5 Can’t-Miss destinations in Banff National Park

By Emma Southard

Located in Alberta, Canada, Banff National Park is the oldest in Canada and stretches across the upper part of the Canadian Rockies. Whether you are an intense hiker or would rather take a short stroll or drive to see the sights, Banff has something for everyone to enjoy. Here are 5 great sights if you plan on visiting Banff National Park in the summer months! 

  1. Lake Louise – An absolute essential if you visit the park, Lake Louise is probably one of Banff’s most popular destinations. Whether you would like to just gaze at the lake or try one of the hikes around it, getting there around 6am is necessary to ensure a parking spot. The most popular trails for intermediate hikers who’d like a better view of the Rockies are the Plain of Six Glaciers, the Lake Agnes trail, and Consolation Lakes. If you decide to do the Lakes Agnes trail, make sure you stop by the Lake Agnes Tea House for a recharge and a great view!

2. Moraine Lake – If you plug “Banff National Park” into a search engine, a photo of Moraine Lake is usually what you will find. Southeast of Lake Louise, the lake is only unfrozen in the summer months and offers amazing photo ops. If you would like just a short walk for one, the Rockpile trail offers the “Twenty Dollar View.” However, for those who enjoy a longer or more challenging hike, the Eiffel Lake trail feeds off from Moraine Lake and is a 3 or 4 hour round trip. Arrive at sunrise or sunset in order to get a spot. 

3. Johnston Canyon and Ink Pots – A moderate hike, this spans about 7.5 miles and takes you to small, intensely colored pools, fondly referred to as “The Ink Pots.” Along the way, you will pass by Johnston Canyon, which is divided into the Upper and Lower Falls (and is equally spectacular!). The Ink Pots also have views of mountains and flower fields, and the trail is located along Bow Valley Parkway. Bow Valley Parkway is also a great scenic drive for those who would prefer to see the sights by car.

4. Peyto Lake – Sensing a lake-driven theme? Peyto Lake is a must-see – the water is indescribably green and incredibly accessible by car. It is located on the Icefields Parkway, another drive you should take time to do in Banff. There are better hikes along the Parkway than Peyto Lake, but it only takes a short while to get to the viewpoint and can easily be added to any daily itinerary. 

5. Norquay Lookout – At the top of the Norquay ski area, the Norquay lookout provides unforgettable views of the Canadian Rockies and the Bow Valley. You can choose to hike the Cascade Amphitheater trail or the Upper Stoney trail if you prefer sightseeing on foot, but Mount Norquay also offers a gondola that takes you straight to the top and provides the same views. 

Wherever you go and whatever you decide to do in Banff, these five destinations are some of the best the park has to offer. For more information on planning a trip to Banff, check out Banff National Park’s website.