Lake Louise

The jewel of Banff National Park is Lake Louise with its shimmering turquoise green water and surrounding snow capped mountains rising up to 3,000 meters high. Although the water is too cold for bathing, it is ideal for canoeing. At the western end of Lake Louise, Mount Victoria (3,469 meters), rises in majestic splendor. A breathtaking view can be had from the shoreline. A paved trail runs along the water’s edge with beautiful views of the lake, mountains, and glacier.

Wildlife Viewing

The wildlife that inhabits this area is one of the great tourist attractions of Banff National Park. More than fifty species of mammals can be found in the national parks of this rocky region. Large wild animals are most likely to be spotted in the early morning and the evening. Elk are more often seen in the damp meadows of the valleys, while caribou and deer frequent the thicker woods and meadows. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep are found on the higher mountain slopes.

The park is also home to grizzly bears. Hiking trails are sometimes closed due to grizzlies in the area. Normally, they do not come near roads and towns. When walking in the “backcountry,” it is wise to keep an eye open for them and for the more common black bear. The latter prefer wooded areas and thick undergrowth on the flat valley floors and sunny south-facing slopes, while grizzlies keep to the alpine regions in summer but seek food lower down in spring and autumn. While it’s rare, grizzlies have been known to come right down to Moraine Lake, on one of the busiest walking paths in the middle of the day, with large groups of people around. These animals have poor sight but can smell or hear approaching humans long before they see them. Bears can be surprisingly quick, so hikers should never approach one.

Peyto Lake

At 2,068 meters, Bow Pass is the highest pass in Banff National Park and the watershed between the river systems of the North and South Saskatchewan River. A short branch road leads to the magnificent Peyto Lake viewpoint, and there is another superb lookout point that can be reached on foot about a kilometer from the parking area. Peyto Lake is the unique turquoise color of many of the glacier-fed lakes in this area, and is especially lovely in mid to late summer, when Bow Summit’s mountain meadows are carpeted with wildflowers.

A long, steep path from Bow Pass leads down for 2.5 kilometers to Peyto Lake, named after the mountain guide Bill Peyto, who began exploring the area in 1894 and took pack horses of supplies north over Bow Summit.

Bow Lake

Bow Lake, 34 kilometers north of Lake Louise, lies below the Crowfoot Glacier (shaped like a crow’s foot and clearly visible from the road) and Bow Glacier. The lake’s still and clear waters mirror the towering, snow-covered peaks of the continental divide. These glaciers form part of the great Waputik Icefield. There are lovely walks along the lake to a waterfall at the foot of the Bow Glacier (half a day) or to Helen Lake and Catherine Lake at the Dolomite Pass to the east (whole day).

Bow Valley Parkway

The 48-kilometer-long Bow Valley Parkway, which runs between Banff and Lake Louise, offers an alternative route to the busy Trans-Canada Highway. This route has numerous viewpoints as well as camping and picnic sites. Towering above it all is Castle Mountain, whose Eisenhower Peak is 2,728 meters high. The Bow Valley Parkway also offers a great chance to see some of the park’s wildlife. One of the most popular stops along the parkway is Johnston Canyon

Grassi Lake

The perfect family hike! The trail winds past a waterfall where it eventually leads you to two majestic turquoise lakes. You can’t miss the panoramic views of Canmore that surround you every step of the hike.

The trail has two routes. The easy route takes you up a gravel access road with a gentle rising slope to the lake. The difficult route takes you through the wooded trail out to the Grassi Lakes Waterfall (pictured above) before a steep accent to the lake. Grassi Lakes is also a popular rock climbing spot.

Bow Fall

Not like your typical waterfalls, the Bow Falls is wide and short. You might feel some mist from the waterfalls during the mid-summer due to the high water levels. You can also see the valley that was eroded by glacier activity and the Bow river over the years.

Across the bridge from the town turn left onto Spray Avenue, then take a left on Bow Falls drive, you will see parking on the left soon. You may not see the falls from parking lot yet, get closer to the water and you can’t miss it. The waterfalls are to your left and the valley straight ahead of you.

Late afternoon or even evenings will be quietest times to visit here. There is a trail that you can walk on from the town. Basically walk along the south side of the river after the bridge towards the East. There will be a sign.

Banff Gondola

The Banff Sightseeing Gondola is located just 5 minutes from the Town of Banff, on the shoulder of Sulphur Mountain, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.You will feel like you’re on top of the world when you are standing on the spacious main level observation deck, where the optional Banff Skywalk (a 1km self-guided interpretive walkway) leads you to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site and Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station

Johnston Canyon

About 26 kilometers along the Bow Valley Parkway is the entrance to Johnston Canyon with its two waterfalls. A trail leads through the canyon, with bridges along the steep cliff walls allowing visitors to get a feel for being in one of these unique canyons. The path continues on some six kilometers on the far side of the canyon, leading up to the Ink Pots, a group of springs.

Two of these are particularly striking because of the bluish-green color of the water. Most visitors just stick to the lower level, while those with more time and energy take on the more strenuous walk to the Ink Pots. Johnston Canyon is an impressive site in both summer and winter, although it sees very few visitors outside of the summer season.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, 11 kilometers northeast of Banff, is the largest lake within the national park and a scenic spot often frequented by bighorn sheep. A popular walking trail leads along the shore and up into the surrounding mountain side. Lake Minnewanka is the only lake in the park on which motorboats are allowed. It is also worthwhile going on to Two Jack Lake – where canoes can be rented – and Johnson Lake

Moraine lake

Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks is arguably as impressive as Lake Louise, but attracts fewer visitors. The picturesque turquoise-colored water is surrounded by ten peaks, each more than 3,000 meters high, and the Wenkchemna Glacier. The lake is located beyond Lake Louise, and the 13-kilometer road leading from Lake Louise up to Moraine Lake reveals one great view after another.

From near the parking area, a 1.5-kilometer-long walking trail runs along the northwest shore. This is a flat and easy walk. The most scenic walk involves a short climb up the Rockpile Trail to the best view of the lake, and the view most often seen on posters and postcards. This takes only about 20 minutes, but most people linger at the viewpoint. A popular, although strenuous, day hike leads from the lake to Sentinel Pass, one of the highest mountain passes in Banff National Park