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The Real Banff / Published: Fri, 04/13/2018 - 17:35

Your Guide To Getting Around Banff National Park

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So, you’re planning a trip to Banff National Park this summer.

There are many different ways to get around once you’re here and we’ve compiled them here to make your trip planning easy. 

Explore Banff by Car

It’s fair to say that driving through Banff National Park gives you the most flexibility in terms of plotting out your route. Not all attractions are accessible by other modes of transportation, but limited parking is a downside of taking a car to popular locations.

Arriving at Calgary Airport? You can book a car rental there. Or, take the Banff Airporter or Brewster Shuttle bus from the airport to Banff and reserve a car at one of a number of rental companies right in downtown Banff:

Availability and rates will vary, so if you’re planning on renting a car to get out of the Town of Banff and explore the rest of the park, be sure to reserve in advance.

Arriving at the Calgary Airport

If you’re flying into Calgary to start your Banff vacation, there are three shuttle options that can get you right to the door of your hotel.

Getting around the Town of Banff

Roam Transit

Did you know the Town of Banff has its own transit system? The Roam Transit bus service will get you to attractions right in town, including the Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

Want to wander further afield? Roam still has you covered. Roam Route 6 will take you out of downtown Banff along the Minnewanka Scenic Drive. Don’t forget to get off the bus and explore! With stops conveniently located at the magnificent Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack campgrounds, and day use area. Bring your snacks for a picnic and stop at the Cascade Ponds to build a campfire in one of Parks Canada’s designated fire pits and take in the sweeping views.

Interested in taking in a few stops in one day? Use Roam as your shuttle for the day, and take unlimited rides for $5 (seniors 65+ and children/youth 6-18 $2.50). A single fare is only $2 (seniors 65+ and children/youth 6-18 $1). Children under 6 years old ride for free.  

For a complete breadown of routes and schedules, please visit Roam Transit

Bicycle

Forget about parking and enjoy the freedom of your own schedule by bringing or renting bicycles. Bike up Tunnel Mountain Drive and stop at the Hoodoo lookout, cycle the Sundance Canyon Access Road, or take in a view of Mount Rundle along Vermilion Lakes Road. With a bicycle, you can make your itinerary on the fly and see where the day takes you!

Don’t have a bike or travelling light? Rent in town from around $30/day. 

Bike rentals available in Banff from Soul Ski & Bike, Snowtip-Backtrax, and Banff Adventures. Lake Louise rentals available from Wilson’s Mountain Sports.

Parks Canada Shuttle Buses

Whether you’re visiting Banff without a car, or if you want to leave your car in town, Parks Canada’s shuttle is the answer for you. From May 19 to October 9, enjoy a free shuttle bus from the Banff Train Station, arriving at the Samson Mall in the Hamlet of Lake Louise. In the summer, catch a second shuttle bus right up to Lake Louise, where you can rent a canoe to explore the lake, do world-class hiking, or take photos while enjoying the views.

Visiting during Larch season or peak summer weeks? Parks Canada has additional shuttle options. Drive to the Lake Louise overflow parking lot on the Trans-Canada (Highway 1), leave your car, and shuttle up to the Larch Valley trailhead.

For more details on the many shuttles offered by Parks Canada’s Shuttle Page.   

For a complete listing of all shuttles in Banff National Park, visit www.explorethepark.ca.

On Foot

Finally, you’ve arrived in Banff. What better way to stretch your legs and enjoy the fresh air than to explore the area and its attractions on foot? Banff National Park is vast, with many sights and hikes to explore, but you don’t need to go far to discover the beauty the park has to offer. Some of the most popular attractions, sights, and hikes are accessible right in town.

Looking for a hike or a walk you can get to on foot? Try Tunnel Mountain, the Hoodoo Trail, Sulphur Mountain, Marsh Loop, Sundance Canyon, or the Fenlands Trail, all accessible on foot within the town. For more inspiration, check out our blog Exploring Banff On Your Own Two Feet

For an interpretive look, you can also join a guided walking tour with Banff Walk.

Private Tours

Are you looking for an accessible experience with some insight into the history and wildlife? The area offers multiple guided experiences to choose from with a broad range of activities tailored to diverse interests and abilities:

Canoe, Kayak, or SUP

This is a bit of a stretch, but hear us out. OK, so you can’t explore the entire town, but if you pick up a canoe, kayak, or SUP rental at the Banff Canoe Club, you can explore the Bow River upstream. Within minutes you’ve left downtown Banff behind and have a completely different view of the park. Local tip: When the water levels are high enough early in the season, paddle from the Bow River to the Vermilion Lakes. Looking for more paddling inspiration, check out 8 Jaw-Dropping Paddles to Explore in Banff National Park

For more information navigating Banff National Park during the summer months, please visit www.explorethepark.ca.

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