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F.A.Q.

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We've compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about everything Banff & Lake Louise. We've covered everything from "why is that lake so blue?" to "where is the grocery store?" and "where can I rent a bike?" If you have a burning question that isn't covered here, please get in contact with us. 

Sight Seeing

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Are there any boat tours in Banff National Park?

Yes, Brewster offers boat tours on Lake Minnewanka.

Are there any Gondola’s in Banff National Park?

  • Summer: Banff Gondola, North American Chair at Norquay, Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola
  • Winter: Banff Gondola, Gondola at Sunshine Village, Gondola at Lake Louise Ski Resort, North American Chair at Norquay

What is Johnston Canyon?

“Banff National Park’s most popular hiking destination takes you into the depths of a canyon along catwalks and amongst spectacular waterfalls. See the impressive lower falls and walk through a tunnel to get an even closer look at the powerful effects of water” – taken from Parks Canada’s website

What is Tunnel Mountain?

Tunnel Mountain is one of the mountains you can see from in town. It got its name from the prospect of having to tunnel through the mountain in order to build the railway –  CP built around the mountain and not through it but the name stuck.

Where can I see a glacier up close?

  • Take a tour with Brewster and experience the Glacier Adventure which includes time out on the Athabasca Glacier
  • Drive along the Icefields Parkway
  • Victoria Glacier at the back of Lake Louise
  • Hike

Where is the best place to see wildlife?

Take a drive out around the Minnewanka Loop, up to the Norquay lookout, along Vermillion Lake Drive, or on the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A). Note: Be safe and keep your distance from wildlife.

Where is the Glacier Skywalk?

“is a glass-floored observation platform 918 feet (280 metres) over spectacular glacier-formed valleys and rushing waterfalls.” – Taken from Brewster’s website

Where should I go for a guided tour?

Brewster, Discover Banff Tours and Banff Adventures.

Help & Support

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During the summer, when is the best time of day to visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake?

For the best experience during July, August and September, we suggest you visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the early morning (before 9am) or evening (after 5pm). Soak up the beauty and tranquility, and then enjoy some of the hidden gems in the Lake Louise area. Learn more here

During the summer the parking lot at Lake Louise is generally full between 10am and 5pm. Take advantage of the free public shuttle which operates on weekends during the high season.  

Lake Louise Shuttle – Weekends from July 1 to September 5, 2016: a free public shuttle runs to Lake Louise. Pick up and drop off is from Lake Louise Overflow Camping, 5.5 km east of Lake Louise.

Moraine Lake Shuttle - Weekends from September 10 to 25, 2016: a free public shuttle runs to the Moraine Lake area during the peak larch season. Pick up and drop off is from Lake Louise Overflow Camping, 5.5 km east of Lake Louise.

For the full shuttle schedule, please see the Parks Canada website.

What is a National Park Pass and why do I need one?

“Entry and service fees are charged at most national parks and national historic sites, where revenues are kept to support visitor services and facilities. This means that every time you visit a park or site you are investing in its future — and in a legacy for future generations.” – taken from Parks Canada’s website

What is the best time to visit Banff National Park?

Any time is a good time! Each season brings a different set of activities and views of the mountains.

What is the Cave and Basin?

"The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada commemorates the birthplace of Canada's National Park system, which began here in 1885. The growth and development of Canada's national parks are celebrated in interactive displays and exhibits. Naturally occurring, warm mineral springs can be found inside the cave, and outside in an emerald coloured basin.” – Parks Canada 

What is the difference between Banff and Lake Louise?

  • Banff: is a town
    • More amenities, more restaurants, lively night life 
  • Lake Louise: is a Hamlet
    • Mostly outdoor activity based

What is the elevation of Banff? Lake Louise?

  • Banff – 1384m
  • Lake Louise – 1750m
     

Where are the Visitor Centres in Banff National Park?

224 Banff Avenue
327 Railway Avenue
Village of Lake Louise (next to Samson Mall)

Where can I find wheel chair accessible trails?

“Bow River Trail is wheelchair-friendly from the Muskrat Street access to the northwest end of this trail.” – taken from the Town of Banff’s website

Where can I get a National Pass?

You can purchase a pass at the Park Gates, all Visitor Centres, online from Parks Canada, or on our website

Where can I learn more about the history of Banff National Park?

Cave & Basin, Banff Park Museum, Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, Whyte Museum
 

Where does the name “Lake Louise” come from?

Queen Victoria’s daughter who was married to the Governor General of Canada

Why is the Lake so blue?

The blue colour is due to rock flour which is glacial sediment suspended in the water

Transportation

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How do I get from Banff to Lake Louise?

Without a car: Greyhound, Brewster, or take a guided tour

How far is Jasper? How do I get there?

  • Without any stops, driving time ranges from 3.5 to 4 hours from Banff. Take Highway 1 to Lake Louise, then take the 93N take the Highway 1 West towards Field, and then exit on Highway 93 North or the Icefields Parkway.
  • Without a car: Summer – Brewster, Winter – Sundogs (booked through Brewster)

Is there a passenger train between Banff, Lake Louise & Jasper?

  • Rocky Mountaineer – runs in the summer between Banff and Vancouver
  • VIA rail does not run through Banff 

Is there public transportation in Banff?

ROAM Transit

What is the best way to get to Lake Louise during the summer?

During the summer the parking lot at Lake Louise is generally full between 10am and 5pm. Take advantage of the free public shuttle which operates on weekends during the high season.  

Weekends from July 1 to September 5, 2016: a free public shuttle runs to Lake Louise. Pick up and drop off is from Lake Louise Overflow Camping, 5.5 km east of Lake Louise.

For the shuttle schedule, please see the Parks Canada website

Where can I park my car?

  • There is lots of free parking all around town. Make sure to find the nearest sign to your car to ensure you know how long you are permitted to park there for.
  • We suggest walking and using shuttles as much as possible rather than driving (environmentally friendly)

Places to Stay

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I am looking for accommodation. How can I find out hotel availability?

  • On the main page of our website there is a search tool that allows you to enter in your check-in/check-out dates and will show availability. 
  • The Visitor Centres are happy to help provide some options as well

Where are the campgrounds?

Lake Louise, Two Jack Lake, Two Jack Main, Johnston Canyon, Castle Mountain and Tunnel Mountain – Tunnel Mountain Village 2 will be closed for a portion of the summer

Where can I stay in a cabin?

Our website has a link to hotels that offer cabin/chalet style accommodations.

Winter

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Is it safe to drive in the winter? Can I drive on the Icefields Parkway?

  • Always take your driving experience into consideration (if you are not used to mountains or snow then it may not be a great idea to drive on the roads in bad conditions)
  • Always check the road conditions before heading out
  • Some roads require snow tires (this includes the Icefields Parkway)

What lakes can I ice skate on?

The Chateau maintains a rink on Lake Louise

Where can I go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing?

There are maintained trails all around the town of Banff and Lake Louise. Ask Parks Canada for trail maps

Where can I go downhill skiing?

Lake Louise Ski Hill, Sunshine Village, and Mount Norquay

Things to Do

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What activities can I do in Banff National Park? Summer vs. winter?

  • Summer: Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, white water rafting, horseback riding, fishing, Via Ferrata, rock climbing, helicopter tours, sightseeing, Glacier Adventure
  • Winter: Cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating, ice walks, tubing, sightseeing, helicopter tours

What should I do on a rainy day with the kids?

  • 5 pin bowling at the Fairmont Banff Springs, 10 pin at High Rollers
  • Tour through our museums – Ask for an Explorer booklet to complete at the Cave & Basin
  • Waterslides at Douglas Fir
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Hot Springs

Where can I go biking?

There are many biking and mountain biking in and around Banff and Lake Louise. Parks Canada can provide specific biking trail maps.

Where can I go canoeing?

Canoe on the Bow River (Banff Canoe Docks), and at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

Where can I go hiking?

There are many hiking and walking trails in and around Banff and Lake Louise. Parks Canada can provide specific hiking trail maps.

Where can I go horseback riding?

  • Banff Trail Riders would be happy to take you along on a horseback ride. This can be booked by stopping by Discover Banff Tours or Trail Riders store on Banff Ave. 
  • There are two companies in Lake Louise, Timberline and Brewster

Where can I go swimming?

Johnson Lake 

Where can I rent a bike?

Bactrax-Snowtips, Ultimate Ski & Ride, Banff Adventures, Banff Ski Hub, Soul Ski and Bike. Wilson Mountain Sports (in Lake Louise)

Where is...

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Where can I exchange my money?

Freya’s Jewelry & Currency Exchange, Money Mart, Banks

Where is Bow Lake & Peyto Lake?

These two lakes are located on Highway 93 North or the Icefields Parkway on your way from Lake Louise to Jasper

Where is the Bow Valley Parkway?

Located just off of the TransCanada Highway going west towards Lake Louise. Also known as Highway 1A.

Where is the grocery store?

We have two here in town. A Nesters market is located on Bear Street and an IGA can be found on Elk Street. There is also a small grocery store located in Samson Mall in Lake Louise.