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7 Ways Banff National Park Has Changed Since 2020

Published Date
Aug 19, 2021
Couple on paddleboards in the middle of the lake; Rundle in Background

Banff National Park is Alive, and as such, it is constantly growing and changing. As both Banff and Lake Louise continue to welcome back visitors from near and far, it is essential to have the most up-to-date information to ensure trip planning is as smooth as possible. Here are 7 ways Banff and Lake Louise have changed in the past year.

1. New Restaurants

Banff is known for its wide array of culinary options and unique food experiences. This year the already bustling food scene has expanded with even more distinctive offers such as a Japanese Sushi & Karaoke Bar, new cozy restaurants featuring local cuisine, and even a brewery with a retractable roof for stargazing. You can find all the new and exciting restaurants that opened this year here.

Hello Sunshine Interior featuring tables with fire pitsHello Sunshine Interior featuring tables with fire pitsHello Sunshine Interior featuring tables with fire pits

2. New Accommodation

From cozy cabins to rooftop hot tubs (and everything in between), Banff National Park is known for an array of mountain-themed accommodation. This year, there are some new accommodation additions, including the Peaks Hotel & Suites, located less than a minute walk from downtown Banff. Many favourites such as Banff Aspen Lodge and the Dorothy Motel (formerly Bumpers Inn) have also reopened as they have recently been beautified and updated for your comfort.

Exterior of the Dorothy MotelExterior of the Dorothy MotelExterior of the Dorothy Motel

3. New Tours

The beauty of Banff National Park is that it is exciting from each and every angle. This year, you’re invited to see the park from a local’s perspective. Adventure seekers are encouraged to join a guided e-bike tour, guided backcountry hike, or guided SUP tour to help you experience the fun in an accessible way. For those drawn to local tastes and local breweries, the new Bow Valley Beer Tour or Moonshine and Microbrews Tour are sure to delight! Hoping to sit back and relax so you can really appreciate the views?

Open Top Touring vehicle traveling along Mt. Norquay RoadOpen Top Touring vehicle traveling along Mt. Norquay RoadOpen Top Touring vehicle traveling along Mt. Norquay Road

4. New Retail Stores

Mountain souvenirs are the best souvenirs! Now you are even more spoiled for choice with an array of new shops to choose from. Sort through a selection of hats and accessories at Brims & Things along Banff Avenue. Or perhaps you’d prefer searching for comfy sweaters and local artwork at Big Bear Trading Co. The sweet tooth in your group can also indulge in Banff’s newest dessert haven, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Shopping for souvenirs is even easier with the pedestrian zone along Banff Avenue and the newly renovated, pedestrian-friendly Bear Street.

5. New Cycling Opportunities

Cycling enthusiasts are invited to get out on the open road now more than ever in Banff National Park. Throughout the summer months, the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) has been closed to vehicle access from the Fireside Day Use Area to Johnston Canyon to allow cyclists the space to explore. This scenic ride offers stunning views, hiking opportunities, and even the potential to spot some of our wild neighbours. You also have plenty of bike rental options, including e-bikes, in both Banff and Lake Louise. When you return to the Banff Townsite, you can also swing by the Bike Valet located on Banff Avenue. Park your bike in the valet for free as you shop, dine, and relax in town. After all that cycling, you have earned a break!

2 cyclists on the Golf Course Loop2 cyclists on the Golf Course Loop2 cyclists on the Golf Course Loop

6. New Parking Lots and Parking Regulations

As parking can be limited, we invite you to explore Banff National Park car-free whenever possible. To help avoid congestion, visitors are encouraged to park at the Banff Train Station – offering 500 stalls and free parking with a time limit of 9 hours. From here, it is a short 10-minute walk to downtown, or you can also take advantage of the free shuttle (offered Friday – Sunday) from the parking lot.

Additionally, paid parking has now been implemented at the Lake Louise lakeshore. Therefore, we recommend using public transportation, including Parks Canada shuttles or Roam Public Transit for ease of access to Lake Louise.

Roam bus traveling past Lake MinnewankaRoam bus traveling past Lake MinnewankaRoam bus traveling past Lake Minnewanka

7. Watercraft Procedures from Parks Canada

An important initiative within the national park is to protect our water from harmful aquatic invasive species. These stunning turquoise lakes are extraordinary, and we recognize the responsibility we have to protect them for years to come. Therefore, anyone launching watercraft such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and inflatables requires a self-certification permit. It is important to read the conditions listed on the form (i.e. Drying your watercraft for a minimum of 48 hours after being used) and to ensure the survey is completed each time any water-related gear is used within Banff National Park.

3 friends paddleboarding on the lake3 friends paddleboarding on the lake3 friends paddleboarding on the lake

*BONUS* Our Trip Planner Tool

Launching in August of this year, visitors can soon take advantage of a new trip planning tool on the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website. Use this tool to explore activities and experiences by season, create a personalized itinerary for your trip, and pick up helpful local tips and along the way. This is the ultimate way to ensure you make the most of your trip to Banff. Choose from pre-set itineraries or create your own to share with friends and family – trip planning has never been so seamless (and fun!).

Outdoor Hot Tub & Fire PitOutdoor Hot Tub & Fire PitOutdoor Hot Tub & Fire Pit
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Real Banff is an inside look at the events and activities around the park, brought to you by Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. Our mission is to have a post on pretty much everything that is available for you to do in Banff, Lake Louise and beyond.