With the change of the seasons comes the change of attractions in Banff and Lake Louise. Each diverse in location, experience, and accessibility, Banff’s summer attractions share their opening season with enticing patios that feature spectacular mountain views. Wondering when the best of Banff and Lake Louise starts up for summer? Here’s your guide to summer attractions in Banff National Park.
Horseback tours - Open Mid-April
Ranging from one-hour to overnight excursions, horseback riding in Banff and Lake Louise transports guests around the area in the same way that the pioneers travelled. Exploring via horseback is a peaceful, engaging, and immersive way to explore the Rockies at ease. Trot around Banff for the day with Banff Trail Riders, or take advantage of their overnight backcountry hut trips and pack trips. Explore Lake Louise and its tea houses or take advantage of glacial and alpine exploring with Timberline Tours or Brewster Adventures.
Lake Minnewanka Cruise - Open Mid-May
Banff’s only lake cruise offers visitors an experience found nowhere else in the park. The Lake Minnewanka Cruise makes its way across the scenic waters of Banff National Park's largest lake as your knowledgable captains share information on how the lake came to be, what is hiding beneath the surface, and the local and indigenous history of the area.
Tip: Cruises fill quickly, book online to reserve your cruise departure time before you visit.
Stand Up Paddle Board and Canoe Rentals
Rent a stand-up paddleboard in Banff and explore many of the turquoise lakes with your own paddle. Paddleboards can be rented from the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub, Radventures, Bow Valley SUP, and Black Diamond SUP & Bike Rentals. Canoe rentals start on the turquoise glacial waters of the Bow River and the Vermilion Lakes mid-May, offering a calm, quiet, and relaxing perspective of town. Wildlife like beavers, muskrats, elk, and deer are most commonly seen in and around the river and lakes. Rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP from the Banff Canoe Club just outside of downtown Banff.
Whitewater Rafting - Open Mid-May
The snow is melting, the rivers are filling, and the rapids are ready to paddle! Whitewater rafting trips with Hydra River Guides, Chinook Rafting, Canadian Rockies Rafting, or Wild Water Adventures start as the season progresses with the first tours opening mid-May. Raft gentle Class 2-3 rapids with the family on the Kananaskis River, get more adventurous on Class 3-4 rapids on the Horseshoe Canyon or go deeper and bigger with up to Class 5 rapids on the Kicking Horse River.
Lake Louise Gondola - Open Mid-June
Renowned for its natural grizzly and black bear viewing, interpretive centre, hikes, and some of the best patios in Lake Louise, Lake Louise’s only gondola will open once again along with Whitehorn Bistro, Kuma Yama, Kokanee Kabin, and the Lodge of Ten Peaks Cafe.
Moraine Lake Road - Open June
For optimal viewing times, visit outside of peak hours in the early morning or evening. Leave the car at home and travel to Moraine Lake on the Parks Canada shuttles. You could also book a guided sightseeing tour such as Hop On Banff tour for a guaranteed view of the lake.
Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course - Open May
The world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course once again opens its fairways and clubhouse patio in May. Known for its jaw-dropping mountain views, wildlife, course technicality, and the nearby Fairmont Banff Springs. Be sure to save enough time to explore the whole property!
Rocky Mountain Raft Tours - Open Mid-May
Gentle and interpretive, Rocky Mountain Raft Tours float down a calm and gentle section of the Bow River. Under the Hoodoos and along the base of Mount Rundle, the tour gives guests of all ages an interpretive experience from a unique vantage point. Experience Banff from the river with a Rocky Mountain Raft Tour starting mid May.
Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata - Open Mid-June
Can you hike? If the answer is yes, then you can do Banff’s only via ferrata. The Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata has four routes to choose from ranging from 2.5 to 6 hours. All trips start and end at the Cliffhouse Bistro, the perfect après spot to get Banff Ave Brew Co beer on tap while overlooking the stunning Rockies in summer.
Banff Sunshine Summer Sightseeing - Open Late June
Banff National Park’s most accessible alpine hiking is at Sunshine Meadows. Ride the sightseeing gondola and Standish Chair for incredible views without the work. Once you get to Standish Lookout, you can choose from long or short hikes that take you to alpine lakes, mountaintop valleys, and across the border into British Columbia. For an added experience, book a night at Banff’s highest hotel - the Sunshine Mountain Lodge.
Columbia Icefield Adventure & Skywalk - Open Early May
Giving visitors the closest accessible experience to a glacier possible in the Rockies, the Glacier Adventure brings guests on to the Athabasca Glacier for an up-close and personal glacial interaction. Complement this with the Glacier Skywalk for a view of the Rockies’ glaciers like no other. The glass-bottom skywalk brings visitors out and overtop the mountains for a different perspective.
Tip: Tours fill quickly, book online to reserve your time before you visit.
Hop On Banff - Open Mid-June
Hop On Banff continues its unique and interpretive hop-on, hop-off services throughout Banff National Park, exploring areas like Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and other areas not serviced via public transit. Additionally, receive knowledgeable facts and tips from the guide while exploring with Hop on Banff.