Banff is one of the most beautiful National Parks in Canada. It was established in 1885 and is the oldest and most popular park in Canada. It’s the perfect getaway if you’re looking for breathtaking mountain scenery and epic hiking trails.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN BANFF
Currency: The currency used is the Canadian dollar. However, they do accept the American dollar. If you’re looking to use your credit card, most places only accept Mastercard. Very rarely do places accept Visa.
Summer Peak Season: The summer months are peak season in Banff. From June to August, the lakes are at their best and the weather is perfect for all the outdoor activities. Just remember to bring a rain jacket! Be prepared for crowds as well. Book your reservations and hotels in advance and always plan to arrive to your destination early since parking is limited.
WHERE TO CAMP IN BANFF
There are many amazing campgrounds to choose from within the park. Most are open from May through early October. It is advised to camp in a campground opposed to disperse camping, due to wildlife. Make sure you have your Discovery Pass to enter the national park and campground reservations are highly recommended.
Recommended Campground: Two Jack Lake – Main Campground
WHERE TO HIKE IN BANFF
The Plain of Six Glaciers // is physically challenging, but was one of our favorite hikes. This moderately, strenuous hike begins on the right side of Lake Louise. A steady uphill climb offers breathtaking views surrounding mountains and glaciers. A little more than half-way through the hike, stop at the Teahouse for a snack. Cash is preferred or they will charge you a fee to use your credit card. From the teahouse, you can walk another 30 minutes for a better view of the Victoria Glaciers. (moderate/strenuous, 4.5 mile out-and-back hike, 1,263 ft elevation gain)
Experience Johnston Canyon // This family-friendly “hike” is one of the most popular in Banff. The hike itself is on a paved path, with a medal fence between you and the canyon, which is fairly crowded all the time.
If you do not like large crowds, this is not the hike for you. There are several options for this hike depending on how far you are willing to go.
This is the first part of the trail, which is paved and climbs gradually through the forest. It takes you over the catwalks that are molded in the cliffs. (easy, 0.5 miles)
Continue one more mile to the Upper Falls. This half of the hike has a bit more incline. (easy/moderate, 1.5 miles)
Continue about two more miles, you will notice that most of the crowd will disappear now, leading you to the cold mineral springs and creek. (moderate, 8 miles around trip, 1,994 ft elevation gain)
Helen Lake // This by far was our favorite hike. Initially head through the woods, this incline was the hardest part of the trail. After about 45 minutes of hiking, you will be rewarded with a jaw dropping view of the Crowsnest Glacier. Continuing up the valley on a mostly gentle grade.
During the summer, you will be greeted by a mixture of wildflowers.
Cross the Helen Creek, which is a gorgeous flow of water that passes right down the middle of the valley, you will then continue on to Helen Lake.
Lake Louise // The lake is framed by a stunning mountain backdrop which includes Mount Victoria and Mount Victoria Glacier. Lake Louise gets its vibrant turquoise colors from rock flower carried into the lake by glacier runoff. There is a paved path that goes around the lake and connects to the other multiple hiking trails that lead up into the mountains.
Moraine Lake // This lakes color is most intense after the glacier begins to melt in early summer. Catch the sunrise or sunset here. Be sure to arrive early. The parking lot is very small and becomes crowded quickly.
Bow Lake // One of the largest lakes in Banff. Fed by meltwater from the Bow Glacier. The lake lies at the base of Bow Summit, which is perfectly reflected in its aquamarine waters on a calm day. Take a dip if you dare! The lake stays around 37 degrees F in the summer months.