I love the feeling of freedom you get on a road trip – The open road, a good road trip playlist, you can’t beat it. And experiencing all this on my drive from Calgary to Edmonton was exceptional.

I’ll always try to travel overland on big trips, often travelling in to one airport and out of another, driving the gap in between, sometimes crossing borders, sometimes provinces or states.

In this case, I just didn’t stray outside of the province of Alberta, I drove from Edmonton to Calgary, for skiing, ice climbing, fat bike riding, hiking and general exploring, all around the province.

In this guide, I’ll take you with me on this Edmonton road trip, discussing all the details you need to know, the itinerary I did, and much more.

Drive from Calgary to Edmonton – Itinerary

You can do this road trip both ways, Edmonton to Calgary or Calgary to Edmonton. Either way, if you can, spend a few days to explore the cities as well as the countryside.

This is the itinerary I personally took:

  • Calgary
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Banff
  • Lake Louise
  • Lake Abraham
  • Icefield Parkway and Waterfalls
  • Jasper
  • Edmonton

This trip is focused on winter, the list of things to do would be totally different in summer or spring. So for summer inspiration take a look at 10 things you must do in Alberta and The Alberta National Park Showdown.

Drive from Calgary to Edmonton

Now that you know my itinerary, let’s focus on each stop of the itinerary, from Calgary all the way to Edmonton, passing by Johnston Canyon, Banff, and many more spots!

I’ll also go through the accommodation options on the way for all budgets, so you know the best places to sleep.


Starting the trip in the heart of Alberta, Calgary isn’t just a starting point; it’s a vibrant city bursting with life, promising adventure and unforgettable memories even before you hit the road to Edmonton.

For some reason, I’ve never spent much time in Calgary, as I love Banff just a little too much!

But there is plenty to offer, including a luge (in summer), an ice-skating oval, a zoo and a number of museums including the Canadian sports Hall of Fame!

I recommend spending at least one day here, to make the most of your time and enjoy a few attractions.

Pay a visit to the Calgary Tower, offering panoramic views of the city and beyond, and stepping onto the glass floor observation deck if you’re feeling brave.

For those who crave a touch of culture, Calgary doesn’t disappoint. The Glenbow Museum is a treasure trove of art, history, and pop culture, with exhibits that are as diverse as they are fascinating.

And of course, don’t forget to try the famous Poutine, an amazing dish that will fill you up for a while, especially in the winter!

Where to Stay in Calgary

Before making your way to the first stop on this road trip, here are some great accommodation options in Calgary to make the most of your time in town.

Luxury: Hyatt Regency Calgary

Hyatt Regency Calgary stands out with the largest guestrooms in Calgary, complemented by an indoor pool, spa center, and central location.

It offers on-site dining at Thomsons Kitchen + Bar and Baker’s Coffee Shop, both with dine-in and takeaway options.

Rooms feature Smart TVs with Chromecast, seating areas, work desks, Keurig coffee machines, and free toiletries. Additional amenities include free WiFi, a fitness center, and 24-hour front desk service.

Mid-Range: Homewood Suites by Hilton

Homewood Suites by Hilton Calgary Downtown is conveniently located near Stampede Park and Scotiabank Saddledome, offering studio to suite accommodations with kitchenettes. The property features a fitness center, business center, free WiFi, and complimentary breakfast.

Rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, work desks, seating areas, and free toiletries.

You also benefit from a 24-hour front desk and on-site private parking, enhancing convenience and comfort during their stay.

Budget: Econo Lodge Inn & Suites University

Econo Lodge Inn & Suites University is located 1.2 miles from the University of Calgary, offering an indoor pool, free WiFi, and continental breakfast.

The rooms include microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, and cable TV. The hotel provides a hot tub, gym, copy services, and laundry facilities. Breakfast features a variety of breads, cereals, pancakes, and beverages. This hotel combines convenience and comfort, and you’ll love staying here on a budget.

Johnston Canyon

All year round, the Johnston Canyon is beautiful, but in winter it looked (in my opinion) even more spectacular! I was lucky enough to get fresh, fluffy snowfall during the entirety of the walk.

However, most important part first, in winter please PLEASE hire ice cleats or go on a guided walk which will have them included.

I could not believe how many people didn’t have them, not only was this dangerous but it was far quicker with them (how smug did I feel marching passed people slipping and sliding on their butts?!).

The walk is split into two sections, the lower fall and the upper falls, with a viewpoint on route. The lower is by far the more impressive of the two, but the walk to the upper falls is beautiful.

Words don’t do this place justice so take a look at my video from Instagram, taken on my phone for an edited Instagram Story.

I recommend spending the night in Banff, our next stop, given that it’s only about 30 minutes’ drive away and you have more properties to choose from.


There’s a common misconception that Banff is too touristy! Now don’t get me wrong, it has a lot of visitors, and your typical tourist shops.

But this is such a beautiful small town in the mountains! It’s still very small, at the weekends it’s busy, standard, so what? Most of the tourists are Canadian, many visiting from nearby Calgary.

That’s still pretty authentic to me. I really want people to realise that this is a great place to visit, and the surrounding area has SO MUCH to explore. However, most of us do just pass through, that’s the nature of travelling or holidays.

Therefore getting something like the Alive Pass will save you money and give you some ideas. It includes park entries, rentals and a few of my tops recommendations such as the Banff Upper Hot Springs, the Banff Gondola and Cave & Basin National Historical Site.

Finally one of the best things about Banff, there a 3 ski resorts (know as the Big 3) all within an easy drive, I’ve reviewed them here Skiing and Snowboarding in Alberta.

Where to Stay in Banff

Here below, you’ll find the best properties to sleep in Banff for one night or more. It’s worth noting that hotels in Banff sell out quickly, and I recommend booking now.

Luxury: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Buffalo Mountain Lodge is a short walk out of town (but with an amazing log fire in the room, and shared hot tub!).

It also features rooms with wood fireplaces and private bathrooms, along with amenities such as cable TV, coffee makers, and ironing facilities.

You can enjoy a workout in the gym, relax in the lounge by the fireplace, or utilize the on-site meeting rooms. How convenient!

Mid-Range: Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets

Douglas Fir Resort and Chalets, set amidst the scenic beauty of Tunnel Mountain and close to Banff town centre, is a family-friendly resort offering home-like comforts in a memorable setting.

The resort boasts two indoor waterslides, a children’s pool, an indoor play area, saunas, and a modern fitness centre.

Located just moments from leisure activities like skiing and hiking, and near the town centre’s shops, galleries, and restaurants, the resort promises a fun stay!

Budget: HI Banff Alpine Centre

HI-Banff Alpine Center, offering views of the Rocky Mountains, features a café, bar, free WiFi, and self-catering kitchens. Located 4 minutes’ drive from Banff town center, it provides both private and dorm-style rooms, some with private bathrooms.

The on-site Cougar Pete’s restaurant serves a varied menu, while The Storm Cellar bar offers free darts, billiards, and foosball.

You receive a free bus pass for local transport and can avail of discounted ski packages, bike rental vouchers, and rafting tickets, making it an ideal choice for adventure enthusiasts.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is beautiful, it can be a little touristy yes, but still worth the visit. The lake itself has a totally different look in every season, and in the winter is often completely frozen over.

Check if it’s safe to walk on as whilst I was there a woman fell in, guess what she was doing? Taking a selfie!

I didn’t have much time to explore anything other than the Lake Louise Ski resort, but look for some of the snowshoeing hikes in the area on a clear day.

I stayed at the Mountaineer Lodge, which was good but family orientated and a little quiet. So it might be worth considering staying in Banff or at the Lake Louise Fairmont.

Abraham Lake

I first found out about Lake Abraham when I saw some stunning photos of frozen methane bubbles, which attracted me to visit, I wanted that epic shot for myself.

Unfortunately, you need very low temperatures for this to happen, and that wasn’t the case on my visit.

Nonetheless, it’s still a beautiful spot, just outside of Banff National Park. It’s around a 40 minute detour off of the main route, but just the drive there is enough to make it worthwhile.

Lake Abraham is actually a manmade lake, and the bubbles are formed from frozen methane.

Where to Stay Near Abraham Lake

After leaving Banff and exploring Lakes Louise, I recommend spending the night near Abraham Lake to be ready for the following stops on the drive from Calgary to Edmonton.

Luxury: Glacier View Lodge

Glacier View Lodge is situated along the Icefield Parkway, an hour’s drive from Jasper, Alberta, offering stunning views of Athabasca Glacier and the Canadian Rockies.

Each room features a comfortable living area with satellite TV, sofa bed, mountain or glacier views, a telephone, and a clock radio.

As part of the Columbia Icefield Center, you have access to a gift and photo shop, dining options including an all-day dining room and a cafeteria serving salads and hamburgers.

Mid-Range: David Thompson Resort

David Thompson Resort, near Saskatchewan River Crossing, provides accommodation with amenities including an ATM, a restaurant, and the option for private parking at an extra charge.

Rooms are equipped with a desk, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and a wardrobe.

You can enjoy a choice of à la carte or American breakfast, ensuring a comfortable stay in a scenic location with convenient dining options.

Budget: HI Rampart Creek – Hostel

HI Rampart Creek Hostel, located 56 miles north of Lake Louise in a wilderness setting, offers a rustic experience with no electricity, emphasizing a back-to-basics approach.

The hostel features dormitory rooms with wooden furnishings and natural daylight, shared bathroom facilities, and linen. You can use snowshoes, relax in the shared lounge or by the outdoor fire pit, and explore ice climbing opportunities.

This wilderness hostel, a 2-hour drive from Jasper and 91 miles from Banff, focuses on experiencing the Rockies authentically, without showers or flush toilets.

Icefield Parkway and Waterfalls

The waterfalls fall between Jasper and the Icefield Parkway and are amazing for a stop. Please note, in extreme conditions they may be closed.

You come across Athabasca Falls first, around 20 miles from Jasper, it’s not known for it’s height, but its view and backdrop, especially on a clear day.

Next is the Sunwapta Falls, officially now in the Icefields Parkway. Here you’ll find a pair of falls, and some of the iconic shots you will have already seen in Jasper National Park. Please just be very careful on your feet in winter, a pair of Ice Cleats is a very good investment.

The final fall on route is the Tangle Creek Falls, where I went Ice-Climbing with Rockaboo Mountain Adventures. At Tangle Creek Falls you can Ice-Climb on an actual waterfall, climbing the frozen ice right beside a fresh mountain waterfall!

I must admit I wasn’t expecting such a spectacular setting for this, and man is it tough!

Reaching the top was amazing, and you can see more of this experience in the video below (skip to 1:18 for only the Ice Climbing).

I recommend continuing the road trip, sleeping in Jasper, and spending the day in town the day after.


What can I say about Jasper? I just love it here. It was the winner of The Alberta National Park Showdown, and each time I go back I discover something new.

The drive from Edmonton is around 4 hours, and it’s the last hour or so where the views get spectacular, so allow some time to stop for photos.

One thing I love about Jasper, there’s plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife, even in the winter. Staying in Jasper gives you a chance to feel like a real local, as there’s definitely far less of a touristy feel to it than other towns in Alberta.

During winter this is a popular base for skiing at the Marmot Basin, and I couldn’t recommend it enough if you’re into it.

Just outside of Jasper (around 7 miles), I’d also recommend a tour of the Maligne Canyon and Lake. It’s transformed in winter, and there are spectacular views along the river bed and gorge.

Where to eat? Dinner and craft beer at Jasper Brewing, Breakfast or lunch at Coco’s Café, or try the new Jasper Food Tours which will take you on a whirlwind of Jasper’s most delicious spots.

Where to Stay in Jasper

Here below, you’ll find the best properties to sleep in Jasper for one night or more. Just like Banff, properties in Jasper sell out quickly, and I recommend securing your room now.

Luxury: Jasper East Cabins

Jasper East Cabins offers a serene mountain experience just a 14-minute walk from the Athabasca River, featuring chalets with kitchenettes, free WiFi, fireplaces, and seating areas.

Each chalet has a patio terrace with views of the gardens and mountains, along with a private bathroom equipped with a shower and free toiletries.

Jasper and Hinton town centers are within a short driving distance, as is William A. Switzer Provincial Park, which is awesome.

Mid-Range: The Crimson Jasper

The Crimson Jasper, located a 10-minute walk from Jasper Railway Station, offers spacious guest rooms with free WiFi, flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffee machines, microwaves, refrigerators, and private bathrooms.

This hotel is conveniently situated a 5-minute walk from downtown Jasper, close to the Jasper Park Information Center and local restaurants, making it an ideal base for exploring the town.

Budget: Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge

Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge provides a rustic escape with rooms featuring fridges, satellite TV, seating areas, and tea and coffee making facilities.

The on-site restaurant and bar serve regionally inspired cuisine, and the resort’s tour desk can arrange whitewater rafting and other adventures.

The lodge is close to the Glacier Sky Walk at Columbia Icefields, offering a comfortable and adventurous stay in the Rockies.


We finally get to the last stop on this drive from Calgary to Edmonton. The capital of Alberta is a city that embraces winter and has plenty to do when temperatures fall below freezing.

One of the first places you should explore is the expansive North Saskatchewan River Valley, a network of parks and trails that offers a natural playground for biking, walking, or simply basking in the beauty of nature.

Also, I went Fat Tire Mountain Biking with River Valley Adventure Company, who also run winter Segway tours. Did you know Edmonton has an Iceway at Victoria Park that offers one of the first ‘skate to work’ schemes?

Then to top it off, there’s the West Edmonton Mall, which hosts a water park, theme park and ice rink all in one place.

If you have more time in town and are interested in history and science, the Royal Alberta Museum is a must-visit.

This modern museum offers a deep dive into Alberta’s natural history and indigenous cultures, with engaging exhibits that are both educational and fascinating.

Shopping enthusiasts will find their paradise on Whyte Avenue, located in the heart of Edmonton’s Old Strathcona district. This bustling street is lined with independent boutiques, antique shops, and cozy cafes.

All in all, you definitely won’t get bored in Edmonton and I recommend staying for a few days if your schedule allows!

Where to eat: The food (and craft beer) at Situation Brewing was incredible! You can also find 3 of the top 10 new restaurants in Canada in Edmonton, take a look.

Where to Stay in Jasper

Here below, you’ll find the best properties to sleep in Jasper for one night or more. Just like Banff, hotels in Jasper sell out quickly, and I recommend securing your room now.

Luxury: Metterra Hotel on Whyte

Metterra Hotel on Whyte in Edmonton presents a contemporary style with uniquely themed rooms (fire, earth, air, water) featuring fireplaces and spa baths.

Located just a 5-minute drive from the University of Alberta, it offers amenities such as a refrigerator, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, access to a 24-hour business center and gym, laundry facilities, and parking.

All in all, everything you need after a drive from Calgary to Edmonton.

Mid-Range: Days Inn by Wyndham Edmonton

Days Inn by Wyndham Edmonton Downtown is set in the heart of Edmonton’s ice district, a block from the Corona Light Rail Station and three blocks from Rogers Place.

It features rooms with free WiFi, flat-screen TVs with cable, seating areas, desks, coffee makers, and hairdryers. The hotel provides a business center, meeting facilities, and a 24-hour front desk for your convenience.

Budget: Argyll Plaza Hotel

Argyll Plaza Hotel, adjacent to the Argyll Plaza Arena and Union Hall concert venue, offers free WiFi and on-site parking, with Edmonton city center just a 10-minute drive away.

The hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with cable TV, microwaves, and coffee makers. Amenities like a fitness center, laundry facilities, and room service make your stay as comfy as it gets.

Getting Here

KLM UK flies to Alberta, to Edmonton or Calgary using Amsterdam as a hub. You can fly into one and out of the other, travelling over land via Jasper and Banff at your leisure. Going via Amsterdam allows you to fly from 17 UK based airports, rather than only travelling from Manchester or London. The changeover is smooth, KLM will inform you which gate (sometimes from the plane), and you won’t need to collect and check in your luggage again.

And then it comes to the seat… Business, Economy or Economy Comfort? Not everyone can afford business, so I’d suggest looking into Economy Comfort for the extra leg room, which makes a big difference on any flight over 3 hours. 

Find out more about this route & other options with KLM

I flew to Alberta in partnership with KLM UK and Travel Alberta. My flights to Edmonton were complementary, but return flights from the UK start at £460, including taxes. All of the content, opinions and photography are my own. Please take time to visit KLM UK and Travel Alberta‘s websites to support me on more adventures like this one!


And there you have it, around 550 miles later (885km), and you’ve driven one of the greatest road trips in the world.

The next Canadian road trip challenge, on to Vancouver! (Watch this space). I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips, of course I haven’t covered everything, so please let me know in the comments below if you have anything else to suggest on this amazing Alberta road trip.

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2 thoughts on “Taking the Drive from Calgary to Edmonton: Canada Road Trip

  1. Nicole says:

    When in the winter season did you go? I am planning to go in February for hockey games and need to drive from Calgary to Edmonton but I’m not sure if it’s safe or reasonable to do so in the middle of the winter.

  2. Pingback: Jasper vs Banff: The Alberta National Park Showdown!

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