Banff National Park and Lake Louise go way beyond the trendy Instagram pictures they’ve
become known for. Banff is a veritable outdoor wonderland. There are almost more scenic
outlooks and outdoorsy activities than any one person can keep track of! But when you’re
there, you’ll want to make the most of your trip and see as much of it as you can.
The good news is that so many of the major sites are super close to each other, so even if you
only have one day to spare, you can have a bit of a “sampler” experience of the area’s many
wonders. Here’s how to have a perfect day in Banff.
Start Early At Lake Louise
Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful sites you’ll ever see – and subsequently, it might be
one of the most photographed spots in the country. This means that no matter when you go,
you’re likely to run into tons of other visitors. Make this easier on yourself by going there first
thing in the morning, so you’re more likely to beat the day’s peak crowds.
Then Hop Onto The Bow Valley Parkway
Plenty of people travel between Lake Louise and Banff on the Trans Canada Highway, but the
Bow Valley Parkway is the alternative route you’ll love. On the opposite side of the Bow River
from the highway, the Parkway has all kinds of scenic viewpoints and nature-filled views.
Make A Stop At Johnston Canyon
A quintessential part of the Banff experience, Johnston Canyon is gorgeous hiking area flanked
by natural limestone cliffs. Visitors can hike along a catwalk in the middle of the canyon and
gaze out at waterfalls. There are multiple hiking options for every level of difficulty and time
limit. You’ve got a lot to fit in today, so do one of the shorter 30-minute or so hikes to get a
quick overview of the magic.
Take A Ride On The Mount Norquay Chairlift
If time and weather allows, make a stop at Mt. Norquay Chairlift. The lift will take you 7,000
feet up the mountain for one of the most stunning views of Banff around. Take in the
panoramic views around you – and keep an eye out for bears on the ground below!
Then Venture To Surprise Corner
Surprise Corner lives up to its name. At this lookout, you’ll get a sweeping view of the rushing
waters and the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs hotel across the way.
Grab A Bite At Fairmont Banff Springs
The Fairmont is something of a tourist favorite at Banff, but its beauty (and great food) makes it
worth braving the crowds. Sit down for a drink at the Ramsay Lounge. They have a full Italian
menu at the bar, so you can order a delicious lunch while you’re at it.
Explore The Hoodoos Trail
The Hoodoos Trail is home to a series of incredible rock pillars. The pillars are actually leftover
from glaciers, and were molded into the funky shapes they are now over several centuries.
These otherworldly formations are not to be missed.
Hit Up Lake Minnewanka
The scenic loop around Lake Minnewanka is a gorgeous site – and there are all kinds of
surprises beneath the lake’s surface. Back in the late 19 th century, there was a resort town
called Minnwanka Landing in the spot where the lake is today. A flood in 1912, along with the
building of a new dam in 1941, rendered the town waterlogged. Today, the stands deep
beneath the surface of the lake, preserved by the icy water. Extra adventurous explorers can
take a scuba dive tour through the underwater ghost town.
Take A Long Rest Cascade Of Time Garden
If you still have any energy left in you, make one more stop. Head to the town of Banff, but
instead of hitting up the crowded shops on Banff Avenue, make your way off the beaten path to
the Cascade of Time Garden. This calming spot is the perfect place to unwind after a day of
adventure. Sink down onto a bench to relax. A day of adventure well done.