Epic Banff National Park Travel Guide: Hikes, Stays, Wildlife, & More

touring in Canada and not visiting the nation's first nation...

touring in Canada and not visiting the nation's first national park you'd be better off staying at home check out the amazing experiences waiting for you in Canada welcome back to wonderfully lost your home for all things travel today we're taking you on a journey into the northern Wilderness with breathtaking views and an opportunity to become one with nature and that's Banff National Park Canada let's go number one Moraine Lake no trip to Banff is complete without a hike to Moraine Lake where the 10 Peaks stretch into the sky if you really want to get the full Moraine Lake experience you can stay at the lakeside hotel and wake up before the crack of dawn for a peaceful canoe ride there are hikes and walks Galore around Moraine Lake the rock pile Trail is a must do leading you to the illustrious 20 view it's like getting paid to hike fed by glacier water Moraine Lake has a stunning blue shade that'll have you mesmerized from the moment you reach it the lake is surrounded by pine trees with Majestic mountains at a stone's throw making the overall view good enough to be etched in your memories for years to come number two Lake Louise if you're in the mood to spend a few hours it goes without saying that like Louise should be on your itinerary a glacier-fed lake with towering mountains in the distance it's a go-to for every traveler you can take a cruise in the lake and let the pristine Waters surround you as you breathe in the crisp fresh air the surrounding Hills also give you an opportunity to hike around the lake and there are options for all sorts of Adventures like sightseeing swimming and more the most well known of these is the hike to Agnes Treehouse which is a short two-hour hike and quite busy all year round filled with picturesque and dreamy views along the way you won't feel bored for a second while hiking here with your friends and family the stop at Agnes is one to experience and you'll need to get there early to get a spot bask in Nature's Glory while sipping on a hot cup of tea and taking in the beauty that's been preserved for hundreds of years number three Johnston Canyon Trail this is one of the most well-known trails in the park and for a good reason the trail goes along a tributary called Johnston Creek and deep through an ancient Mountain Canyon where you get to experience the wonders of the mountains from the inside you'll walk above the floating River and get to enjoy stunning waterfalls and maybe get to see the occasional elk gazing at you from the Wilderness the soothing sound of water crashing onto the rocks low will accompany you as you Traverse the Canyon's multiple Trails but don't stop there push yourself to the Limit and make the Trek to the ink pots these enchanting pools surrounded by Lush Meadows and fed by Spring Water create a picturesque view that you won't want to miss number four plane of the six glaciers Trail prepare to have your breath taken away at the plane of the six glaciers a true showstopper that boasts some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in all of Banff with the Towering Rockies as your backdrop you can soak up the Lakeside trails and bask in the natural Mountain Amphitheater that surrounds you and the Pista resistance the icy glaciers of banffa within Arm's Reach where you can witness the sound of ice cracking and watch as these Majestic Giants slowly break away before your very eyes are truly Unforgettable experience after your Trek be sure to stop by the plane of six glaciers tea house for some well-deserved Refreshments so you can fuel up for your next Adventure number five big beehive Trail the big beehive trail near Lake Louise is a must do for any nature lover and once you experience it you will understand what the hype is all about you'll start with a moderate uphill hike through the Lush Forest then take a peaceful Lakeshore stroll before embarking on a challenging Switchback climb to the top of big beehive the mountains that make up the little and big bee hive are like no other with their honeycomb-like shapen awe-inspiring size and don't worry you won't need to swat away any giant bees from the top you'll get a bird's eye view of Lake Louise the resort and even Mount Fairview and the best part the trail connects to other jaw-dropping hikes so the adventure doesn't have to stop there number six the town of Banff besides the natural beauty of the Wilderness the town of Banff itself is a wondrous sight the moment you enter town you won't ever Miss City Life Again the quaint town will have you thinking you're in a movie where you can sip a cup of hot coffee while gazing at the beautiful mountains in the backdrop of the Town Bamford cell elf is home to several different attractions such as numerous independent coffee shops and pubs getting a taste of finely brewed coffee on a crisp morning will breed new life into you as you relax and get ready for your next bout around the town and if you're into shopping then banned for won't disappoint Banff Avenue and Bear Street are the town's most well-known shopping areas lined with shops selling everything from hiking gear to Canadian souvenirs and memorabilia make sure you get a few to remember your trip and if you're a history nut then head on down to one of the numerous museums in Banff which house the history and culture of the area dating back thousands of years some of our favorites are the white Museum the Walter Phillips gallery and the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site you might be wondering hey how am I going to get the most out of my trip well that's why we've outlined the things you must do on your trip to Banff number 7. rafting Banff has some of the best white water rafting sites to give you that Rush of Adventure and adrenaline that every trip should have the most well-known sights are the kananesque's river and the Horseshoe Canyon both of which give you a stellar experience of True Canadian nature you'll feel a cold when icy water splashes around you as you go zooming down the Rapids with the crisp Canadian Air hitting you in full force at every turn and paddle looking around you'll see the surrounding mountain ranges that make rafting here so amazing so remember to keep this as a priority on your list number eight Gondola rides if you're a fan of heights then the gondola rides at Banff National are a must view the Grandeur of the whole park and the entirety of the mountain ranges from 7000 feet as the gondola gives you a tour of the Canadian Rockies you'll get to see sulfur mountain and the numerous lakes that Banff has to offer you also get to enjoy delicious locally inspired Cuisine with Sky Bistro who locally Source meals to give you the authentic Banff experience so dine and take in the view once you're on the Gondola number 9. the wildlife Bamford National Park is home to over 300 species of birds 19 species of fish and over 50 species of mammals while you're on your Trek make sure to keep an eye out for the different animals you'll encounter in your time in Banff Majestic alcara common sight in Banff and they don't shy away from visitors you might have a couple of them walk up to your car to take a gander you'll get to see bighorn sheep and they love posing for pictures and the main Wildlife attractions are the black and grizzly bears iconic animals and true symbols of strength remember to give them plenty of space and maintain your distance when you encounter any in the wild overall Banff is home to some of the most Exquisite sites that nature can provide with Majestic mountains stunning Lakes stunning attractions and experiences that you'll never have anywhere else thanks for wandering with us if you enjoyed this video make sure to check out our video on the Yellowstone National Park see you there [Music]

You CANNOT miss Banff National Park when vacationing in Canada! 

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, this oldest Canadian National Park is at the top of many outdoor enthusiasts’ bucket lists!.

Welcome back to Wanderfully Lost, your home for parent travel planning, with or without the kids!

In this ultimate travel guide, we’ll explore the magnificent landscapes of Banff, surely leaving you yearning for more of this treasured landscape.

Whether you want to enjoy the tranquility this place offers or spend your days chasing the highs of adrenaline, Banff National Park provides the perfect blend of impeccable adventures and a serene environment. 

Be sure to check out our BANFF travel planning resources at the end, and if your time on our site is as WANDERFUL as we hope, we’d be super thrilled to have you share this post with your fellow wanderers.

Discovering Canada’s Oldest National Park

Must-Visit Hiking Trails

Banff National Park Hiking Trail

Banff National Park boasts a plethora of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. The trails offer a remarkable opportunity for hiking, sightseeing, and just being completely in touch with nature. It’s one of the most memorable activities in Banff. So, gear up, lace up your boots, and let the stunning beauty of these trails captivate you.

But never hit the trails without our WANDERFUL HIKING KIT!

Johnston Canyon Trail

Banff National Park Johnston Canyon Trail

This one is for people who have a flair for drama combined with adventure. The trail starts with a sturdy iron bridge. As you walk across it, you’ll be amazed by the stunning turquoise canyon below. The waterfalls surrounding the trail of mountains add more to the theatrics of the hike.

The best part is, even with all the farce attached to it, Johnston Canyon is a pretty easy hike. 

The trail starts approximately 25 km from the town of Banff. It can be accessed through multiple lodges that surround the canyon. 

The hike follows the natural path created by Johnston Creek. It’s a pretty easy climb from there to the Upper Falls. As you climb, you will see how the narrow canyon is adorned with gorgeous limestone cliffs and stunning waterfalls. 

If you are hiking during winter, don’t forget ice cleats since it gets pretty icy.

Lake Agnes Tea House

Banff Lake Agnes Tea House

Deemed one of the most beautiful spots for tea and brunch, the Lake Agnes Tea House is settled between the Rocky Mountains and easily accessible from the nearby Lake Agnes town. 

The trail starts from a paved path in town that takes you to the shore of Lake Louise. The lake is surrounded by thick, dense forest and the hiking trail isn’t as strenuous as you might think. 

Climbing up the forest, we can reach Mirror Lake. Popular for clear waters that reflect back the scenic beauty of forests and mountains, it’s one of the most ethereal places in Banff. We recommend taking a break here and just soaking in the beauty of the lake.

As you move further upwards, you’ll come across the decades-old tea house that still serves tea today. This cozy and rustic tea house perched on top of Alpine Lake is a historical place that stands strong as a testament to its history and classical architecture.

Here, you can sit comfortably and sip your tea while taking in the panoramic views of the pristine forest and majestic lakes nearby.

Sulphur Mountain Trail

Banff Sulphur Mountain Trail

Standing at an elevation of more than 8000 ft, Sulphur Mountain is every hiker’s favorite trail. It’s a challenging trail, but a true hiker never shies away from a challenge.

As you descend down the trail, you’ll come across the alpine meadows. You will also notice various kinds of plants, trees, wildlife and geological features that give Banff its luster.

To reach the summit, travelers can also take up the Gondola lift that ascends from the base of the mountains towards the summit. The ride offers stunning views of the forest and the valley below.

The summit is a whole other experience itself. From the observation deck that offers views of Mount Rundle, Bow Valley, and the rest of Banff to the mountain boardwalk, the scenery is breathtaking. Once you have enjoyed these views, you can even grab a bite to eat at the Sky Bistro.

Popular Things To Do In Banff National Park

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing in Banff National Park

The exhilarating sport of rock climbing seems dangerous and that’s exactly why thrill seekers love it!

The thrill that comes when the guide is harnessing you, the adrenaline rush with every upwards step, and the views of the surrounding park make the activity truly unforgettable. 

There are multiple mountains with rock climbing facilities. Whether you want to climb the tunnel-less tunnel mountain or challenge yourself through the many pitches of Cascade Mountain, you will find local guides that will help you through the entire process. 

Try your hand at rock climbing here!


Skiing in Banff National Park

The frozen valleys of Banff National Park are a favorite activity for all you winter loving wanderers. But, do you know what’s better than just touring through the canyons and icy waterfalls? Skiing!

The park is surrounded by dozens of ski resorts that offer various activities including snowboarding and skiing. You can easily find all the necessary equipment from neighboring rental shops and get ready for once in a lifetime adventure.

Water Sports

Kayaking in the waters of Banff

If you aren’t in the mood to move through ice or climb up a rock, then maybe you’ll find yourself craving the waters of Banff. At Banff, wherever you turn, you can find countless water activities at your disposal. You can either experience the excitement of whitewater rafting and stand-up paddleboarding or peacefully explore the lake through canoeing, the choice is all yours. 

Enjoy A Spa Day

Verde Day Spa In Banff National Park

When your muscles are sore from the countless outdoor activities, the spa resorts are the place to go. The town of Banff boasts numerous wellness centers and resorts that offer a variety of rejuvenation services. Surrounded by mountains and lakes, spruce and canyons, there is no better place for a spa day to nourish your body and your soul.

Spot Iconic Canadian Wildlife

Bear Roaming Around Banff National Park

Banff National Park is renowned for its iconic wildlife. More than a national park, it is a sanctuary and protected habitat for tons of species. You can easily spot elk or deer wandering through the park, drinking from lakes and grazing grass in open meadows. 

For people who are scared of bears, this is a warning that Banff is full of them. Black bears and grizzly bears can be found near the forests and in areas where berry bushes are in abundance. They may not be as scary as people make them out to be, but they are not Pooh. Our advice is to observe from a safe distance. 

The park is filled with numerous sub-species of birds too. With more than 280 bird species, it’s a haven for bird watchers. You can also find wolves, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.

Accommodations And Dining

Dining in Banff National Park

Accommodations and dining in Banff are quite easy to find. The town comprises many resorts, hotels, lodges, and restaurants that cater to a variety of preferences and budgets.  

Banff Centre For Arts And Creativity

Banff Centre for Arts

Located at 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff Centre for Arts hosts two hotels to cater to tourists and visitors. With free WiFi, parking, and entry to the Art gallery, it’s one of the most sought-after places for a short stay. It provides a variety of amenities including a fitness center, a business center, and a bar. On top of that, their room service is excellent too. 

Fairmont Banff Springs

Fairmont Banff Springs

Perfect for a romantic getaway, this hotel is nestled in the heart of the Alpine town of Banff. The luxurious resort offers magnificent suites with free internet, parking, and air conditioning. You can also get on-demand movies for the nights you want to stay in. You can find the best rates for Fairmont Banff Springs here.

The Rimrock Resort

The Rimrock Resort Banff National Park

The four-diamond hotel in the Canadian Rockies is one of the most glamorous ones in the area. Apart from lavish family rooms decorated with plush sofas, comfortable beds, and a balcony, it also comprises several other amenities. The resort provides fine dining, a luxury spa, and a workout room. 

Cafes And Restaurants

Banff National Park Culinary Scene

The park provides a diverse culinary scene with cuisine from all over the world. Whether you are in the mood for Chinese, local dishes, fast food, or fine dining, just walk across town and you will find what you are looking for. 

Banff National Park is a cornucopia of great food, thrilling activities, and scenic beauty. Every step you take within the town of Banff or the trails in the park are filled with remarkable opportunities for a good time. 

From the highs and lows of the mountains to the tranquility of the lakes, from the peaceful meadows to the deep canyons, this place is alive with the emotions and excitement of the millions of tourists that vacation here every year. We are sure you’ll get lost in Banff’s vibes, beauty, and countless activities.   


For the most cost efficient flights to and from Banff, always book through our friends at WayAway.

Find rental cars for exploring the park through our friends at RENTALCARS

Looking for a place all to yourself? Use our VRBO tool to find your perfect vaca home!

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