About * Directions * Hours * Admission* Accommodation * Places to See & Things to do
Spread over 6,641 sq. km along the magnificent Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is located in Alberta, a prairie province of Canada. Banff National Park with its snow-capped mountains, ethereally coloured glacial lakes and abundant wildlife is a must visit place, recommended by all travel gurus.
Banff was established as a National Park in 1885, and is Canada’s oldest national park.
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How to get to Banff National Park?
Location : Alberta, Canada
Nearest Big City: Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Nearest Airport : Calgary International Airport (YYC)
By Train: The only way you can get directly to Banff by train is to travel on Rocky Mountaineer (Luxury trip). Via Rail gets you to Jasper and then you will have to drive to Banff. Train travel is a good option if you are coming from Vancouver.
Click the below links for directions to Banff on Google Maps.
1. From Vancouver ~ 900 km
2. From Whistler ~ 800 km
3. From Edmonton ~ 420 km
4. From Regina ~ 900 km
5. From Seattle ~ 600 miles
6. From Great Falls, MT ~ 400 miles
Banff National Park attractions are spread over three main areas,
in and around Banff Town,
around Lake Louise
and along Icefields Parkway.
Banff National Park can be accessed by car through
1. Main entry gate (East Gate) at the mainline westbound lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway.
2. Highway 93 (Banff – Windmere Parkway-Bow Valley Parkway ( 1A) )
3. TransCanada Hihghway – Bow Valley Parkway / Lake Louise Dr near Lake Louise town.
Getting around in Banff National Park.
It is best to have a car, if you want to visit all the places whenever you like.
Public transit – Roam will get you to many Banff Town attractions. But, you still need a car to visit Vermilion Lakes, Lake Minnewanka, Bow Valley Parkway & Lake Louise attractions.
If you are planning to go on scheduled / ticketed activities, the organizers may provide complimentary transport. If you are in Banff for winter, and visiting all three ski resorts, complimentary transport is provided from many locations.
Tour operators like Brewster, Sun Dog tours also provide transit packages which include many Banff attractions.
When to visit & time required to visit Banff National Park?
An year round travel destination, Banff is a great visit any time time of the year, but if you are not a winter enthusiast, Banff is at its best from Mid June to Mid October.
Peak tourist season is, of course, the summer months of July & August. Fall season paints Banff National Park with a Golden hue and the hikes to see the Larch trees in Fall is another experience altogether. Banff is a paradise for winter enthusiasts and you are guaranteed to have a White Christmas here.
Time required to visit
How much time to allocate for your Banff trip, may very well depend on your budget and interests. It is good, if you can allocate, at least two days to spend in Banff & Lake Louise. You need to spend 5 days, to SEE & DO the real Banff : like hiking and canoeing in summer & Skiing and Snowboarding in winter.
How much does it cost to enter Banff National Park?
Banff National Park Entry Fees
2017: Park Admission is free for 2017. You still need to buy the free pass at the gate or online.
You also need to pay for all campsites and other services.
The following is applicable for 2018. (Fees might vary)
One day Pass – Valid until 4:00 PM the next day.
Adult (17 – 64) :$ 9.80
Senior (65 +) :$ 8.30
Youth (6 – 16) :$ 4.90
Family/Group (Up to 7 people arriving in a single vehicle): $ 19.60
If you have two vehicles – you need 2 passes, one for each vehicle.
There are other fees like camping fees, fishing license etc if you are planning to do these activities inside the park. Few attractions like museums & Hot Springs charge additional admission fees. See the attractions page (links below) for details.
If you are planning to stay on for a few days (7 +) , consider buying Discovery Pass ($ 136.40 for up to 7 people arriving in a single vehicle) – This pass is good for a year and gets you into nearly 100 National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites in Canada.
Where to buy the Parks Canada – Banff National Park Entry Pass?
Available at entry gates, Parks Canada Visitor Information centres, and Online. Discovery pass can be bought online and will be mailed out internationally.
Discovery Passes can be bought from AMA locations and members save 8%.
One Day Pass – Online
Where to stay in Banff National Park?
Where to stay depends on how long you are planning to spend in Banff and where you plan to concentrate your activities. Remember that, distance between Lake Louise / Moraine Lake to Banff Gondola / Lake Minnewanka / Banff Town is approximately ~ 60 km . Peyto Lake (Best visited enroute to Jasper National Park) in Icefields Parkway is another ~ 44 km North from Lake Louise.
Like to stay put throughout your vacation? – Choose accommodation in either Banff Town or near Lake Louise. Choose Banff Town, if you are planning to go on day trips into Yoho & Kootenay National Park.
Just a day and not venturing into Jasper National Park – Calgary. Banff is just couple of hours away.
Two days and more – In Banff town or Lake Louise town – depending on where you are planning your activities.
Town of Canmore, a destination on its own, provides cheaper accommodations, if one is willing to drive half an hour (Banff Town) to one hour (Lake Louise) every day to enjoy National Park attractions. One may also use, public transport from Canmore to travel to Banff Town.
See here for B&B, hotels, Lodges and other options in Banff National Park.
What to do at Banff National Park?
An entry in all published lists of Top Places to Visit in the World, Banff National Park offers its guests activities galore and a feast for ones senses. Scuba dive, Snow shoe, Canoe, watch wildlife or just revel in nature’s beauty!
Listed below are the attractions and places to visit in Banff.
One day itineraries are also given, if you don’t have time / many days to spare. Have more days, split the itinerary and add the activities like hiking, canoeing mentioned at each attraction.
Click on each attraction listed below to get a comprehensive guide for the Banff attraction/place of interest which has all the answers for What, When, Were, How to do things in Banff including hikes, and other activities, admission, hours, directions, amenities & accessibility.
Banff Area Attractions
View Banff National Park- Banff Area in a larger map
Lake Louise Area Attractions
View Banff Attractions – Lake Louise Area in a larger map
Also see Icefields Parkway which traverses both Banff & Jasper National Park.
Things to do in Banff National Park