ATTENTION: There are closures and restrictions in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Please review these changes before visiting the park.

Winding its way through sun-speckled forest, the Bow Valley Parkway provides visitors with a scenic, convenient and leisurely route between Banff and Lake Louise, and a quieter alternative to the Trans-Canada Highway. 48 kilometers of paved road showcase interesting roadside pull-offs and superb views, from flower-filled meadows to the multi-tiered pinnacles of Castle Mountain.

Did you know that the Bow Valley Parkway was the original road linking Banff and Lake Louise in the early 1990s?

Wildlife

Although the mountains are generally a harsh place for wildlife to live, the Bow Valley Parkway sits at a lower elevation on the sunny side of the valley, making it prime habitat. Here, water is abundant, winter snows are shallow and the warmth and lushness of summer produces diverse vegetation. .

Keep a sharp eye on the roadside slopes! Year-round, you may see elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer and wolves, while summer provides you with a rare opportunity to see black bears and grizzly bears.


When viewing wildlife:

  • Respect the slower speed limits to keep animals safe from collisions.
  • Be mindful of stopping suddenly on the road. Pull over where it is safe to do so, use your hazard lights, and avoid creating “wildlife jams”by promptly moving on.
  • Keep a respectful distance from wildlife.
  • Observe and photograph from the safety of your car.
  • Never approach or feed wildlife.

Wildlife safety and hazards

Activities and sightseeing

Driving or cycling the Bow Valley Parkway is a great experience unto itself. Enjoy outdoor activities and roadside pull-offs that make this alternate route unique.

The Bow Valley Parkway is also a continuation of the Banff Legacy Trail, linking Banff and Lake Louise as a cycling route.

  • Interpretive displays and marked pull-offs provide the chance to discover more about the landscape, wildlife and history of Banff National Park.
  • Scenic viewpoints, open meadows and picnic areas provide opportunities to appreciate the landscape, see wildlife, and relax along the way.
  • Remnants of the 1993 prescribed burn demonstrate the importance of fire to forest health and the regeneration of important ecosystems.
  • Johnston Canyon is a natural attraction for year-round enjoyment, featuring a powerful, thundering canyon in summer and stunning frozen waterfalls in winter.
  • Enjoy hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and camping.
Services and amenities

Visitors exploring the Bow Valley Parkway will find everything they need to stay and explore longer!

  • Accommodations include campsites and some of Banff's oldest and most traditional lodging.
  • Dining options range from grab-and-go snack bars to cafes to charming bistro-style dining rooms.
  • Additional amenities include a gas station, liquor and grocery store and various gift shops.

 Bow Valley Parkway Travel Restriction

From March 1 to June 25, the parkway is closed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. between the Trans-Canada Highway exit from Banff to just east of Johnston Canyon Campground.


More information:

Bow Valley Parkway: Banff's Heritage Drive

Map of the Bow Valley Parkway (PDF, 1.5 Mb)