About * Directions * Hours * Admission* Accommodation * Places to See & Things to do * Events * Guided Tours
About Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
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 Bus: On-it Regional Transit gets you to Banff (Elk Street, Banff Train Station) and Canmore from Calgary(Somerset / Bridlewood LRT/ Downtown, Crowfoot LRT)from late June to September end, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Once in Banff / Canmore your On-It ticket gets you free transfers to the Roam Bus Banff Local routes.
There are various private airport transfers (shared and private ~$75 & up) available through tour operators like Brewster Canada and Banff Airporter. See here all options.
By Train: The only way you can get directly to Banff by train is to travel on Rocky Mountaineer (Luxury trip).Via Railgets 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 driving directions to Banff on Google Maps.
Banff National Park attractions are spread over three main areas,
in and around Banff Town,
around Lake Louise
and alongIcefields 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 Highway – Bow Valley Parkway / Lake Louise Dr near Lake Louise town.
Getting around in Banff National Park.
You can visit all places without a car using a combination of Roam Transit, and Parks Canada Lake Shuttle. During high season, parking will be difficult, but in low season, it is best to have a car, if you want to visit all the places whenever you like.
Public transit – Roamwill get you to many Banff Town attractions, Lake Minnewanka and more routes are being added to reduce car traffic.
IMPORTANT: As number of visitors are increasing, most probably you will not find parking at Lake Louise andMoraine Lake.Park your car at the overflow parking lot and then take the Parks Canada shuttle to these locations. From 2020, reservations are required for the shuttle from the overflow parking lot to visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Reservations open on April 1, 2020.
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.
Hop on Hop Off Banff Buswhich will take you to sites in Banff Town, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise Gondola, Lake Louise, and Lake Moraine from ~June to October.
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 – 2020
One day Pass– Valid until 4:00 PM the next day.
Adult (18 – 64) :$ 10
Senior (65 +) :$ 8.40
Youth (6 – 17) :Free
Family/Group (Up to 7 people arriving in a single vehicle): $ 20
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. The day pass provides entry to Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Waterton Lakes and Elk Island national parks.
If you are planning to stay on for a few days (7 +) , consider buying Discovery Pass ($ 139.40 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 $10.($129.40).
You can also buy Discovery Pass, via Trip Advisor (Viator).
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 herefor B&B, hotels, Lodges and other options in Banff National Park.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CANNABIS CONSUMPTION IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Rules might change from what is stated below and you should be aware of current bylaws by Parks Canada/Govt. of Canada/Alberta/Town of Banff .
Public Cannabis consumption is legal in Canada. Public use is allowed in Banff National Park at
— Registered Parks Canada campsites
— Backcountry, Trails
— Allowed in public areas within the Lake Louise town boundary
— No smoking or vaping within 5 metres of buildings
— Not allowed in Campground common areas ( such as playgrounds, kitchen shelters, washrooms, trails, or roads.)
— No smoking or vaping within 5 metres of playgrounds
— Not allowed in public areas within the Banff town boundary.
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, events, festivals 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.