Banff National Park Things to Do Tips by Camping_Girl Top 5 Page for this destination
Banff National Park Things to Do: 396 reviews and 568 photos
Moraine Lake - from the ground
Moraine Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Canadian Rockies, especially during the summer when you can see the amazing turquoise blue colour that is common in the Rocky Mountain lakes.
The road that goes to Moraine Lake is closed from early October until late May. Even after the road opens in late May, the lake usually does not develop its brilliant turquoise colour until about the middle of June.
You will get the best view of Moraine Lake from the top of the pile of rocks at the north end of the lake. It really is worth the few minutes it takes to walk up there. The easy path along the lakeshore is also a worthwhile walk.
The parking lot at the lake gets very busy from about 10 am to 4 pm in July and August. You can avoid parking hassles if you go outside of those times. Or there is also the Moraine Lake Shuttle Bus that leaves from the hostel in Lake Louise Village.
You can also rent canoes there for $35 an hour. If you happen to be staying at Moraine Lake Lodge, the canoes can be used free of charge.
Address: 15 km off main road #93
Directions: Take the road out of the village of Lake Louise, heading "up" to Lake Louise. Watch for the signs to turn off to the left for Moraine Lake.
View across the lake
Lake Minnewanka is north of the town of Banff & is accessed by Lake Minnewanka Drive. It is a 10 km drive from the town of Banff. The native Indians used to call this place the "Lake of the Water Spirits".
Once at the lake you can take a hike along the lakeshore trail to Stewart Canyon, about a 30 minute round trip. During the summer boat tours can be taken here. The boat tours are available from mid-May to the first weekend in September. This is also a popular fishing and boating area. Please watch out for divers, if you are boating on your own.
There is actually a town at the bottom of Lake Minnewanka. This area was dammed up in 1912 and again in the 30's. The town is one of the better diving areas in western Canada. Divers must be experienced in cold water diving & also in low visibility areas. Look for the little buoys with red flags along the lake when you are here - they indicate divers are under water in the area.
Address: 10 km north of Banff townsite
Directions: The phone # above is for Lake Minnewanka boat tours. Call for times and fees.
Road makes room for a tree!
The Bow Valley Parkway is the original #1 highway through the park. It is now the #1A highway, and is called the Bow Valley Parkway. This roads winds its way for 31 miles through the forest and along the Bow River just north of the Trans Canada Highway. It is a very scenic and relaxing route to get from Banff to Lake Louise. While the road is open year round, the eastern half from Banff to Castle Mountain Junction is closed from 6pm to 9am from March 1 to June 25, due to spring mating season.
This road is a great place to spot wildlife. Due to the curving nature and slower pace of this road, it is also a great road for a motorbike. I would caution all riders though to keep a sharp watch for wildlife and don't ride this road in the early morning or after about 6:00 pm, due to the increased activity of deer and elk during these periods. All drivers are cautioned to follow the posted speed limits on this road, since there are collisions with wildlife on this highway all year round.
The Bow Valley Parkway is the access road to Johnston Canyon. There are also numerous pull-outs along this road, many of which explain the geography of the area. Also along this route is a monoment honouring the many Ukrainians who were held in internment camps in this area during the war. There are also a couple of campgrounds along this road. As an FYI to campers, these campgrounds tend to be the last ones to fill up daily, so keep that in mind if you don't have a reservation and are looking for a site inside the park.
Address: Between Banff and Lake Louise
Directions: From Banff, go west on #1 highway. The Bow Valley Parkway exit is 5 km/3 miles west of the Banff townsite.
From Lake Louise, go north out of town over the #1 overpass. The junction for #1A is just past the overpass, on your right.
The hoodoos are an interesting geologic formation created by thousands of years of erosion. The wind over the years has worn away the softer rock layers, leaving behind uniquely shaped spires of harder rock. Hoodoos can have different coloured layers in them, depending on what rock is exposed by the erosional effects of the wind.
There is a hiking trail in Banff along Tunnel Mountain Road where you can easily view the hoodoos in the valley. The trail is moderate and roughly a one mile return trip.
Address: Banff National Park
Directions: Along Tunnel Mountain Road - watch for the parking lot for the area.
Old house foundations
Bankhead used to be a coal mine & mining town, but it is now a ghost town. The mine closed in the early 1930's. Upper Bankhead is the site of the original mine and the townsite. Most of the houses were moved into Banff and those that weren't were torn down. All that remains of the town is a few foundations. If you follow the old fire burn trail a short distance from the picnic area you can see a huge tailings pile, from the original mine.
Lower Bankhead is the site of the second mine site. What remains here is a few foundations and some mining artifacts. The site is accessed by a hiking trail that makes a loop through the area. This area is not wheelchair accessible.
Upper Bankhead site is marked by a road sign. Lower Bankhead is a short distance before you get to Upper Bankhead, look for an unmarked paved parking lot on the right (east) side of the road.
There is no admission to tour either area.
Address: Lake Minnewanka Loop
Directions: 8 km from Banff, along the Lake Minnewanka Loop
Lake Louise, with Victoria Glacier at the end
Lake Louise (the lake, not the village) is situated about 2.5 miles up the mountain from the village of Lake Louise. Also situated on the shore of Lake Louise is the famous Chateau Lake Louise. This is a great place to stay if you have deep pockets. If, like me, you don't have deep pockets then do what the locals do. Drive up to the lake, park in the public parking lot (it's free) and walk down to the lake. Take a few photos and wander through the market area of the Chateau, if you want. There are several trailheads that take off from this area as well: Lake Agnes, Plain of Six Glaciers, Saddleback and Fairview.
Address: 36 Miles or 56 Kilometers from Banff
Directions: From the village of Lake Louise, take the 4 km drive up the mountain on Lake Louise Drive. When you see the Chateau, turn into the lots to your left. This is the public parking area.
Slightly overexposed shot of Two Jack Lake...
Two Jack Lake is accessed by Lake Minnewanka Drive. This is a really gorgeous blue lake, with 2 nice campgrounds closeby. There is also a day-use picnic area here. Two Jack Main campground is across the highway from the lake, while Two Jack Lakeside is adjacent to the lake. You will see a lot of divers in this lake as well.
Address: Along Lake Minnewanka Drive
Directions: South of Lake Minnewanka Drive, on the east side of the loop.
Looking north towards Vermilion Lakes
The Vermilion Lakes are 3 small lakes in a wetland area that are situated west of the Banff townsite. You can stroll around this wetland area in the summer time. Fenland Trail is also accessible from this area.
Address: Vermilion Lakes Drive
Directions: Off Mount Norquay Road, directly south of the Trans Canada Highway - turn onto Vermilion Lakes Drive. Follow the road to the parking lot.
View of BSH from Surprise Corner
Surprise Corner is situated at the intersection of Buffalo Avenue & Tunnel Mountain Drive. There is an elevated viewing platform here, where you have amazing views of the Banff Springs Hotel and the Bow Valley. This is THE place to go, for a great photo of the Banff Springs Hotel. The Bow Falls are just below the viewing platform & can be reached via a short trail.
Alternate directions to Surprise Corner:
Take Tunnel Mountain Road to Tunnel Mountain Drive and follow this road to Surprise Corner. This route is not accessible during the winter.
Address: Buffalo Avenue & Tunnel Mtn Drive
Directions: Follow Banff Avenue thru downtown. Just before the bridge over the Bow River, turn left onto Buffalo Avenue and follow this road to Surprise Corner.
Bow Falls is a smallish waterfall situated in the town of Banff. Follow Banff Avenue across the Bow River & turn left after the bridge. Follow the road towards Banff Springs Hotel & watch for the sign to Bow Falls.
Address: Bannf Alberta
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