10 things to do in Banff and Jasper!

Hi guys! Moritz and I are on vacation in beautiful Canada! In our first week, we explored the awesomeness of the National Parks Banff and Jasper with our friends Matt and Anne (check out Anne’s blog fannetasticfood.com for more fun information and pics about our trip!). Every day was packed with highlights but I did my best to put together the 10 greatest must-do’s when in Banff and Jasper!

things banff jasper

1. Visit the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel

The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is not only THE landmark of Banff, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The hotel has been around for more than 125 years. It was built between 1887 and 1888 as one of Canada’s grand railway hotels and offers travellers with big wallets an exclusive accommodation while in the Canadian Rockies.

Things to do in Banff: Spray River Loop

You can combine the visit of the world-famous hotel with a lovely hike: Start in the town center and follow Banff Avenue. Cross the river and head left. Now you can follow the beautiful Bow River until you reach the Bow Falls -> Picture stop!! After one or ten selfies, follow Bow River Avenue over the bridge. Turn right when you see a trail and follow it. It will lead you on a hill overlooking the river from  where you can enjoy great views.

Things to do in Banff: Spray River Loop

As soon as you see a bridge, look for a track on the right side of the trail and follow it down to the river. It will lead you up to the hotel. From there, follow the street down into town again.

2. Hiking at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is also located within Banff National Park. It is famous because of its beautiful emerald colour which stems from rock flour that is produced by the nearby glaciers.

Things to do in the Banff and Jasper National Parks: Hiking at Lake Louise

Things to do in the Banff and Jasper National Parks: Hiking at Lake Louise

At Lake Louise you find another impressive Fairmont hotel and UNESCO world heritage: The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Lake Louise Fairmont hotel

But there is much more to explore around the lake. The area is an eldorado for hikers. We decided to combine two hikes to get most of our day at Lake Louise: the 10.6 km Plain of six Glaciers and the 6.8 km Lake Agnes Teahouse. Those are two of the most famous hikes in the area – for a reason I can say. The scenery is stunning. The Plain of six Glaciers leads trough pine tree forests up to a viewpoint where you have fantastic views of several glaciers. Well worth the climb.

Things to do in the Banff and Jasper National Parks: Hiking at Lake Louise

Things to do in the Banff and Jasper National Parks: Hiking at Lake Louise

Things to do in the Banff and Jasper National Parks: Hiking at Lake Louise

On the way back you can turn left at the sign, indicating Lake Agnes Teahouse. You have to climb up stairs for 400 meters but it’s worth it. Once you made it, you’ll find a beautiful lake and – you might guess it already – a teahouse.

Things to do in the Banff and Jasper National Parks: Hiking at Lake Louise

3. Pay Moraine Lake a visit

Moraine Lake is another beautiful, glacier fed lake that will enchant you with its emerald colour. To get the best views, climb the rock pile close to the souvenir shop! You also find a lot of great hikes in the area.

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4. Walk along Johnston Canyon – and make sure you don’t miss the Ink Pots!

Johnston Canyon was formed by erosion over thousands of years and offers spectacular canyon walls and scenic waterfalls. An iron catwalk will bring you to the Upper and Lower Falls. This part of the hike is quite easy and only 2.7 km long.

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After the Upper Falls continue for 3 more km until you reach the Ink Pots, seven active, cold mineral springs. The turquoise colour looks nearly to beautiful to be real. Take your time, have a snack at one of the benches and explore the area before you head back.

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As Johnston Canyon – especially the catwalk up to the Upper Falls – is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park, make sure you come here early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds!

5. Listen to howling wolves at Lake Dog in Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park is another national park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and only a 30 minute drive away from Banff. If offers many more hiking opportunities and scenic spots. My favorite place was Lake Dog. We had to cross a long suspension bridge before a short but steep trail led us to this remote lake.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Kootenay National Park and Lake Dog

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Kootenay National Park and Lake Dog

We rested at its shore and – here comes the reason why this place became so special to me – listened to howling wolves! I have never heard that sound before and it was beautiful and spooky at the same time. On the way back we tried another trail, hoping to avoid the steep climb – and we got rewarded! 🙂

6. Hike along Marble Canyon to the Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

This hike is not difficult but offers a lot of beautiful viewpoints. At first, you will follow Marble Canyon which is filled with turquoise, glacial water. On your way you will pass some scenic waterfalls and bridges.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

After Marble Canyon, I highly recommend hiking to the Paint Pots. It is another 3 km one-way but absolutely worth it. The scenery changes and you find yourself in the middle of these huge ocker coloured pots that were used by indigenous people to paint their faces.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

When we did this hike, we were the only ones on the trail… well, the only humans at least…

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Marble Canyon and Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park

7. Drive the scenic Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway links Banff and Jasper National Park. It is 230 km long but you should plan a whole day for the trip as many viewpoints and hikes are on the way. And of course the glaciers!

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

My favorite stops include:

  • Mistaya Canyon

Very close to the road. There are some hiking opportunities but simply sitting on a rock and taking in the views is amazing as well.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

  • Athabasca Glacier

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

The hike up to the foot of the glacier is steep but definitely worth it. Be prepared for the cold wind up there!

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway
Photo credit: fannetastic food

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway
Photo credit: fannetastic food

  • Tangle Creek

A nice roadside stop. If you’re brave, you can climb up the rocks on the left of the waterfall.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

  •  Athabasca Falls

Make sure you don’t look at the falls only from above. Follow the stairs through the old, nowadays dry canyon.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

  • Sunwapta Falls

What can I say, some more beautiful waterfalls… 🙂

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Icefield Parkway

8. Be amazed by the colour of Peyto Lake

Even if you don’t want to drive all of the Icefields Parkway, make sure you include Peyto Lake in your travel itinerary. Peyto Lake is fed by glaciers and the glacial rock flour is once more responsible for its incredible colour.

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Peyto Lake

9. When in Jasper, visit the Valley of the five Lakes

This is a very easy, 4.5 km circuit hike that I can highly recommend. It will bring you to five lakes that shimmer in all different shades of turquoise! Simply stunning and beautiful!

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Valley of the Five Lakes

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Valley of the Five Lakes

Things to do in Banff and Jasper: Valley of the Five Lakes

10. Watch out for wildlife!

The National Parks Banff and Jasper are natural habitats for many different wild species. Even by driving from one scenic stop to another, you might spot the one or other animal next to the road. And of course you should keep your eyes open while hiking. We saw a bear in the Valley of the five Lakes but thankfully he was on the other side of the lake, doing his bear thing. If you prefer observing wildlife from a safe distance and in the safety of a car – as I do – make sure to make noise when you are on the trails. I for example clap my hands and sing all the time… That does not only scare away wild animals but other hikers as well… 😛

Here’s a selection of what we saw while in the Banff and Jasper National Parks:

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Banff and Jasper National Park: Wildlife

Of course, this is just a tiny selection of all the great places you can visit and amazing hikes you can do when visiting the National Parks Banff and Jasper.

Have you visited the area too and have some insider tips? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!

More information about:

Banff National Park

Icefields Parkway

Jasper National Park

our travel itinerary on Anne’s blog fannetasticfood.com

more about our trips to Canada in the past

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7 thoughts on “10 things to do in Banff and Jasper!

  1. Pingback: Hiking Lake Louise in Banff National Park - fANNEtastic food | Registered Dietitian Blog | Recipes + Healthy Living + Fitness

  2. Pingback: Hiking Lake Louise in Banff National Park – Easy Low Cal Recipes

    • Thank you!! We miss you guys too! We walk around sad-faced all day! 🙁 We have to start planning our next adventure together veeeery, very soon! 🙂

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