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The Real Banff / Published: Thu, 07/08/2021 - 16:54

Summer Itineraries: 4 Days of Chilling and Sightseeing around Banff National Park

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Scenic roads meandering through valleys surrounded by the Canadian Rockies and Lakes. That’s what makes sightseeing so extraordinary around Banff National Park. Get your camera ready to snap all the moments you experience in Banff National Park. Here are five days of adventures for you to hit the road and see the sights.  

Tip: Play it safe and check the weather and Alberta 511 before you head off for road conditions or closures.  If you’re unsure of the roads, why not let our sightseeing tours do the work for you? Check out Discover Banff Tours, Brewster Sightseeing, White Mountain Adventures, or Open Top Touring, to get you out seeing the sights. 

Day 1: Sightseeing around Banff town 

Get the most out of your day; rise early, grab a coffee or tea, and get going. For your first stop, drive to Bow Falls. Watch as the waters of the Bow River rage, before curving off into the distance. If you’re up for a walk, hit the trail along the Bow River from downtown. 

Leave Bow Falls and head back over the river to your next destination, Surprise Corner. We won’t tell you what jaw-dropping view you’ll see here, it might wreck the surprise. But you'll know what it is as soon as you reach the lookout.  

Continue along Tunnel Mountain Drive to the Hoodoos Lookout and gaze over the valley and at the unique pin-shaped rock formations. An added win are the views of Rundle Mountain and the Bow River below. 

Your final stop is the Vermilion Lakes. These three lakes provide a spectacular backdrop, especially at sunset. Sit on the banks for a rest or hit the water for some paddling. If you're up for more adventure, try the scenic drive of Minnewanka Loop

Tip: Check out Banff Scooter Company for a fun way to get around the town of Banff. If chilling is more your style, and you want someone to do the driving for you, check out Open Top Touring, and be delivered to the best scenic spots around Banff. 

Day 2: Icefields Parkway – Unplug and disconnect. 

Day two of your adventure has you travelling north of Banff and onto one of the highest highways in Canada, the Icefields Parkway. Explore rivers, forests and valleys surrounded by the peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Did you know that you can still visit this area without a car? Book ahead and jump on board with Brewster Sightseeing Tours.  

First on the list are lakes. If you’re up for a paddle and have a canoe, stop at Herbert Lake just as you get onto the Icefields Parkway. Waterfowl Lakes and Bow Lakes are the next stops we recommend with their spectacular backdrops and crystal blue waters. As you’re heading up the highway, keep your eyes peeled for the Weeping Wall on the right-hand side. With many falls dropping off the cliff face, you’ll soon see how it got its name.  

As you continue north, you will arrive at Athabasca Glacier. Travel on the glacier and learn about the scenery surrounding you with Pursuit’s Columbia Icefield Adventure skywalk. Otherwise, walk to the foot of the glacier and travel through time to see the melting stages of the glacier.  

If you’re driving, instead of heading back to Banff, spend the night at Emerald Lake Lodge or in Lake Louise.  

Tip: Fill the gas tank in Lake Louise before travelling the Icefields Parkway. There is a gas station on the Parkway, but it is costly (79km from Lake Louise). To avoid time delays, book your seat on the Columbia Icefield Adventure before you leave Banff or Lake Louise. 

Day 3: Yoho National Park, mountain lakes and falls 

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The World Pursuit
Emerald Lake
Today, travel to Yoho National Park where waterfalls and lakes are abundant. Join Discover Banff Tours for their Mountian Lakes and Waterfalls Tour, or if you want, make the drive yourself. Take the scenic drive along the Trans-Canada Highway to the shores of Emerald Lake. Jump in a Canoe to see the sights from the water, or otherwise walk the trail that surrounds the lake. 

After you leave Emerald Lake, continue to the Natural Bridge where you can see what was once a waterfall. As a result of the pressure of the raging Kicking Horse River, it now resembles a narrow bridge. 

Next up is the impressive Takkakaw falls. Navigate the windy accent and keep an eye out for bears and other wildlife. Leave the car and wander to the base of the falls. Keep your distance to avoid the spray of the falls. For the photo of the day, look out the red chairs that are to the right of the bridge. 

Day 4: Drive south to Kootenay National Park

Spend the day travelling through the lesser-known, Kootenay National Park. You can’t go past a stop at Storm Mountain Lodge for a snack or a meal, their food is heavenly.  After collecting snacks, head to the Paint Pots, which is a 2 km return hike with a 25 m elevation gain. Set your eyes on three iron-rich mineral springs with a vibrant ochre colour. Be prepared for your shoes to change colour.  

Marble canyon is a short drive or hike from the Paint Pots. Walk the 1.6km trail and witness the power of water as you peer deep below at the winding canyon with raging waters. Keep an eye out for the red chairs for the perfect photo stop along the trail. 

If you have more time in the area, or you're condsidering staying close by, take the opportunity to hike Boom Lake. The 5km round trip hike to the turquoise Lake, surrounded by giant cliff faces, is jaw-dropping.

If you're up for a cozy night and less driving, spend the night at Storm Mountain Lodge or Castle Mountain Chalets.  

If you’re not up for a sightseeing bus, but want a guide with information and directions, try GyPSy Guide. This app provides narrated audio tour and your own personal guide to get you around. 

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