Established in 1885 after a fluky discovery by three railway construction workers, Banff National Park has been a famed destination thanks to its myriad of ecological and geological features.
Here you will find glaciers, snow-capped mountains, glacial lakes, alpine meadows as well as hot springs, which makes it a premier spot to outdoor enthusiasts.
Situated in Alberta, one of the most scenic provinces in Canada and located just south of Jasper National Park, Banff spreads over 6600 sq. feet along the rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
Banff is not only one of the oldest national parks in the country but it’s also a top favorite to countless nature fanatics across the globe.
Here’s a complete Banff National Park travel guide to make your visit as seamless as possible.
– Winter in Banff National Park
Banff National Park boasts a subpolar climate – snowy winters, temperate summers, and a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year.
However, it’s important to note that the weather fluctuates regularly based on the time of the day and the elevation you’re at, which means it’s difficult to accurately predict the weather conditions in Banff.
Bear in mind that mountains can practically create their own weather so you should be ready to face a mix of everything!
Typically, January is the coldest month averaging between 12 °F (-11 °C) at night and 23 °F (-5 °C) during the daytime, while July is the hottest at around 73 °F (23 °C).
– Larch Valley near Lake Louise
Whether you’re planning to go snow sculpting, skiing, and snowboarding in the winter or sightseeing, hiking, and kayaking in the summer, Banff National Park is a treasure trove throughout the year.
Any time is a great time to visit Banff as each season boasts unique landscapes, events, and activities.
Choosing the time of year that best suits your travel style will draw a line between an ordinary trip and an epic getaway.
Here’s a simple guide that breaks down when is the best time to travel to Banff:
– Lower Falls, Johnston Canyon
Located about 80 miles (129 km) west of Calgary, traveling to Banff National Park is pretty straightforward.
There are lots of national and international flights checking in to Calgary’s International Airport and from here, you can purchase a bus ticket that takes you straight to Banff.
As another option is to rent a car — take Trans-Canada Highway 1 (accessible from the west of Calgary) and head straight to the park.
Or if you want to take all the hassle out of planning, you can always join a group tour to Banff.
– Driving down Icefields Parkway
There are a couple of options to wind your way through Banff National Park and the best way depends on the amount of time you have and your pace.
Here are the best ways to get around Banff National Park:
– Welcome Sign at Banff National Park
For your visit to Banff National Park, a Parks Canada Pass is required and can be purchased in advance online or in-person at select locations.
The park pass provides entry into multiple national parks, including Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Park.
The pass must be printed and displayed clearly on the left side of your car’s dashboard or else you run the risk of getting a ticket!
Banff National Park is massive and definitely requires some prior planning before visiting.
If you’re not hiring a tour guide to take you around, mapping a proper trip itinerary to Banff should be the most important thing to do before heading here!
It makes sure you’ll have ample time and freedom to explore the park without scrambling around last minute for an itinerary.
If you want to avoid the hassle of booking everything and following an itinerary by yourself, tour companies and guides are the best options, and it’s a great way to unveil hidden gems that only the locals know of!
Whether you want a simple guided tour across the streets of Banff or you’re eager to marvel at the mesmerizing glacial landscape in the Columbia Icefields, there are dozens of tour operators that are ready to make your Banff National Park experience unforgettable.
Depending on where you want to go and the type of excursions you’re hoping to take part in, your daily tour budget can wildly vary.
Typically, you can expect to pay between $50 and $150 CAD for day trips.
For instance, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake tours, which takes roughly 4.5 hours may cost you $80 – $150 CAD depending on the season.
There are so many activities to do and lots of attractions to visit in Banff!
Some of the highlights include:
Running out of things to do is nearly impossible with so many beautiful attractions and national historic sites in the Banff area!
These are the most popular points of interest in Banff that you should definitely include in your itinerary:
– Peyto Lake Viewpoint
Through many trips to Banff, you’ll discover that there’s many spectacular dining experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.
The town of Banff is packed with a great selection of accommodations for all sorts of travelers, ranging from luxurious hubs and family-friendly hotels to cozy chalets and budget hostels.
If you’re a camper and prefer gazing at the stars at night in canvas tents or an RV, the park boasts a wide selection of great RV sites and campgrounds.
Here are a few of the top hotels in Banff that are well-loved by past travelers:
With so much to do and so much information scattered across the internet, planning your Banff National Park vacation can get pretty overwhelming.
This travel guide has all you need to get the ball rolling on making your trip to the Canadian Rockies an unforgettable one!
If you’ve got any questions on your upcoming trip to Banff, leave a message below 🙂