With summer in full swing, Banff and Lake Louise are full of life in August. Stunning mountain vistas, vibrant turquoise lakes that glisten in the warm, summer sun, greater chances of spotting wildlife, and a summer event series, make August one of the most popular times to visit!
If you're looking for ideas to make the most of your summer trip to Banff National Park, check out these great options.
Local Tip: The easiest way to explore Banff National Park in August is to plan ahead and take transit! For all transit and shuttle options visit explorethepark.ca.
Get out on the water!
Banff National Park is famous for its glimmering lakes and rushing rivers – why not take your adventures out on the water? Rent a canoe, kayak or SUP at the Banff Canoe Club in downtown Banff, paddle upstream on the Bow River or to the Vermillion Lakes for a view of Mt Rundle. Canoe rentals are also available in Lake Louise at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Want some adrenaline? Book a whitewater rafting excursion. If sitting back and relaxing is more your speed, the Lake Minnewanka Cruise lets you soak up stunning views, alongside a primer of the area’s history, geology, and wildlife.
Hike to a teahouse!
Vistas aren’t the only thing waiting at the end of your trek. In Banff National Park there are two tea houses nestled in the mountains accessible from trails starting at Lake Louise. Hike up about 400 metres and you’ll arrive at the stunning Lake Agnes, where you’ll find a tea house that’s more than a century old. The Plain of Six Glaciers hike leaves from the back of Lake Louise, leading you to a Swiss-built tea house. Don’t forget your cash – these teahouses don’t accept credit cards.
Take a Gondola to a trailhead!
Starting at the bottom of a mountain and hiking your way up is one option. Or take a gondola to access harder-to-reach, scenic destinations. Try the Lake Louise Gondola, and hike to the Ptarmigan Valley or Kicking Horse viewpoints. Or take the Banff Sunshine Gondola and explore meadow hikes full of colourful wildflowers.
Grab a snack and enjoy the scenery
You don’t have to break a sweat to enjoy the mountains. Take your pick of patios with stunning views and delicious food and drinks, like Banff Centre’s MacLab Bistro on Tunnel Mountain, Park Distillery in downtown Banff, or Juniper Bistro at the base of Mt Norquay. Looking for a more rustic experience? The Cascade Ponds, on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, offer a series of benches and campfire pits for your perfect picnic.
Drive the Icefield Parkway
The Icefield Parkway is a scenic highway known for its glacier-topped mountains. A thirty-minute drive north, you’ll find Bow Lake – the source of the Bow River. You’ll want to stop at Peyto Lake next. This beauty isn’t visible from the road, but a short, steep hike up a paved path will give you a sweeping view of the vibrant blue lake and seemingly endless mountain ranges.
Make your next stop Mistaya Canyon and marvel at its depth as the Mistaya River plunges through it. Want to see a glacier up close? Drive an hour further north and you’ll hit the Athabasca Glacier, where you can park your car and hike up to the foot of the glacier, or book a trip to explore it close up with the Columbia Icefield Adventure. For another perspective, the Glacier Skywalk lets you stroll on a glass viewing platform to marvel at the glaciers below.
Hanging out in the town of Banff
If you’re in Banff on a Wednesday, you won’t want to miss the weekly Banff Mountain Market at Central Park, full of local produce, treats and crafts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For evening events, check out Banff Centre for its International String Quartet competition, outdoor concerts, and various jazz performances throughout the month.