Once you’re in Banff National Park, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. If this is your first time to Banff, Alberta, however, you might be wondering where you should go first! Here are the top ten things to see and do in Canada’s most-visited national park.
1. Drive the Icefields Parkway
Buckle your seat belts and prepare for a 142-mile scenic drive through some of the Canadian Rockies most beautiful territory. Winding through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, the Icefields Parkway delivers on wildlife sightseeing, mountain views, pristine turquoise waters, and connects the Canadian Rockies towns you want to see most: Jasper, Alberta, and Lake Louise, Alberta.
2. Stay in one of Banff National Park’s fine lodges
There are many fine places to stay in and around Banff National Park. Some are rustic shelters nestled deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies while others are right in the middle of the action, near Banff, Alberta. If you are planning on visiting Banff National Park and want to hit up all that the Canadian Rockies has to offer, we recommend checking out our accommodations page.
3. Skiing in Banff National Park
To take advantage of Banff, Alberta skiing, visit one of Banff National Park’s three ski resorts. Lake Louise, Alberta is a popular ski destination as well, with 4,000 acres of terrain waiting for you to try!
4. Ride the Banff Gondola
One of the highlights of visiting Banff National Park is to ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. At 7,500 ft, it provides spectacular views of Banff, Alberta and the Canadian Rockies. The Banff gondola is easily accessible from Banff, Alberta and ample parking is available.
5. Visit the Columbia Icefields
Located just off the Icefields Parkway, the Columbia Icefields are definitely a must-see on a Canadian Rockies vacation. You’ll be transported directly to the glacier via a large, six-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle, where you can spend time admiring a disappearing national treasure. Learn some geography and history while you’re at it, and who knows, you may even spot some wildlife. Don’t be afraid to drink the water running off the glacier–it’s actually encouraged, and it will be the freshest you’ve ever tasted.
6. Banff National Park Hiking & Backpacking
There are several Banff National Park hiking tours available for your consideration. Many offer great wildlife views! Don’t forget, when you’re hiking in Banff National Park, it’s important to bring warm clothes, a bottle of water, and a cell phone. A camera is also a great resource, so you can capture all of your Canadian Rockies vacation memories.
7. Banff, Alberta Hotsprings
Relax in Banff National Park! The Upper Banff Springs is operated by Parks Canada. Settling into the natural springs surrounded by mountain views is a great way to unwind after a long day exploring the Canadian Rockies.
8. Whitewater Rafting in Banff National Park
If you’re looking for something a little different on this Canadian Rockies vacation, give whitewater rafting a go! Kananaskis River whitewater rafting is a great option for beginner rafters. The Kicking Horse River is also worth a try. For more information about whitewater rafting trips near Banff, Alberta, check out the Banff Rafting Alliance and the World Rafting Association.
9. Shopping in the Town of Banff
Wandering around the streets of Banff, Alberta is a great way to discover all that the Canadian Rockies town has to offer. Check out our shopping section for details on shops and restaurants to visit.
10. Check out the Banff Mountain Film Festival
If you’re in the area at the end of October and early November, you have no excuse. Check out the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff, Alberta to see local films, books, music, crafts, and other activities centered around Banff National Park!
Download your FREE Vacation Guide for Banff National Park!
For more information about Banff National Park, why not download our Canadian Rockies Vacation Guides? The Canadian Rockies Guide to Banff National Park has everything you need to get started on your Banff National Park adventure: listings, maps, and campground information!
Click here to view all free Canadian Rockies Vacation Guides.