Date of Visit: July 22-23 and 27-30, 2019
How we got there: Drove from Radium Hot Springs, just under two hours from Radium to Banff direct.
- Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots – We made an 8 mile ( km) out-and-back route to the Ink Pots, but shorter hikes can be made to just the Lower Falls or Upper Falls. The trail follows Johnston Creek through a steep and twisting canyon on metal catwalks above the water. Beyond Upper Falls, it climbs through forest and then descends into a broad mountain-ringed valley. Tranquil “Ink Pots” dot the valley floor in varying hues of blue-green water.
- Tunnel Mountain Summit – This somewhat steep, 3 mile (4.8 km) out-and-back trail is accessible from downtown Banff. The summit provides nearly 360 degree views of the town of Banff, the Bow River Valley and Mount Rundle.
- Cave and Basin National Historic Site – Mineral hot springs at the edge of Banff that mark the birthplace of Canada’s national park system. Attractions include the natural cave, restored historic buildings and interpretive displays on the history of Parks Canada.
- Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies – Great museum featuring art, local culture and historical artifacts from the Canadian Rockies region.
- Moraine Lake – Popular glacial lake with intensely blue water. Located about 9 miles (15km) from Lake Louise village and campground.
- Lake Louise, Lake Agnes, Plain of Six Glaciers Hike – Many hiking options depart from the area right by the Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise. We made a 12.25 mile hike by linking the Lake Agnes, Big Beehive, Highline and Plain of Six Glaciers trails. The terrain varies from a gentle climb on a wide trail to Lake Agnes, followed by a steep climb up and over the Beehive. After joining the Highline trail, it’s a gradual ascent to a Teahouse, a great lunch stop. Beyond the Teahouse, the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail follows the ridge of a rocky moraine to a stunning view of a glacier pouring down from Abbot Pass on the Continental Divide. The return trip is all downhill.
- Peyto Lake Overlook – On the morning we headed north on the Icefields Parkway toward Jasper National Park, we made a quick stop at the Peyto Lake overlook. A short walk leads through the woods to a panorama that is one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen (see photo above).
Tips: Banff is a huge park, so it can be best to divide it up and visit in sections. We first spent time in and around the town of Banff, and later spent three nights in the Lake Louise area. Lake Louise is the best base for visiting Yoho National Park.
Arrive at destinations very early if you want to avoid crowds. We arrived at the Lake Louise parking lot at 7:00 am and it was filled shortly after that. We visited Moraine Lake at 9:00 pm in order to be allowed down the road. Unfortunately transit routes are not much help, so most everyone ends up driving everywhere.
Local Dining: The Bison Amazing seasonal/local food in the heart of Banff.
Local Drinking: Banff Avenue Brewing Large brewery right on the main drag with great beer and good, casual dining. Also sells to-go beer for camping.
Next time: Hike to Rockbound Lake, Fairview Mountain, Consolation Lakes. Visit in winter. You could spend months in Banff and not run out of things to do…