Seasonal Road Closures and Openings
Statistically, it's the most dangerous activity in the park.
- Obey posted speed limits: 90 km/hr max (56 mph) on major routes and 60 km/hr max (37 mph) on secondary roads.
- Make allowances for other drivers, who may be in a hurry, lost, or distracted by the scenery...
- Be prepared for a variety of conditions; it may snow in summer at higher elevations.
- Slow down in bad weather or stop somewhere safe and wait it out.
- Watch out for cyclists. They may be difficult to see, especially from an RV. Do not drive on the road shoulder.
- Watch out for wildlife.
Driving in WINTER conditions takes extra care:
- Slow down if the road is snow-covered or if visibility is poor.
- Watch out for black ice, especially on bridges and near water.
- The use of cruise control is not recommended.
- Snow tires, all-season radials or chains are required by law for travel on all roads except Hwy #1 and #16.
- It is a good idea to equip your car with a shovel, flashlight, blanket, food and extra warm clothing.
- Cell phone reception outside of townsites is unreliable.
Mountain National Parks Road Conditions Report
Watch out for animals near the road
Drive with care and be prepared to avoid a collision at all
times. Be especially cautious at dusk and dawn, when many
animals are most active, and visibility is poor.
If you see an animal by the road:
- Slow down. It could run out into your path at any time.
- Warn other motorists by flashing your hazard lights.
- Where there is one animal, expect others nearby.
If you wish to stop and view roadside wildlife:
- Pull safely out of traffic.
- Remain in your vehicle.
- Move on after a few minutes.
If you see a bear... Consider not stopping.
If you see a bear beside the road, consider this:
It may run onto the road.
At any time, anywhere. And especially if there are crowds of people stopping to watch it, getting out of their cars, approaching too closely. In the past 10 years, 125 bears have been killed on roads in the mountain national parks.
It is stronger and faster than you are.
It may look 'docile', but a bear that appears unconcerned about your presence is the one you should fear the most. It's obviously not afraid of you, and it could be getting a bit bothered by all the people who keep disturbing it - all day long, day after day...
It is likely eating or looking for food.
Bears have to eat almost constantly during the snow-free months to accumulate enough energy to survive their long winter hibernation. Being able to feed undisturbed may make the difference between life or death for that bear or, if it's a female, for her offspring: though she may have mated in the spring, she can't get pregnant unless she builds up enough body fat over the summer.
It could be a female.
In this harsh mountain environment, it takes a female grizzly 7 years to reach breeding age, and her cubs will stay with her for 3 or 4 years. This means she may only produce two litters of offspring in her lifetime - a very low reproductive rate. The unnatural loss of any individual, especially a female, is therefore a serious threat to the long-term survival of the population.
It could be an adolescent.
Trying to find its place in a difficult world, an adolescent bear is highly susceptible to picking up bad habits (like losing its natural fear of people) and getting into trouble (by approaching people for food). The fact that relatively few roadside adolescent bears survive to maturity in our busy parks is one of the reasons that scientists fear for the future of the grizzly in this part of the world.
If it loses its wildness, it probably won't survive.
'Habituated' bears - bears that have lost their natural fear of humans - almost inevitably become "problem" bears. They actively seek out places where people congregate because they have learned that where there are people, there is also food and garbage to eat. Over time they become increasingly more aggressive in their search for an easy meal. Problem bears usually end up having to be removed or destroyed because of the threat they pose to public safety. It is very difficult, and often impossible, to undo habituation. The only real solution is prevention.
If you see a bear beside the road, consider not stopping.
Give Them the Space They Need
Please do your part to limit the impact that so many people have on park wildlife. Give all the animals you see the respect they deserve and the space they need. Enjoy a safe visit and ensure that future generations have the chance to see wildlife that is truly wild.
Watch out for wildlife:
Moraine Lake Road is closed to vehicles from early fall to late spring.
The Moraine Lake Road is closed to vehicles from early fall to late spring due to ice, snow and avalanche hazard. Exact opening and closing dates are dependent on seasonal conditions. The road is usually open from early June to early October. For most of the winter, the lower 8 km section of the road is maintained as a cross-country ski trail. Contact a Parks Canada Information Centre for further information.
Moraine Lake Area Trails: Access Update
Grizzly bear © Parks Canada
SPRINGTIME ALONG THE BOW VALLEY PARKWAY ~ a special time of year, means special considerations
The Bow Valley Parkway traverses some of the best wildlife habitat in Banff National Park. It lies in what is called the montane ecoregion; a vital part of the park which supports the majority of wildlife and provides critical habitat for large carnivores, including wolves, cougars and grizzly bears. This area is especially important in spring when most of the park is still snowbound.
Although it is one of the best places to see wildlife, wildlife may not always want to see us. In fact, sensitive wildlife, such as bears, cougars and wolves, will avoid an area, even rich habitat found along the parkway, if there are too many people using it. This means our actions have an effect on their chances of survival.
Bow Valley Parkway Seasonal Travel Restrictions