Banff National Park is famous for its surreally coloured lakes, majestic mountains, and endless outdoor adventures. It has a rich heritage as one of the world’s most awe-inspiring mountain destinations, offering easy access to the vast, unspoiled wilderness of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Any time is a great time to visit as each season brings a different set of activities and views of the mountains. Where will your adventure take you?
On the Trails
Hundreds of miles of trails traverse Banff and Lake Louise, through some of the most magically beautiful sights in the world. Escape into the wild with a multi-day backcountry hike, enjoy an invigorating trail run, or savour the scenery from two wheels. There are countless options for all levels of fitness and experience.
Imagine yourself hiking up high mountain passes, through alpine meadows full of wildflowers, and past shimmering lakes. Hiking is an accessible way to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Banff National Park. The peak backcountry season is June to October, but with appropriate gear you can hike all year around. For inspiration, take a look at our bucket list of must-do hikes in Banff and Lake Louise, and visit Parks Canada for a full list of hikes in the park.
Going for a run in Banff and Lake Louise isn’t your normal run around the block. Whether you’re looking for a quick sunrise workout or an all-day epic, trail running is a wonderful way to soak in the scenery and get an endorphin boost. There are easily accessible trails up Goat Creek, Tunnel Mountain, Sulphur Mountain, and Lake Louise lakeshore. The winding trail alongside the lakeshore of Lake Minnewanka is normally one of the first trails in the area to be clear of snow in the spring and offers spectacular views.
For longer adventures, check out the hiking trails described on Parks Canada.
Hit the dirt on fun trails that wind amongst rugged peaks and deep blue waters. Banff and Lake Louise offers mountain bike trails suitable for first timers all the way through to advanced riders. Mountain biking season typically runs from May through to October, while fat biking is a fun option when snow is covering the trails. Get all the information on where to go from Parks Canada.
On the Slopes
Banff and Lake Louise has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. The combination of cold light snow, diverse terrain, stunning scenery, and warm and enthusiastic people makes for a truly memorable experience. Whether you want to ski or ride a resort or journey into the backcountry, there are limitless opportunities to find adventure.
Skiing & Snowboarding
They all are uniquely accessible (short, easy drives from the town of Banff and village of Lake Louise) and offer terrain for all levels, a great après scene, and up to 30 feet of Rocky Mountain powder every season. Their seasons normally kick off in early November and run through to mid-May.
For experienced adventurers who prefer to earn their turns, the backcountry touring is some of the best in North America. Immerse yourself in the inspiring grandeur of the Rocky Mountains by taking advantage Banff National Park’s unique backcountry lodges for an epic ski touring experience.
On the Water
Paddling offers a different perspective on the world and a uniquely exhilarating, yet tranquil experience. Canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard (SUP) are great ways to explore Banff and Lake Louise, home to some of the most picturesque lakes and rivers you’ll ever see.
Canoe and Kayak
Experience the pristine lakes and waterways of Banff National Park by kayak or canoe. For new paddlers, there are many stunningly beautiful lakes to explore, while experienced whitewater kayakers will enjoy the Bow River. Learn more from Parks Canada.
Stand up paddleboarding
It is a magical experience to paddleboard on an alpine lake when the sun is shining and the surrounding peaks are reflected in the still water. The park’s idyllic mountain lakes are ideal for paddleboarding - and provide great opportunities for wildlife viewing - while the Bow River will excite more adventurous and experienced SUPers. Read our recommendations for prime paddleboarding to learn more.
On the Rocks
Adventure deep into the hidden secrets of the Canadian Rockies on a climbing, caving, or canyoning expedition. All offer the chance to explore the mountains in a different way, for an experience which is both adrenaline-filled and strikingly beautiful.
Rock climbing may be the most visceral way to experience the power and magic of these awe-inspiring mountains. Whatever your level of experience, climbing offers you the special opportunity to truly immerse yourself amongst the crags and peaks of Banff and Lake Louise.
Learn the ropes at the indoor climbing gym at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, on the Via Ferrata at Mt Norquay, or with a guide.
Experienced climbers can choose between a great selection of sport and traditional climbing routes. In the winter, the ice climbing in the park is some of the very best in the world. Check the Parks Canada website for more information.
Imagine rappelling into the wild depths of underground caves and passageways full of ancient stalagmites, fossils, and crystal clear pools. Grotto Mountain, located just outside of Banff National Park, is part of one of the longest cave systems in Canada.
You will feel as if you are on a true expedition as you explore deep underground and maybe confront and overcome some fears you may have along the way. Caving is a great option for year-round adventures, as the caves maintain a steady temperature all year.
Experience a caving adventure with Canmore Cave Tours.
On a canyoning trip, an expert guide will assist you through rappels, descents, jumps, slides, waterfalls, and pools as you descend through stunning canyons. Bow Valley Canyon Tours runs several trips suited for first-timers through to advanced canyoneers.