Road rides in the Banff area
Rules of the road
- Always ride on the right, pass others on their left. If you are riding on a road with a sidewalk, stay on the road.
- Obey all traffic rules when riding on roads. At intersections, use hand signals to let drivers know which direction you will be travelling.
- On highways, ride as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb. For your safety, it is recommended that you ride single file.
- Stay within the posted speed limits.
- Road closures, speed limits and traffic controls apply to bicyclists too. The Bow Valley Parkway Mandatory Seasonal Travel Restriction applies to all travel, including bicyclists. From March 1st to June 25th, travel is not permitted between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the 17-kilometre section of the parkway from Johnston Canyon Campground to the Fireside Picnic Area. This is to ensure the area remains a high quality home for wildlife.
- Be visible when riding at dawn, dusk, or night. Always have a white front light and red rear and side reflectors and consider wearing reflective clothing.
- Be bear aware. Cyclists are particularly susceptible to sudden, dangerous bear encounters because of the speed and silence of their travel. Be alert, make noise, slow down, carry bear spray, and look ahead.
- Leave no trace. Be sure to pack out what you pack in – this includes all food and garbage. Leave natural and cultural objects undisturbed for others to discover.
- Do the right thing – protect wildlife. Littering, feeding animals or harassing wildlife is illegal and violators may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act.
- E-bikes (power-assisted bicycles) are prohibited on trails in Banff National Park, except:
- Trails within the town of Banff
- The Banff Legacy Trail from the Banff East Gate, through the Town of Banff, to the east end of the Bow Valley Parkway
- The Bow River Loop Trail from the Lake Louise campground or Bow River Bridge opposite of historic Lake Louise trail station (Station Restaurant)
- Tramline Trail from opposite of the Lake Louise train station to the main parking lot at Upper Lake Louise
- Great Divide Route from the parking lot at 3.6 km mark of the Lake Louise Drive
Share the roads and pathways
- The bike trails in Banff National Park are all shared-use trails— expect to encounter hikers, vehicles and horseback riders. Ride in control and be ready to stop at any time.
- If you are passing other bikers, walkers or runners, please be courteous. Use your voice or use a bell to let them know you’ll be passing on their left so they have a chance to move over.
You are responsible for your own safety. Be prepared for a breakdown or accident. Know how to repair your bike and carry the necessary tools and parts.
- Select a trip which best suits your group’s abilities, experience, interests, equipment and the time you have available. Be conservative—start with easier, shorter routes. Park Canada staff or bike shop employees can help you select a suitable route.
- Wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
- Bring extra food, water and clothing. Surface water may be contaminated and unsafe for drinking. Mountain weather changes quickly and it can snow any month of the year.
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Travel with others and keep your group together.
- Avoid wearing earbuds. Be alert at all times.
- Ask for advice at the Banff Visitor Centre about road conditions, descriptions, and weather.
Wildlife and people
The Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks are home to wildlife, including elk, wolves, cougars, and the remaining grizzly and black bear populations in North America. To successfully raise their young and sustain a healthy population, wildlife need access to as much quality habitat with as few human surprises as possible.
Be aware of possible encounters with wildlife, even on roads and paved trails.
- Carry bear spray with you at all times, ensure it is at hand, and know how to use it.
- Slow down and make noise. Your speed and quietness puts you at risk for sudden wildlife encounters. Slow down through shrubby areas and when approaching blind corners. Travel in groups, be alert and always look ahead.
Report bear, cougar, wolf and coyote sightings and encounters to Parks Canada staff at 403-762-1470, when it is safe to do so.
Family Friendly Rides
|Sundance||3.7 km one way|
|Tunnel Campground Loop||6.4 km loop|
|Banff Legacy Trail||29 km one way|
|Golf Course Drive||10,9 km loop|
|Vermilion Lakes Drive||4,3 km one way|
|Lake Minnewanka Road||13,1 km one way|
|Tunnel Mountain Drive/Road||10,7 km loop|
|Bow Valley Parkway (Banff to Lake Louise)||57,5 km one way|
|Norquay Road||6,1 km one way|
|Mountain Avenue||3,4 km one way|
|Sunshine Road (Trans-Canada Highway to Sunshine Village parking lot)||8,2 km one way|
Family Friendly Rides
3.7 km one way
Elevation gain 75 m, elevation loss 60 m
Starting Point: Cave and Basin National Historic Site
6.4 km loop
Elevation gain 70 m
Starting Point: Tunnel Mountain Campground
29 km one way
Elevation gain 24 m, elevation loss 113 m
Starting Points: Valleyview, Cascade Ponds, Vermilion Lakes and Fireside day-use areas or east end of Banff Avenue
10.9 km loop
Elevation gain 68 m, elevation loss 68 m
Starting Point: Bow Falls parking area
Cross the bridge over the Spray River at the end of the parking area, and you’re off. Perfect for a family outing, this road winds gently along the golf course before it loops back. This is a peaceful road with lovely views over the Bow River and surrounding peaks. While close to town, be alert – wildlife also enjoy this area.
Starting Point: Fenland day-use area, paved trail to Vermilion Lakes Drive
13.1 km loop
Elevation gain 160 m, elevation loss 160 m
Starting Points: Cascade Ponds and Lake Minnewanka day-use area or the Banff Legacy Trail
Lake Minnewanka Road is popular with cyclists and offers a pleasant ride through varied terrain, with panoramic views and many attractions including Cascade Ponds, Bankhead, Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. This narrow road can be busy, so ride with caution and be on the lookout for bighorn sheep on the slopes above Two Jack Lake. Connector: Banff Legacy Trail.
10.7 km loop
Elevation gain 180 m, elevation loss 180 m
Starting Point: Central Park parking area, West end of Buffalo Street
57.5 km one way (Banff to Lake Louise)
Elevation gain 340 m, elevation loss 177 m
Starting Points: From downtown Banff, access the trail via Vermillion Lakes Drive and the Banff Legacy Trail or begin at Fireside (49 km one way).
The Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) ride is a classic, gently rising and falling as it meanders through the Bow Valley to Castle Junction, and beyond to Lake Louise. On your trip, stop and enjoy the many picnic areas and rest stops along the way. This narrow road ride is often done from Banff, return, for a solid 115 km round trip, and can also be done as shorter trips. From Banff, ride to Johnson Canyon (50 km return), Castle Junction (65 km return), or Baker Creek (90 km return). For a multi-day trip, consider a guided or self-guided ride to Jasper (290 km one way). Whatever your route, wildlife sightings are common, so keep a look out and be prepared.
6.1 km one way
Elevation gain 327 m, elevation loss 12 m
Starting Point: Norquay Road, on the North side of the Trans-Canada Highway
This challenging climb up the mountain rewards riders with a spectacular panoramic view of the Banff townsite and surrounding Bow Valley. The Norquay Green Spot Viewpoint opens onto a grassy slope – a great place to stop for a picnic lunch or for photos. From the viewpoint, the road continues up to the Norquay ski area. Watch out for Bighorn Sheep on or near the road and the sharp turns, especially on the way down.
3.4 km one way
Elevation gain 214 m, elevation loss 32 m
Starting Point: Mountain Avenue, on the South side of the Banff Avenue Bridge
This route is a gradual, but continuous climb ending at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Gains in elevation from the valley bottom provide riders with exceptional views of the Bow Valley and the rugged profile of Mount Rundle. Mountain Avenue offers ample width for riders, however, vehicular traffic can be heavier during the summer.
8.2 km one way
Elevation gain 271 m, no elevation loss
Starting Point: Sunshine Ski Area Road, 7 km West of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway
The Sunshine Road begins its steady rise almost immediately, and offers a few steep ramps along the way to its termination at the ski area parking at the base of the Sunshine gondola. Vehicular traffic is moderate in the summer months, but be aware as the road is narrow throughout its length. Watch for wildlife along this twisty mountain road.