If you’ve never been to Canada, you MUST make a stop in Alberta province. It is one of the most breathtaking places you can ever visit. The landscape is AMAZING and drool-worthy!
I haven’t been everywhere but just when I thought I have seen some of the most beautiful places, Canada blew my mind and is high on my list for natural beauty.
It was my first time in Canada and so glad I picked Alberta to visit. Best times to see the turquoise-colored lakes in Banff is between June and August. Shoulder season is September to October. Ski season is December to March.
Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park and it has 41 hikes that can be done in a day. If you go during melting season (May), you are limited in hiking trails due to accumulation of snow or ice.
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THINGS TO DO AT BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Hike Johnston Canyon
Distance: 0.7 mi (1.1 km) to Lower Falls / 1.6 mi (2.6 km) to Upper Falls
Total Time: 30 minutes roundtrip to Lower Falls / 2 hours roundtrip to Upper Falls
Level of Difficulty: Easy to semi-moderate
This is a very popular attraction so beware that you will come across a lot of people on the trail. Many strollers and kids. Also, parking might be a hassle depending on your arrival time. You might end up parking on the street and far from the trail.
Hike the Upper Lake Louise area
There are 7 hiking trails you can do and I did 2 of them.
Trail: Lakeshore Trail
Distance: 1.2 mi (2 km)
Total Time: 2 hours roundtrip
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Very easy trail to do. It is flat all the way till you reach another trail, Plain of Six Glaciers. Great views of the turquoise frozen lake.
Trail: Lake Agnes / Mirror Lake
Distance: Close to 2 mi (3.2 km) to Lake Agnes
Total Time: 2 hours roundtrip (with ice on the ground)
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
I did not have enough time to complete the hike to Lake Agnes so I ended at Mirror Lake. The trail remains steep all the way. If you hike this trail in May, expect to see ice and snow. If ice, it will be slippery. The snow is thicker the higher up you go. There were people on the trail but not nearly as many as on Lakeshore Trail.
Drive on Icefields Parkway
One word, STUNNING! You will be blown away without a doubt. There are some hiking trails and depending on the season, you might see some wildlife. Below are some points of interest.
Visit the town of Banff
Banff Avenue has an European feel. You’ll find several tourists from all over walking down the streets. There are hotels, shops, restaurants, a grocery store, and gas station.
Enjoy the Wildlife Sightings
I only saw chipmunks and moose.
The best way to visit Banff is by car. I rented from Avis via carrentals.com.
Total cost for 3 days was $65 CAD ($50 USD) for an Intermediate car. I was commuting from Calgary each day, which is 1.5 hours to the park entrance.
Other available options, which are limited, are:
- Train – departs from various cities in Canada including Calgary
- Bus Services
- Public transit from Calgary to Banff and around the park
- Entry fee to Banff National Park = $9.80 CAD ($7.66 USD) per adult
- The park is open all year round
- Hard-packed snow at low elevations may be slippery, but don’t be deterred! Consider renting some ice cleats or micro-spikes from a local gear store
- If you need bear spray, you can rent one from Wilson Mountain Sports
- As usual, bring water and snacks depending on how long and strenuous your hike will be.
- If you’re a US Citizen, no visa is required. Your passport is sufficient.
- To maximize time, it’s best to stay closer to the park or within the park.
Have you been to Banff? Name your favorite spot in Banff down below!