Banff National Park has so much to offer, but if you’ve seen all the main attractions you might want to get a little off the beaten path to see some of the hidden gems that the locals love. Check out a few of these locations and activities that will get you away from the crowds, while still giving you the true Banff experience.
1. Sunsets and Sunrises at Vermilion Lakes...by canoe
Start or end your day with views of Mount Rundle that will take your breath away. An easy walk or bike through the wooded Fenland Trail will take you to this series of connected lakes that boast Instagram-worthy shots on the regular (just check #VermilionLakes for proof). To avoid the popular shoreline, consider renting a canoe from Banff Canoe Club and heading to the lakes.
2. Cruise Highway 1A (The Bow Valley Parkway)
Hop on your bike or lace up your walking shoes and make your way along The Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon. This is a unique opportunity in 2020, with a section of the 1A recently closed to vehicles. It's a wildlife hot spot and a photographer's dream, and now you're invited to make this journey at your own pace. Don't forget to pack your water, bear spray, and some snacks to be prepared for your 24-kilometer journey.
3. Stargaze at Lake Minnewanka
While Lake Minnewanka is certainly a tourist spot, not so many people go there after dark. Surrounded by mountains, and with an expansive swath of sky to behold, it’s the perfect place to check out the night’s stars in all their glory.
4. Take a dip in Mosquito Creek
Up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper you’ll find a little gem in Mosquito Creek. Don’t let the name fool you, this lovely little spot on the way to the must-see (but popular).
5. Walk down the backside of Sulphur Mountain
If you want an unparalleled view of the whole town of Banff, riding the gondola up Sulphur Mountain is a great way to get it. But instead of riding down with everyone else, try walking your way down the backside for a chance at seeing local wildlife like pikas, marmots, and even more stunning vistas.
6. Explore The Banff Springs Golf Club Road
It’s not many golf courses that are local attractions in their own right, but the path through Banff’s golf course is a lovely walk, bike, or drive. Go in the right season and you’re sure to see herds of elk. In the summer you can even canoe around Bow Falls along the course’s path for an aquatic view of the scenic area.
7. Hike Taylor Lake
Between Castle Junction and Lake Louise is a hike that has it all: a crystal clear green lake, a waterfall, and meadows full of wildflowers — and you’re more likely to have it to yourself. This moderate hike has got it all for those who’ve already conquered Tunnel Mountain and Johnston Canyon.