260.3 Miles (418.91 km)
- Distance: 260.3 Miles (418.91 km)
- Rating: 1-B, Not much for cornering but the road is in above average condition Ratings Explained »
- Travel: Either direction for best results
- Start: Radium Hot Springs, BC
- End: Jasper, AB
- Fuel: Available on both ends, but only one gas stop in the middle at the junction of AB-93 and AB-11
In the traditional sense, this is not your average canyon road, but the pure epic nature more than makes up for the missing cornering opportunities. Leaving Radium Hot Springs the road begins by climbing a narrow steep canyon. Lorry's and big-rigs also use this route so be on guard. Almost immediately, you will likely start to see wildlife, such as big-horn sheep, munching grass on the side of the road. A few miles of ascending and the road will turn towards the north offer the gift of one of the most scenic vistas we've ever encountered. You'll be looking up and incredible valley between a row to glacially carved mountains.
The road will descend gently and you'll be overwhelmed by the sheer size and magnificance of these peaks. When you reach the Trans-Canada-1, turn south to Head into Banff. The 1 is essentially a freeway so the speeds will pick up as you decend even farther to the foot of Mt. Rundle and the Swiss Alps inspired community of Banff.
As you begin your way north again, exit off of the freeway onto the 1A, Bow Valley Parkway. This is a much smaller, narrower and quieter route that keeps you off the frenetic freeway. Stay sharp for wildlife, most folks stick to the bigger routes so animals are more likely to wander onto the road. Stay on the Bow Valley Parkway until it terminates at Lake Louise. From here the freeway will head off into the west and you be back onto AB-93.
More indescribably beautiful scenery awaits you as you continue north. Be sure to stop at Bow Lake and take the whole experience in, this is not a route to rush through.
About midway through there is a massive visitor center that offers rides up onto an actual glacier. We've not had the best experiences here because of the masses amount of people, so we typically continue right on past it, waiting for the much more appealing community of Jasper. However, at this point the scenery and the road becomes less amazing, and less crowded as many tourists will have turned back by now. The farther north you travel the more wildlife you are likely to see. Its not uncommon to see black bear, brown bear, caribou and mountain goats right off the side of the road seemingly unaware of the road.
Once you arrive in Jasper, take some time and walk the streets. Its a charming little town with plenty of curio and t-shirt shops to keep you entertained.