Canada’s Icefields Parkway is one of the best road routes in the world – making it a must for every motorcycle rider too. Here’s how to ride the Icefields Parkway on a motorcycle and everything you need to know about biking there…
The Icefields Parkway Motorcycle Route Guide
The Icefields Parkway is an absolute must for every motorcycle rider touring Canada.
We’ve been lucky enough to ride it a few times. The first time was over ten years ago when we flew to Canada for a friend’s wedding. We got there two weeks early, rented a BMW R1200 GS and spent two weeks riding BC and Alberta – falling in love with the Icefields Parkway.
Fast forward to 2023, we’re five years into our round the world motorcycle trip and have just shipped our bikes to Vancouver and made a dash for the Parkway once again. And it’s just as beautiful as we remembered. And we know you’ll love it too, so we’ve pulled this quick guide together to help you ride there.
Why motorcycle the Icefields Parkway?
The Canadian Rockies are out of this world. Gargantuan mountains, jaw dropping glaciers, deep valleys, frothing rivers and waterfalls, pristine lakes, and rugged nature in all its glory. Now, carve a beautifully laid strip of tarmac through the middle of all of that and you’ve got the Icefields Parkway. It’s not just one of the best rides in Canada, it’s one of the best in the world.
It’s an easy ride on a motorcycle with minimal turns, but it’s stunning with plenty of awesome stops along the way. You do need to pay for a Parks Pass to ride this route, there will be a kiosk on the road that you will have to stop and buy your ticket at (it’s not expensive).
What is the Icefields Parkway route?
The Icefields Parkway is in Alberta, Canada. The road’s name is Highway 93, it connects Jasper and Banff National Parks and is roughly 230kms (144 miles).
The speed limit along the road ranges between 50 – 90kph and takes roughly three hours without any stops. But you should stop… lots.
Food and fuel
Despite being a very popular route, it’s not filled with burger vans and cafes, which is a massive plus. You’ll find food, petrol and accommodation at Jasper, Saskatchewan River Crossing and Lake Louise. So, if you plan on spending a lot of time along the route, take enough fuel, packed lunches and water to last the day.
When is the best time to go?
The best weather for motorcyclists on the Icefield Parkway is between June and September. You’re also more likely to see wildlife. The earlier in the morning you go, the less busy it is. And August is the busiest time of year, so expect more cars, more people stopping for wildlife and clogging up the sights and busier towns.
The Parkway is open all year round, but in winter it is freezing cold, icy and can close, so it’s not advisable on a motorcycle.
Where to stay?
The obvious choices are Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. But it will be busy and expensive. Canmore is a nice alternative and a pretty town.
If you want to stay along the route, there are basic wilderness hostels and campgrounds. But these can get booked up very fast. We’d recommend using WikiCamps to help find campsites (and make sure you turn up early to your site) and booking.com for hotels and reserving spaces in advance. Here’s a booking.com map so you can gauge where accommodation is and the type of prices. Also, have a look at the Motorcycle Travel Guide: Canada guide for more info on camping.
Must do sights along the way
You’re spoilt for choice along the route as there are so many beautiful and tranquil stops. Here’s a little list of our favourites. We recommend checking out this official Icefields Parkway page as it has a great map with the best sights on it.
- Columbia Icefield
- Lake Louise
- Peyto Lake
- Athabasca Falls
- Sunwapta Falls
- Panther Falls
- Victoria Glacier
- Herbert Lake
- Bow Lake
Wildlife along the Icefields Parkway
There is a lot of wildlife along this route, from bears to wolves, moose, elk, caribou and more. Being on a motorcycle makes you more susceptible to danger, so follow standard safety precautions. Don’t get off your bike and approach wild animals, keep a good distance of about 30 metres, never feed them and be extra vigilant at dawn and dusk.
How to motorcycle the Icefields Parkway
First, let’s assume you’re not from Canada and don’t own your own bike there. You have a few options here. Fly your own bike to Canada, buy a motorcycle in Canada, rent or join an organised tour. Which you go for completely depends on how long you’re in Canada for and where you’re going before and after.
Rent or join an organised tour
If it’s a short trip and you’re just planning on riding the Icefields Parkway – and perhaps an extra week or two exploring BC, then renting is a great way to go. Same for joining a tour – if you’re strapped for time and want someone to take all the planning off your hands.
Ship or buy
Shipping a motorcycle to Canada is only worth it if you’re on an extended trip and will be riding for longer than a month. Shipping is easy enough to do in Canada though and bikes can be flown to Vancouver. If you’re on a round the world ride or thinking of heading down into the States or even beyond then this is a great option.
The same goes for buying a bike in Canada. If you don’t have a suitable bike or if you want to start your ride in Canada, you can easily buy a bike there – even as a foreigner.
- How to Ship a Motorcycle to Canada (coming soon)
- How to Buy a Motorcycle in Canada
Linking the Icefields Parkway ride into a bigger tour
The Icefields Parkway is an incredible ride in itself, but it can be easily linked into a bigger tour of the region including British Columbia and Alberta. There are some awesome rides to be had and we’ve put together a complete and downloadable map of our suggested route so you can get the most out of your time there. Check out the link below.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Canada Motorcycle Route
Read more on motorcycle travel in Canada
Thanks for checking out The Vancouver Island Motorcycle Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in Canada that we recommend you read next.
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Are you planning a motorcycle tour along the Icefields Parkway? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.