[This is Part 2 of 2 road tripping Canada from Victoria to Jasper. Part 1 here.]
Continuing East from Victoria BC along Canada's Highway 1, past Revelstoke, Glacier, and Yoho National Parks, you cross the border to Alberta. The sights in Banff National Park and Lake Louise are the most well-known, but the 230km drive North to Jasper National Park along the Icefields Parkway are well worth the time.
Banff National Park
Banff is just a couple hours West of Calgary, on the BC-AB border. It's most recognized by photos of the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise nestled at the foot of opaque, glacier-fed turquoise lakes and towering alpine mountains. Its mountains range up to 3,600m tall and 120 million years old, and are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Banff is a subarctic climate, with long, cold winters and short summers. There's over a thousand glaciers, though most are in backcountry.
The popular tourist destinations and sights in Banff are very busy, even in off-season. Traveling after Labor Day in September, however, gives some reprieve, and temperatures are cool enough to enjoy a long hike without melting.
All photos are in cardinal order from South to North, if you are driving from Banff to Jasper.
Jasper National Park
Jasper is a continuation of the Canadian wilderness north of Banff. The towns of Banff and Jasper are 230km apart along the Icefields Parkway, named for the most famous Columbia Icefield, the largest glacier outside the Arctic.
Though the major accommodations are at either end in Banff and Jasper towns themselves, the Icefields Parkway drive is a gem. Driving straight through will take about 4 hours, but take a leisurely day to stop at the numerous points of interest. Print out an auto tour map beforehand (you lose cell coverage) and pay attention to roadside signs!