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A family of four stands at a railing overlooking a rushing waterfall as they laugh and embrace each other
The Real Banff / Published: Fri, 05/27/2022 - 14:09

Discover More at Johnston Canyon This Summer

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From tremendous waterfalls to towering cliffs and turquoise streams that trickle below, it’s so easy to fall in love with Johnston Canyon. This remarkable place is treasured by many, and taking a little extra time with your itinerary can help make your time exploring it go a long way.

Begin your journey to the canyon by parking at the Banff Train Station and catching Roam Transit’s Route 9 bus. An early departure from the Banff High School is the best way to spend more of your day soaking up magnificent sights—plus, you’ll have plenty of time to venture beyond the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots. 

Two young women have disembarked from a local transit bus and are excited to have arrived at their destination
Damian Blunt

To include even more of Banff’s sights in your itinerary, book your spot aboard the Hop On Banff bus. You’ll have time to explore Johnston Canyon, enjoy a scenic trip on the Lake Louise Summer Gondola, and visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.

When taking your vehicle is most convenient, a prompt start to the morning will give you a better chance of securing a parking spot and more daylight to explore the Ink Pots. Parking is limited at the trailhead and fills up quickly—especially on weekends—so plan to visit midweek and arrive as early as possible. (With a quick detour via your favourite Banff coffee shop, of course!) 

You can easily plan to spend the day wandering through the canyon and bubbling Ink Pots. While Banff offers many trails to run or take a brisk hike, this isn’t one of them; give yourself plenty of time to truly appreciate what makes this place so special. Watch the shapes of winding rivers, notice their colours deepen and listen to the sound of the Lower and Upper Falls flowing. There’s no need to rush—be patient with other hikers and take your time to let the magic truly sink in.

A mother and son stand alongside a railing overlooking a waterfall embedded in a large canyon

Tip: Since there are limited benches to stop and eat lunch along the way, it’s a good idea to pack food that you can easily eat without needing to sit down (like granola bars, fruit, and sandwiches). 

For a unique approach to Johnston Canyon, start your journey from the opposite end of the trail at Moose Meadows. This lesser-known trail offers a full day of moderate hiking through a luscious forest to the Ink Pots, leading further down to the canyon and falls. With fewer people using this trail, it’s the ideal option if you’re searching for that summertime mountain trail run.

If you’re not an early riser and more excited to see the canyon than the Ink Pots, why not opt for a beautiful afternoon stroll? You’ll experience fewer hikers and more parking opportunities. 

A couple walks along a trail while their two young boys stop to read the sign titled "Johnston Canyon"

Alternatively, consider booking an afternoon tour with a local guide like White Mountain Adventures or Banff Cycle. Enjoy a cruisy guided e-bike ride along the Bow Valley Parkway, followed by a walking tour to the Lower Falls, where you’ll learn everything there is to know about this natural wonder. 

E-bike and road bike rentals are available in Banff at Snowtips-Bactrax, Ultimate Sports, and Banff Adventures if self-guided is more your thing. Enjoy wide-open roads of the Bow Valley Parkway with restricted vehicle access between Banff and Johnston Canyon from May 1 to June 25 and from September 1 - 30, 2022.

A male and female bike along a long stretch of road with forests and mountains surrounding on a sunny day

However you choose to discover the magic of Johnston Canyon, the best experience happens when you plan ahead to make the most of your day at this enchanting destination—and your mountain summer!

Ready to make the most of your visit to Johnston Canyon? Use our Trip Planner to help you create the perfect itinerary for your getaway!

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