What airport to fly into?
We flew into Calgary Airport. It’s almost a 2 hours drive to Banff, but we decided to start with Banff then drive to Jasper. Some people start with Jasper and go to Banff. Completely up to you!
When’s the best time to travel to Banff?
Definitely explore the national parks between June and September. June is usually the warmest time of year; however, September was perfect for us because the summer crowds weren’t there and it was the end of holidays for many families and children. You can’t go wrong between June and September.
How do you use GPS around Banff/Jasper National Park?
Download the Google Maps application onto your device and enter both locations on the app. You can click your profile picture >> offline maps >> highlight entire region on map and download the map at your hotel where you have WIFI. That way, you can use GPS all day while you have no service inside the park.
DAY 1 (Half-Day)
- Explore Main Street
- Stroll along Lake Minnewanka
- Dinner in the Town of Banff
We got into Banff in the afternoon so we decided to go to main street first to explore, grab some snacks for our daily hikes, and scope out some restaurants. Head into Banff National Park and watch the sunset in Lake Minnewanka. There’s a short hike along the lake and dock with canoes available for sunset activity. As it approaches winter in October, the snow will begin to trickle down and the hikes won’t be as pleasant or easy to do. Highly recommend coming during the summer or fall seasons only to participate in activities like canoeing!
- Sunrise at Lake Louise
- Hike Around Lake Moraine
- Canoe on Lake Louise
- Hike to Little Bee Hive Trail
Watch the sunrise at Lake Louise! Highly recommend arriving to the park before 7am before all the parking spots are taken. Most people go to Lake Moraine for sunrise and the parking lot gets full by 4:30am. Trust me, we went and couldn’t get a spot so we went to Lake Louise and it did not disappoint!
From Lake Louise, you can drive to the Ski Lodge about 5km away from Lake Louise parking lot, From the Ski Lodge, you can purchase shuttle tickets that’s good for the entire day and it’ll take you to Lake Moraine, Lake Louise, etc. The tickets cost about $20 CAN per person.
You can hike the trail along Lake Moraine and make it to the stream that comes down from the glaciers and mountains. It’s a great place to rest and take in the views of the lake, eat snacks, and be one with nature.
The trail along Lake Moraine was one of the best strolls in Banff National Park. The color of the water changes throughout the day. As the sun rises, the water appears a dark deep turquoise and at the peak of the day, the lake looks light crystal turquoise as if someone painted it with a brush.
Take the shuttle from Lake Moraine to Lake Louise. You can rent a canoe for $145 CAN an hour. It’s definitely worth the experience. In the afternoon when the sun is at its peak, the color of the water completely changes compared to sunrise. By this time, it’s turquoise blue. No filter needed.
Hike to the Little Beehive trail. All information pertaining to length and difficulty of hike can be found in the national park map that’s handed to you at the entrance of the park. All hikes suggested in this itinerary are easy or moderate. Little Beehive trail is a moderate hike with incline mostly on the way up but with proper hiking shoes and adequate breaks, you can make it to this secluded lake. There’s a teahouse at the top where you can purchase drinks and snacks as well. They usually close by 4pm, so plan accordingly if you want to make it in time to purchase some treats at the top.
- Drive the Icefields Parkway
- Stops from Banff to Jasper – Saskatchewan River Crossing, Bow Lake, Waterfowl Lakes
- Sunwapta Falls
- Athabasca Falls
- Stops from Jasper to Banff – Glacier View Lodge, Waterfowl Lakes, Peyto Lake
Drive along Icefields Parkway Scenic Highway towards Jasper National Park where there will be many stops along the way at beautiful bodies of water. These locations are about a 2.5 hour drive into Banff National Park and beyond. This road links Lake Louise to Jasper National Park. Herbert Lake was the first stop we made off the side of the road and walked through a short trail through a forest of trees to a picturesque lake.
Sunwapta Falls & Athabasca Falls are main attractions in Jasper National Park. Each of trails are a short flat walk to these gorgeous waterfall views. There are outlooks at multiple angles along the path where these bodies of water lie.
Waterfowl Lakes was our favorite lake out of all the lakes in Jasper National Park. Although Peyton Lake is usually the main attraction for the glacial water color, Waterfowl Lakes was breathtaking no matter the time of day. We stopped during the road trip towards the waterfalls, but we also stopped by again for the sunset.
Peyton Lake is known for its vast embodiment. It’s a short hike ~2 miles to the outlook deck; however, it is incline on the way up. This hike is rated as easy, but subject to person’s stamina for cardio. Here, you’ll get a panoramic view of the valley AND the lake.
Along the hike to Peyton Lake, we enjoyed the aroma of the pine trees.
- Sunrise hike on Tunnel Mountain
- Banff Sign
- Bow Falls
- Vermillion Lakes
- Sulfur Mountain Hot Springs
- Downtown Banff
Sunrise at Tunnel Mountain near the Town of Banff was a moderate hike to the peak for panoramic views of Banff. Definitely allocate at least 30-45minutes for the hike to make it to the top in time for sunrise.
Take a photo with the Banff sign!
Walk or drive along the scenic road of the Vermillion Lakes. The docks are usually empty and its a great place to bring some coffee, eat breakfast while enjoying the views.
Bow Falls can be viewed through two trails. There’s a flat walking path along the road, but if you want to view it on the lower end, there’s a short hike across the bridge towards the castle. Depending on personal preference, walking along the side of the road may be satisfactory.
Sulfur Hot Springs is a great way to spend 2-3 hours to unwind, alleviate muscle tension, and take in the valley views. Most people do the sulfur mountain hike and then relax at the hot springs; however, its only worth the strenuous hike if the sun is out and the cloud are not blocking views of the valley. Weather will be important to consider for this last hike.
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