seats which are ultra-comfortable, especially during long trips.

Nissan Img8 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

The Columbia Icefields are the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies, straddling the Continental Divide and featuring an ever-changing landscape as glaciers retreat. The Athabasca Glacier is at the heart of this geological wonder, and a fun way to explore it is by booking the Columbia Icefield Adventure where we got to climb into a giant, all-terrain vehicle called the Ice Explorer which crawls along the 10,000 year old sheet of ice.

Nissan Img9 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

On the way up we saw cornices, valleys and even a few sure-footed mountain goats clinging to the slippery surface, then hopped out for a brisk walk on the glacier. Be sure to bring along a water bottle to dip into the turquoise pools and drink the chilled, invigorating water.

While driving through this pass, it’s important to have a dependable vehicle since there’s no cell service and a number of ‘no stopping’ zones due to rockslides. Thanks to the Rogue’s best in class gas-engine available fuel economy, we didn’t have to worry about the fact that there’s also only one gas station on the highway between Lake Louise and Jasper.

Knowing first-hand how well my 2008 Rogue has performed all these years, we could trust the reliability of the 2022 Model Year and appreciated upgrades like an All-New VC-Turbo Engine for navigating up steep hills. Its Intelligent All Wheel Drive with Terrain Selector helped with the constantly changing conditions, and I alternated between the Sport, Auto and Eco modes as we made our way through the Rockies.

Nissan Img10 1000x750 (2)Photo: Tamara Elliott

3. Glacier Skywalk

One of the most thrilling experiences along the Icefields Parkway is just down the road at the Glacier Skywalk. Jutting out 280 meters and suspended above the Sunwapta Valley, its heart-stopping glass bottom walkway and dramatic views make for quite an adrenaline rush. The panoramic vistas reminded us of the Rogue’s expansive moonroof, which allowed us to take in the beauty of the national parks even while driving.

Nissan Img11 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

After visiting the one-kilometer-long interpretive walkway, we headed over to the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre to learn more about the area. It’s well-worth staying overnight at the Glacier View Lodge on the top floor, which features a stunning lobby with floor to ceiling windows and dreamy views of the Athabasca Glacier. There’s complimentary charcuterie and cocktails during happy hour each night, making it the perfect place to curl up with a good book in front of the cozy fireplace or simply enjoy the scenery.

Nissan Img12 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

4. Waterfalls

A trio of impressive falls line the final stretch to Jasper: Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls and Tangle Creek Falls. Multi-tiered Tangle Creek Falls is just a couple minutes’ drive past the Skywalk on the right-hand side, while Sunwapta is 30 minutes away and accessed by a one-minute walk from the parking lot that leads to a suspended bridge with great views of the powerful falls and deep surrounding canyons.

Nissan Img13 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

Over at Athabasca Falls, we admired the 23-metre-high waterfall which thunders through a narrow limestone gorge. A winding paved loop links various lookout points that peer out to the serene Athabasca River, the Lower Canyon where rivers carved canyons into the bedrock, ancient potholes, and the mouth of the Athabasca Falls canyon.

Nissan Img14 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

5. Jasper

Our Icefields Parkway drive ended in the laid-back mountain town of Jasper, where a herd of elk grazing along the highway served as the unofficial welcoming committee. My sister’s camera was at the ready thanks to the Rogue’s Butterfly Centre Console which amps up the storage space where you need it, and along with room for our coffees and phones there’s also a compartment underneath where we could stash snacks and purses for quick and easy access.

Popular spots in Jasper include shimmering Patricia Lake which has gorgeous reflections, and Pyramid Island which is designated as a Dark Sky Preserve. It got its name from Pyramid Mountain which looms in the distance and contains iron pyrite minerals (Fool’s Gold) in the rock which give it soft pink and orange hues. Despite visiting Jasper a handful of times before, I still found myself taking advantage of the Rogue’s infotainment system which is equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to help us navigate to all the lakes surrounding the townsite.

Nissan Img15 1000x750Photo: Tamara Elliott

One of the best attractions in Jasper is the Jasper SkyTram, the so-called ‘alpine express’ that whisked us up to the 2,263-meter-high summit of Whistlers Mountain during a seven-minute-long cable car ride. From there, guests can enjoy views of alpine lakes, the town and surrounding mountain ranges from the observation deck or hike up the 1.4 km-long Whistlers Summit Trail.

The incredible birds-eye view of Jasper National Park spread out below was a fitting end to our Icefields Parkway adventure, the perfect finale to one of Canada’s top road trips in the 2022 Nissan Rogue.

Popular Videos