Summer Road Trip: Days 25 – 30. Is it possible that the scenery is getting more and more beautiful? Banff National Park is utterly enchanting with glistening emerald lakes, spectacular sweeping valleys, and dramatic mountainous landscapes. We had a rainy week, but made the most of it and took advantage of any good weather whenever we could.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Banff National Park.
1. Johnston Canyon
You can find Johnston Canyon on Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A), a scenic 27-mile drive between Lake Louise and Banff. The hike within the chasm is just as exciting as the waterfalls at the end.
The walkway is suspended in air and clings to the wall over rushing water of the canyon. The lush green vegetation and crystal clear water is a delight to march along.
Crouching through a cave at the lower section leads to the base of the powerful waterfall. The hike to the Lower Falls is about .7 miles with another mile to the Upper Falls.
Read more here on our Favorite Hikes in Banff National Park.
2. Serenity at Lake Louise
Victoria Glacier and Lake Louise is the most popular area in the park and it is obvious why. The milky turquoise waters of Lake Louise is hypnotic and is one of the most photographed locations in the Canadian Rockies.
We took the lake trail up to the Plain of Six Glaciers to Lake Agnes back down to Lake Louise.
It felt like endless steep climbs and took more than half a day to complete the loop, but it is one of the highlights of our time in Banff for sure.
3. Parker Ridge Hike
Even though it was raining and cold, the Parker Ridge Trail did not disappoint.
The 3.2-mile moderate hike tops our list for must-do trails in Banff. The trailhead is close to the border of Jasper National Park, just south of Columbia Icefields.
The 900-foot elevation gain leads to a charming lush meadow filled with colors of green grass, orange moss, and white wildflowers.
The top of the ridge delivers sensational views of staggering snow-covered peaks, the memorable Saskatchewan Glacier, and its valley below.
4. Tunnel Mountain Drive
Tunnel Mountain is a short scenic drive just outside of downtown.
Check out the mystical hoodoos by driving to the lookouts or hike the Hoodoos Trail to get a closer look at the peculiar pillars made from glacial material.
The Tunnel Mountain Trail is another outstanding hike that leads to spectacular views of the town of Banff and Bow Valley.
The trail begins with long switchbacks that gradually climbs the mountainside. You can either start the trail in downtown Banff on St. Julien Rd. or shave off a bit of climbing by hopping on from Tunnel Mountain Drive. The trail from here is 2.2 miles roundtrip.
5. Downtown Banff
Nestled among the mountains in the south section of the park, the town of Banff is a special place.
Paved trails wind through town, along the river to many of the popular sights making it easily walkable.
Take a pleasant stroll through the Cascades of Time Garden located behind the Banff Park Administration Building, one of the free things to do in Banff.
Stop by Banff Brewery to sample hand-crafted beers with a local flare.
RELATED: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK TRAVEL GUIDE
6. Secret Pub at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
If you can find the stealthy Waldhaus Pub & Patio at Banff Springs Hotel then you need to reward yourself with a drink!
We challenge you to locate it without asking for assistance. The Bavarian pub and restaurant is tucked away in the forest and offers a wide selection of German beer and food and is one of the unique things to do in Banff.
7. Vermilion Lakes Drive
The Vermilion Lakes Drive is short and sweet at only 2.4-miles long, but look at these views! The spot is postcard gold and the star is Mount Rundle.
8. Icefields Parkway Scenic Drive
It stretches 146 miles along Highway 93 from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park in the province of Alberta and it will blow you away!
Our favorite stops on the Banff side include Lake Louise, Peyto Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, Mistaya Canyon, and Columbia Icefield (which crosses over to Jasper).
READ NEXT: TOP THINGS TO DO IN JASPER NATIONAL PARK
9. Pristine Waters of Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is only half the size of Lake Louise, but is just as or maybe even more striking.
The lake is in the Valley of the Ten Peaks which provides a backdrop of soaring jagged mountain peaks along the shoreline. The short hike along the lake provides scenic lookouts at different vantage points along the water.
10. Minnewanka Loop Road
The Minnewanka Loop Road consists of Banff’s only beach, the longest lake in the Canadian Rockies, serene picnic areas, and various trailheads.
And so our epic 80 day summer road trip continues – 13 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces and 13 national parks. For the upcoming months, I will be sharing with you our highlights, lowlights, adventures, favorite spots, best tips and our thoughts on three months of road tripping and living in a pop up. I’ll try to answer any and all of your questions too! You can also follow our journey via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Miles Driven This Week: 895, Total Miles Driven: 5,235, Average Gas Price per Gallon: $3.39, Canadian Province: Alberta
Next: Kootenay National Park
Have you been to Banff National Park? What was your favorite thing to do?
Like it? Pin it!