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Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper Attractions


Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper are great Canadian Rockies destinations. We hope you will come and visit this beautiful part of Canada. While not covering everything, here are some suggestions on attractions and transportation which could make your visit more enjoyable! We have added a link to many of them. We have also added "Getting around," which should make your visit easier.

Plan Ahead!

Take the time to plan your visit. One full day of sightseeing usually takes at least two nights of accommodation. Like other National Parks in Canada, hotel and camping space can be in short supply during the spring, summer and fall. Take out a map of the area and note the different areas, attractions and hikes. Attractions may require you to wait to purchase your tickets unless you have pre-booked tickets. Some even give you a discount when you purchase admission in advance.

If you have problems obtaining hotel space in Banff, don’t forget "Canmore", about 20 minutes east of Banff. There are frequent public transit buses between Canmore and Banff.

If you want to see the major attractions in Banff, get to them early before their parking lots fill up or arrive "late." The attraction may direct you to an overflow parking lot. In the summer, sunlight extends well into the evening. For today's Banff’s sunset, please click here with twilight continuing for about an hour. For today’s real-time parking in Banff,  click here or here. For real-time parking outside Banff for the Banff Lake Louise areas, click here .

Getting Here

  • If travelling from Calgary, budget a two-hour drive from Calgary to Banff and three hours from Calgary to Lake Louise.
  • Our suggestion from the Calgary Airport is to take an express bus or a chauffeur sedan to/from Banff or Canmore. The Sedan service will take you to your hotel in Canmore or Banff. The scheduled service drops/pickups are at the Coast Canmore Hotel but will take you to any address/hotel in Banff.
  • There are also express buses or chauffeur sedans to/from Lake Louise
  • In Banff and Canmore, you have motorcoach tours, car rentals or public transit. In downtown Banff, most sites are within walking distance.
  • You do not really need a car with the public Roam Transit Service. Roam Transit has day passes: i.e. CAD$5.00 Adult/CAD$2.50 Senior for a Banff-Canmore, Lake Minnewanka Pass. Canmore’s Route #5 no charge within Canmore to 31 Dec. 2019!). A day pass is also available from Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise for CAD$25.00 Adult/$12.50 Senior). Check the Roam link for full details. Check the Roam link for times and dates of the service!

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Possible Suggestions: The attractions' information is shown below and can be taken in any order. You can also spend two to three days seeing all the sites :

Day #1 Walk Banff

  • Purchase the Roam Transit day pass or walk thru downtown Banff. You do not need a car.
  • Banff Park Museum National Historical Site,. Canada’s oldest natural history museum..
  • Banff Indian Trading Post Indian crafts and trinkets with the "Merman" (Copenhagen has the Mermaid).South of Banff Avenue, across the traffic bridge and turn right.
  • Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, is located behind the Indian Trading Post. A great museum of the Plain Indians during the 19th century.
  • Cascade of Time Gardens , across the bridge and straight ahead, These gardens are seasonal by the Administration Building. Some of the Garden’s pictures.
  • Bow Falls is a short walk along the Bow River roadway from the Cascade Gardens, the Luxton Museum or the Indian Trading Post. Walk along the road by the Bow River to the Falls, just below the Banff Springs Hotel or walk down to the falls from the hotel.
  • For lunch try the Banff Springs Hotel restaurants/coffee shop or their Walderhaus Pub, which is on the way up to the hotel from the falls.
  • The Banff Springs Hotel is a must see and should be visited. 
  • Banff Cave and Basin Historical Site Canada’s National Park birthplace is on the Roam Transit route.
  • Banff Gondola - Suggest a late afternoon or early evening visit. Take the Roam Transit or a taxi to the Gondola station. The service takes guests to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Reservations, usually with a discount, are suggested as the ‘line for tickets" can belong.
  • Banff Gondola also has a dinner package with a lift. They have several family/children discounts depending on the time of day when booking in advance.
  • Canoes can be rented on the Bow River or into the Vermillion Lakes.
  • If you have a car, you may wish to take an evening drive around the Banff Springs Golf Course or along the shore of the Vermilion Lakes to view possible wildlife.

Extra Days Banff

Day #2 Banff Lake Louise

Lake Louise & Moraine Lake Parking!

If you are a summer visitor to Lake Louise consider the ‘overflow’ parking lot about 5.5. kms east of Lake Louise Junction on the Trans-Canada Highway. Look for the ‘overflow" sign. There are summer buses from there to Lake Louise with a change of buses should you wish to continue to Moraine Lake. Parking at the lake itself is very limited. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise does have a parking for their guests. For full details on park shuttles and their rates please click here. Remember the Roam Transit bus from Canmore/Banff or the full day the Mountain Lakes and Waterfall Tour.

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Day #3. Columbia Icefield

The Columbia Icefields is about 325 square kilometers (125 square miles) of ice and snow on the Continental Divide between Banff and Jasper National Parks. Its waters flow to the Atlantic via Hudson Bay, the Pacific and the Arctic.

Jasper

After the Columbia Icefields, Jasper is about an hour's drive if you are heading north without any stops. You may wish to stop at two waterfalls, both worth the stop.

Jasper Hotels.

Jasper hotel space can be tight. You have motels like the Mount Robson Inn and resort properties like the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The Jasper chain, Mountain Park Lodges, has a number of properties. There is also a downtown youth hostel. If you are using a hotel booking system (i.e. www.hotels.ca or www.booking.com), make sure you ask for Jasper Alberta. Some clients have accidentally booked themselves into Jasper, Alabama, by mistake!

Get out of Jasper!

If you have taken the one-way motorcoach tour or the express bus to/from Jasper, you may need to "get out of Jasper!" You can take the once daily express bus from Jasper to Calgary with stops in Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore. This express service picks up and drops at a number of Jasper hotels and drops at a number of Lake Louise and Banff Hotels as well as a select number of downtown Calgary hotels. There is also a one-way tour bus from Jasper to Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore to Calgary which includes the Columbia Icefields

Should you wish to travel from Jasper to Edmonton, Alberta, there is a once-daily service to the West Edmonton Mall OR the Edmonton Airport (YEG).

Train Service

Via Rail Canada operates from Jasper Alberta to/from Vancouver British Columbia. This overnight train operates three times a week with "coach"seats as well as the hard to get overnight berths. For details click here. Via Rail also operate East to Edmonton,Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. Click here to view the trip.

At Banff or Jasper you have the Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours heading west to Vancouver British Columbia or from Vancouver to either Banff or Jasper. Click here to view the trip.

Amtrak offer service to East or West Glacier and Whitefish Montana USA. For transportation to/from Montana and either Banff or Calgary please click here.

Remember sunset is late during the summer. For today’s Edmonton sunset click here.

Park Pass

Park Pass – Stopping in Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, or Jasper National Parks requires you to purchase a park pass. (Good for all Canadian Parks). "Children 17 years and under are "free". A park pass is not required if driving thru the park. i.e. no stops. (Exception is the Icefield Parkway). Try to purchase the pass before you arrive at the Park’s gate or you could be in the line to purchase one! Day passes are valid until 1600 hrs (4PM) the next or following day. Park Passes can also be purchased at most of the tourist information booths once you are in one of the Parks.

Discovery Pass – Provides entry into more than 100 National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites across Canada. Valid for a full year until the end of the calendar month of purchase. Available in-person at Parks Canada’s park gates and information centres as well as other offices. click here.

Car Rentals

Banff and Jasper have major car rental company outlets as well as in Calgary. You may wish to consider taking the schedule bus service or private sedan service to/from Banff or Lake Louise (Hertz in Lake Louise) and rent your car from there. Remember, most car companies have airport and non-airport pickups.

In Calgary, the non-airport pickup could be cheaper. For instance, to book for 18 August 2024, a one-week full-size car rental with unlimited mileage will cost $3,250.53 CAD when picked up at the airport and booked at the counter; pre-booking brought it down to $2,931.41 CAD. In contrast, a non-airport pickup costs $692.30 CAD at the counter, reducing further to $625.26 CAD when pre-booked. Remember, these rates are just the base prices and do not include taxes, insurance, and other additional fees. It's also important to note that the Canadian Dollar typically values around 30 – 35% less than the US Dollar (as checked on 12 December 2023).