A Canadian national treasure, Banff National Park encompasses 6,641 square kilometers of diverse terrain including snow-covered mountain peaks, turquoise waters, icefields and dense forest. Home to a portion of the famous Canadian Rockies, the surreal landscape leaves both first time and long time visitors in awe.

With so many significant sights, it’s no surprise this Canadian landmark attracts millions of tourists each year. Meshing magnificent scenery with activity, visitors can partake in several excursions that bring them even closer to the natural landscape. Though limited timing, combined with a considerable amount to see and do, can sometimes make it difficult to decide on what to include in your Banff trip itinerary. We are here to provide a few tips on some must-see sights for your next visit to Banff National Park.

Banff Avenue Banff Alberta

Take a Stroll along Banff Avenue

Whether you’re staying in the town of Banff or somewhere close by, spending some time walking along Banff Avenue should be an essential part of your itinerary. There are plenty of things to do on Banff Avenue, including visiting one of the many shops and restaurants. The nearby mountain range emphasizes the town’s scenic makeup. This main street in the Town of Banff grows busier by late afternoon, so those looking for an unhindered experience are encouraged to visit earlier in the day.

Lake Louise Banff Alberta

Rent a canoe and paddle the water at Lake Louise

Known for its glacier-fed, turquoise waters, Lake Louise is also surrounded by magnificent high peaks, making it postcard-photo-worthy. Beyond the large crowds snapping photos at the perimeter of the lake are many canoes on the water. Whether a beginner or someone more advanced, those of all skill levels can rent canoes to take out onto Lake Louise in the summer months. Though keep in mind that the lake only begins to thaw out around the beginning of June. Visitors can canoe from one end of the lake to the other in approximately one hour. The summer canoe season can be short-lived, but the excitement doesn’t stop there. The winter months also provide for unique experiences on the lake, including being able to walk across the frozen surface and ice-skating.

As one of the top sights in Banff National Park, paddling the water in a canoe, or simply staring out at the surrounding scenery of Lake Louise is a must upon any visit here. For those looking to spend more time at Lake Louise, feel free to pack a lunch and picnic at one of its many green spaces or hike to the Agnes Tea House for a warm beverage with a view.

Moraine Lake Banff Alberta

Hike the Rockpile Trail at Moraine Lake

Situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks at an elevation of around 1,884 meters, Moraine Lake is another glacier-fed body of water located in Banff National Park. As the glaciers continue to melt into the water over the summer months, the lake begins to turn a more intense, yet stunning shade of turquoise. Visitors of Moraine Lake can enjoy an abundance of activities that range from hiking, canoeing, kayaking or simply sitting by the water and admiring the jaw-dropping scenery. When looking to do some hiking in Banff National Park, the Rockpile Trail is of interest. This route is considered easy, and short, while the vista at the top is better known as the twenty-dollar view” since the outlook was featured on the back of twenty-dollar Canadian bills issued between 1969 and 1979

Wintertime visitors will not only enjoy similarly spectacular views, but they can also enjoy a 15-kilometer cross-country ski trail, set by Parks Canada. Located just 14 kilometers from Lake Louise, it is possible to visit Moraine Lake on the same day.

Capture stunning views atop Sulphur Mountain

Overlooking the Town of Banff, Sulphur Mountain is a part of the phenomenal Canadian Rocky Mountain landscape. As you begin your ascent to the summit, in the year-round gondola, you will notice the fresh, yet sometimes chilly air. As you continue to move higher up the mountain, which sits at an approximate elevation of 2,451 meters, observing the ground below reveals lakes, rivers, and of course, the Town of Banff. On its lower slopes are two sulfur hot springs, while 360-degree views open to six mountain ranges, including the Bow Valley. For those looking for a bit of a challenge, skip the gondola and hike the mountain. Once you arrive at the summit ridge, relax by enjoying on-site restaurants, observation decks, and historical explanations. 

Potential visitors may also be interested to know that between 1956 and 1957, the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was built on-site to study cosmic rays. This was part of the International Geophysical Year initiative. Now considered a National Historic Site of Canada visitors to Sulphur Mountain can visit the station where a plaque marks its location.

Experience a Scenic Drive Along the Icefields Parkway

Perhaps one of the most unique things to do in Banff is drive through the National Park and stop at many of its amazing viewpoints. The Icefields Parkway, however, is the ultimate driving experience. Starting from the Town of Banff, travel the approximate 227 kilometers of highway until you reach the Town of Jasper. This isn’t to be mistaken with your typical commute and what you will witness along the way will certainly blow your mind. Wildlife, massive glaciers, and towering mountains are the norm on this route.

Some of the most significant points of interest along the way include Bow Lake and the Columbia Icefield, though as nature reveals its true beauty, you will likely be making many more stops along the way. There is no surprise that it was recognized as one of National Geographic’s fifty drives of a lifetime.

Interested in spending time in the biggest city nearby? Visit Calgary and some of its main attractions before you end your trip.

Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn & Suites South in Calgary, AB for their suggestions.

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