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The Ultimate Guide to Banff National Park

We spent 2.5 days in Banff National Park and it was absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Our days were packed full and we did so many things to fill the day. Here is our list of what to do in Banff National Park.

When to Visit:

There are differing opinions on this and it depends on the nature of your visit. Are you an avid skier? Do you love hiking? The most popular time to visit Banff is between June- August and December- March. These times of year also can come with a hefty price tag.
We visited the second week of September and it was perfect. The town was not very busy and hotels were more affordable. Also, the weather was mild and beautiful. Parking at a few of the hikes was tricky, but at other places we had no problem at all.

Where to Stay in Banff:

Banff has so many options for lodging- tipi, yurt, microcube, camping, cabin, tents, rvs, hotels, Airbnb..etc. There is a lodging ideal for everyone. We stayed in downtown Banff in a hotel that we got a good deal on at Priceline (our fav). We loved staying downtown, and we were so close to the shops, food, and right at the center of the cutest town.

Getting Around:

Banff has a lot of shuttles running so you don’t necessarily need a car. The shuttles have a ton of routes and stops and there are even options from getting to Banff from Calgary. We did rent a car though because of our flight times and we were on our first trip with our 12 week old baby and didn’t know what to expect. We loved being able to go on our own time and we were able to drive quicker to places.

What To Do in Banff National Park:

Day 1: We had breakfast in Calgary at a highly recommended place on yelp. OEB-it was fresh and delicious and I would definitely recommend it. After breakfast we drove into Banff. It took about 90 minutes to drive there but it was a gorgeous drive. Our first stop was our hotel to drop off bags and take care of our baby.

Tip: Buy your National Park ticket online ahead of time to skip the long line at the booths.

We headed to Johnston Canyon. We hiked the lower trail, which was fairly easy and beautiful. We went around 2 in the afternoon and even then, parking was busy and it took us about 20 minutes of circling the lot to get a place. Be patient though, people are always leaving.

After Johnston Canyon we drove around looking at how beautiful this place was. We made our way to Two Jack Lake. We had the place to ourselves to explore.

Day 2: We got up fairly early to get to Lake Louise to find parking. We arrived at around 9:30 and the lot was wide open. Lake Louise was breathtaking. I have never been speechless over a site before. We explored the lake and walked around the path.

After Lake Louise, we headed over to the Lake Louise Gondola. It was a fun ride, but unless the weather is clear, I wouldn’t waste time/money on it. We got to the top and it was super foggy and we could not see a thing. I am sure the view would have been beautiful though.

Our next stop was to Lake Moraine, but the parking lot was full so we headed to Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is about 30 minutes from Lake Louise and you get to see more of this breathtaking national park. We made a few stops along the way because the scenery was just amazing. When we got to Peyto Lake, there was a short 20 minute hike to the viewpoint. It was absolutely worth the drive and short hike to see it.

Our final stop of the day was to Moraine Lake. We got there around 3 pm and were able to park just fine. I sound like a broken record, but it was absolutely gorgeous. We explored and hiked a little and took it all in.

After Moraine Lake, we headed back to Main Street in Banff, which is the cutest little town and had dinner and walked around and explored.

Day 3: We had a fairly early flight and had to drive back to Calgary, so we only had time to explore town one last time, and then we visit the beautiful Banff Fairmont Hotel. The views from the hotel were amazing and I hope one day to go back and stay there.

Banff is seriously the most gorgeous place and should be on everyones bucket list. I hope this list of what to do in Banff national park helped while you plan your trip.

Other Banff Posts to Checkout:
Where to Eat in Banff

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