10 Things You Have to See in Banff National Park (...and a few more)
There are so many things to see in Banff National Park that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to do first. Here are some of the highlights that you should be sure not to miss.
Note: From 2015 to 2020, Parks Canada will invest $2.6 billion to rehabilitate infrastructure assets across Canada. For a list of current infrastructure projects that may impact visitors, see Infrastructure Projects.
Banff | Between Banff and Lake Louise | Lake Louise | On the Icefields Parkway
Birthplace of Canada's national parks - The Cave and Basin National Historic Site
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site celebrates Parks Canada’s protected natural and cultural treasures with all new year-round programming and interactive exhibits. The highlight for many will be a visit to the fully accessible underground Cave, a special place where bubbling thermal waters connect people to the essence of Banff National Park.
20 min north of Banff on the Minnewanka loop
The Stoney-Nakoda First Nations knew lake Minnewanka as the “the Lake of the Water Spirits”. The area is a great place to relax by the water, picnic, dive, mountain bike, hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe.
Banff Legacy Trail
Banff Legacy Trail
From Banff east gate to the Bow Valley Parkway
Paved trails and roadways span for 26 kilometres from Banff National Park’s East Gate to the Bow Valley Parkway, Enjoy views, picnic areas, the townsite, and a variety of rest spots and trail connectors.
Upper Hot Springs Pool
Upper Hot Springs Pool
Relax in the comfort of soothing natural hot springs where travellers have come to ‘take the waters’ for more than a century.
Hike the 3 km loop of Johnson Lake or canoe, fish, kayak on its waters.
5min west of Banff on the Vermilion road
Discover the important wetlands of Vermilion Lakes while enjoying wildlife viewing and bird watching.
Between Banff and Lake Louise
Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A)
Feel the spray of waterfalls from catwalks that cling to the canyon walls: 1.1 km (20 min) to the Lower Falls: 2.7 km (1hr) to the Upper Falls. Located on the Bow Valley Parkway or Highway 1A.
Around the Village of Lake Louise
This hamlet and lake offer some of the finest hiking, skiing and sightseeing in the world. Explore the highlights below or learn more about the area.
Lake Louise (The Lake)
The emerald hues and glacial backdrop of Lake Louise have wowed visitors since the 1890s. The lake offers photographic moments, a lakeshore stroll, canoeing and horseback riding. From July through September, the best time to visit is before 11 am or after 5 pm. From November through June, avoid travel beyond the boathouse on the left side of the lake due to avalanche hazard.
Lake Agnes Trail
© BLLT / Paul Zizka
One of the most hiked trails in the area, the 6.8 km return trail gains 385 m elevation gain to a seasonal mountain teahouse. During the summer and fall, the trail takes you past Mirror Lake to enjoy a steeped cup of ‘high’ tea with a stunning view of Lake Louise. November through late spring, turn around at Mirror Lake to avoid dangerous avalanche terrain. In May and June, check the trail report before departing.
Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
Glaciers, vaulting peaks, avalanche paths, wildlife and a mountain teahouse are all part of this classic hike. This famous Lake Louise hike offers great satisfaction for a moderate 10 km effort. November through late spring, choose another option as this trail is subject to dangerous avalanche hazard. In May and June, check the trail report before departing.
Known as the Valley of the Ten Peaks, this area offers hiking, paddling, and dramatic photographic opportunities. Best time to visit is before 11 am or after 5 pm. The road is closed between mid-October and mid-June.
The Icefields Parkway connects Lake Louise and Jasper, parallelling the Continental Divide through some of the most wild and remote parts of Banff and Jasper national parks. Explore two highlights below or learn more about the area.
Bow Summit and Peyto Lake
Bow Summit is the height of land between the Bow River system, flowing to Banff, and the Mistaya River system. Reach Peyto Lake after a short uphill walk and enjoy views of the brilliantly turquoise, glacial fed lake.
Bow Lake and Bow Glacier
Bow Lake is one of the more scenic and accessible lakes for fishing. The turquoise blue water is the source of the Bow River. From here you can view the majestic Bow Glacier.