A land of ice fields, glaciers, black diamond downhill adventures, and tracks where wildlife roam free, Banff National Park is one of the premier parks in Canada.
|Park||Banff National Park|
|Things To Do||Picnic, Drive, Discover|
|Hotels Near Banff National Park||The Rimrock Resort Hotel, High Country Inn, Many More|
|Price||$10 to $139.40|
|Camping Location||Multiple Locations|
If you have never been to Banff National Park and wondering what the park has to offer and what you can do there to make the best of your time, let us tell you that there’s a long list of things to do and see in the park than you could ever imagine.
In this article, we’ll share some top things to see and do in Banff National Park plus some useful tips to make your visit worthwhile. Let’s get started!
Introduction to Banff National Park
Banff National Park is one of the biggest national treasures of Canada that attracts millions of visitors from all around the globe.
Located in the west of Calgary, Alberta, the Banff National Park covers more than 6, 641 square kilometers of the pristine Canadian wilderness.
From breathtaking mountain scenery, glacier-carved lakes, cold clear rivers, to snowcapped alpine peaks and dense pine forests, Banff National Park has it all.
In 1984, the Banff National Park was included in the “UNESCO World Heritage Site” for its conspicuous mountain landscape and exceptional natural beauty.
The Park attracts more than 5 million visitors each year to marvel at the unrivaled beauty of the Canadian Rockies and enjoy an arsenal of activities.
It is also home to some of North America’s Wildest creatures including wolves, beaver, caribou, and grizzly bears.
History of Banff National Park
In 1883, three railway workers discovered a natural hot spring in the Rocky Mountains of Canada what is now called “Sulphur Mountain” and from there the first national park of Canada was formed and the world’s third.
Soon after Cave and Basin hot springs were quickly identified as potential tourist attractions.
In 1885, the Canadian Government created a reserve to preserve the spring and surrounding area.
The area was further expanded in 1887 and was designated as “Rocky Mountains Park of Canada” and later renamed Banff National Park.
The townsite was subjected to further development and was soon being promoted as an international resort and Spa to draw visitors from all around the world.
Best Things to do in Banff National Park
Get a head start on your Banff National Park visit with these top 5 must-see attractions:
Lake Louise is considered the jewel of Banff National Park due to its mesmerizing beauty. The turquoise waters, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and sparkling glaciers, Lake Louise offers unparalleled views and beauty.
The Lake Louise resort is one of the world’s top 3 best ski resorts where nature lovers can enjoy a wide array of activities including hiking, boating, swimming, snowboarding, and skiing.
For some on-the-lake relaxation, you can take boat tours or rent a kayak at the Fairmont. The lake is open for tourists for every season to marvel at the stunning natural wonder.
Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail
Plain of Six Glaciers Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park.
This 14.6-kilometer-long trail is incredibly scenic and takes you up to the heart of Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria, and Victoria glacier, the sight of which will take your breath away.
On your way, take a moment to stop at the Lake Louise viewing platform to soak in the majestic beauty of icy-blue water and majestic mountains.
If you’re lucky enough, you can see one of the rare Rocky Mountain goats on your way who call these slopes home.
The Icefield’s Parkway
Considered one of the most scenic drives in the world, the Icefield Parkway should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit in the Banff National Park.
Around every turn, the icefields parkway reveals spectacular views of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, turquoise lakes, and wildlife.
The road stretches for 230 kilometers from Lake Louise in the South to the Jasper National Park in the North.
Some of the most popular highlights of Icefield Parkway include Herbert Lake, Crowfoot glacier viewpoint, Bow Lake, Mistaya Canyon, Tangle creek falls, and Parker Ridge trail.
Fairmont Banff Springs
Located near the adorable village of Banff, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is one of the main highlights of Banff National Park.
Once planned to be the largest hotel in the world, this hotel is designed as a Castle, set off in a wooded area with magnificent views of surroundings.
You can freely walk around the hotel, viewing different rooms and their history museum. The hotel is easily accessible on foot from downtown Banff.
Town of Banff
The little town of Banff located near the south of the Banff National Park is one of the most sought-after destinations in Alberta.
The place is the center of the tourism industry will all kinds of outdoor adventure outfitters, interesting shops, art galleries, eateries, and accommodation options.
During Summer, the town is fully packed with tourists who came to see the Canadian Rockies. The town maintains its lively atmosphere even in the winters
Best Time to Visit
The Banff National Park is an all-year-round destination and the ideal time really depends on what you are looking to do in the park.
June to August is the best time for hiking, climbing, paddling, and mountain biking as the weather is warm and welcoming with hotel rates in the town being at affordable rates.
December to March is the best time to enjoy incredible downhill and cross-country skiing as the four major resorts operate in the winters.
From November to May, is one of the longest ski seasons in North America, not to mention the backcountry trails available throughout the park.
Pick a map of the park at the Banff National Park and the surrounding area at the Lake Louise Visitor center as entering the park.
GPS guides are also available at the centers. You can also visit the official site of Banff National Park to download the maps, brochures, and guides that can be very helpful during your visit.
Hotels Near Banff National Park
The lodging options inside the park are classic options to stay including Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise, Banff Spring Hotel, and Baker Creek Mountain Resort, but if you want to stay in a hotel or can’t get a reservation,
Here are the top 5 hotels near the park that are worth considering:
- The Rimrock Resort Hotel
- Banff Ptarmigan Inn
- High Country Inn
- Stone Ridge Mountain Resort
- Banff Park Lodge Resort & Conference Center
Camping In Banff National Park
Banff National Park is the perfect place for camping to experience the beauty of the park from a different angle.
Camping in the park is allowed in designated areas only with a camping permit and a national park entry pass.
Visitors need to reserve the campgrounds in advance in order to camp. All the campgrounds are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
For more information or reserve your campsite, click here.
The temperature in the Banff National Park fluctuates dramatically throughout the year. The average summer temperature ranges from the 40°F to 70°F while during winter temperature range from single digits to the low 30°F.
No matter when you choose to visit, make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses with you as the sun at the alpine altitudes is harsh.
Make sure to check out the weather forecast before visiting.
Entry Pass and Reservations
The entry fee is $10 for adults, $8.40 for seniors, $20 for Family/group, and $8.40 for commercial group per person. The entry for 6 and 17 years is free.
The entry with Parks Canada Discovery Pass is $69.19 for adults, $59.17 for seniors, and $139.40 for Family/group.
The Park passes can be purchased at the park entrance or in person at the visitor centers in Banff and Lake Louise.
Checklist For Banff National Park
Here’s are some essentials you need to pack with you to make your trip secure and comfortable:
- Insulating clothing layers
- Hiking boots/sandals, runners
- Hat and gloves
- Sunscreen & Sunglasses
- Pocket knife
- Headlamp/ flashlight
- Insect repellent
- First-aid kit
- High-energy snacks and water
- Park’s Map & compass
How many days do I need to explore Banff National Park?
You’d need at least 3 days to explore the park and do some fun activities like hiking, canoeing, and skiing.
Is Banff National Park better than Jasper National Park?
Banff National Park has a lot more to explore than Jasper National Park. Especially when it comes to skiing and other winter activities, Banff is clearly a winner.
Are Pets allowed in Banff National Park?
Yes, pets are allowed in Banff National Park, but they must be kept on a leash, all the time.