//Cycling across Canada: From Banff to Jasper

Cycling across Canada: From Banff to Jasper

Canada has some of the best cycling routes in the world. All you need to travel to Canada is an eTA.

Canada’s beautiful and varied roads attract countless cyclists from all over the world in search of fantastic cycling adventures. Discover the distinctive landscapes of British Columbia and Alberta, or cycle along one of the world’s most beautiful mountain roads: the Icefields Parkway.

Cycling through Canada’s westernmost provinces offers cyclists the unique opportunity to enjoy some of Canada’s most spectacular mountain views, pristine national parks filled with panoramic vistas, historic villages, turquoise lakes and to unwind in natural hot springs at the end of the day. Cycling from Jasper to Banff is an experience that sits high on many people’s travel wish lists. For the experienced and fit cyclist, the route offers challenging hills and fantastic descents. The trip is usually done in four to five days and passes through highways, the Trans-Canada Highway between Banff and Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise all the way to Jasper.

Cycling from Banff to Jasper – a great cycling tour in Canada

The 290 km long cycling tour between Banff and Jasper is one of the most impressive bike routes in the world. The route runs parallel to the Continental Divide, a vast mountainous area between British Columbia and Alberta. This means that you travel against the backdrop of the impressive Canadian Rockies. This colossal mountain range forms the Canadian portion of the North American Rocky Mountains and is widely known for its steep cliffs, huge glaciers and clear lakes.

Between Banff and Jasper National Park lies the Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93. This iconic highway is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world and is included in National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime travel guide for a reason. The highway takes its name from the Columbia Icefield, the largest non-polar ice field on earth. It is also home to one of the most visited glaciers in North America: the Athabasca Glacier. In addition to majestic peaks and ancient glaciers, the Icefields Parkway is rich in brilliant blue lakes such as Peyto and Bow Lake, dense pine forests and gushing waterfalls, the most famous of which are Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls. The abundance of wildlife – such as bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats and even grizzly bears – is another reason why the Icefields Parkway is such an attractive destination for adventure cyclists each year.

The best time to travel to Canada for a cycling tour is July and August (and possibly September if the weather cooperates). Avoid cycling during the Banff to Jasper Relay Race in mid-June when hundreds of runners occupy the roads. Fickle weather is the norm in the mountains, so be prepared. The long descents can be very cold even in summer, and you may even find snow on the summits of some passes. So in addition to rain gear, always take a fleece jumper with you. The route can be started in either Banff orJasper. Most people cycle from Banff to Jasper, but as the wind blows from the north, it is easier to start your trip in Jasper. Around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, the roads can be quite busy, but elsewhere it is fairly quiet, especially on weekdays. Large trucks are prohibited on the Icefields Parkway, which makes it a lot safer and more pleasant to cycle.
There are 17 campsites between Banff and Jasper. Reserve in advance if possible and if not, arrive no later than 4pm, otherwise they are usually full. Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper also have various cheap hostels.

Apply for the eTA Canada before your bike tour

The first step to starting your bike tour is travelling to Canada, and to do that, you need a visa or an eTA Canada. You can apply for this travel permit through an easy to navigate online application form. Normally, the eTA is approved within three days and sent by email, but you can also submit an urgent application to have your application processed with priority. This generally results in an approved eTA within a day. The eTA is valid for five years and can be used for multiple trips. If you’re looking forward to exploring the rest of Canada by bike after your trip from Banff to Jasper, you can do so with a single eTA. It is not necessary to pass on the travel details of your second or third trip; as long as you carry the same passport which you used to apply for the eTA, the eTA remains valid.