10 Banff Day Trips To Do This Summer

by - Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Spend more time playing outside and less time researching with these 10 fun day trips to Banff!

  1. Ride the Banff Gondola, then hike to Sanson's Peak (1 km round trip). Don't forget to look for the red chairs! Afterwards, have dinner in Banff (Splurge: Maple Leaf Grill, Steal: Old Spaghetti Factory, Mid-Priced: The Bison), then finish your perfect day at Banff Upper Hot Springs. Mount Norquay's Sightseeing Chairlift (ages 4 & up) is awesome too! Wine and dine at the Cliffhouse Bistro at the top after taking in the views! 
    At the Top of Sulphur Mountain
  2. Take the Banff Lake Cruise, then hike Stewart Canyon (3 km round trip), Johnson Lake (3 km loop) or Bankhead Historical Loop (1.1 km). Be sure to stop at Two Jack Lake on the way back for photos - there's a small picnic area there too.
    • Stewart Canyon is a unique smooth walled canyon of the Cascade River near Lake Minnewanka.
    • Have a mini adventure searching for the old hermit cabin at Johnson Lake (located near the SW corner of the lake, just off the main trail).
    • Bankhead is a coal mining ghost town with interesting ruins to explore. 
    Bankhead Ruins
    Johnson Lake, Banff
    Billy Carver's Cabin, Built in 1910
  3. Go horseback riding near the Bow River (ages 6+), then visit Cave & Basin Historic Site (free with your National Park Pass), the birthplace of our National Parks! If time allows, the Discovery Boardwalk Trail (400 m) above Cave & Basin is pretty neat with its bubbling pools and endangered snails. Please look, but don't touch! 

  4. Bike or hike to Sundance Canyon, then visit Cave & Basin Historic Site. Sundance Canyon departs from Cave & Basin - travel 4.3 km on a paved path, hike a 1.2 km loop in the canyon, then return on the paved path. 
    En route to Sundance Canyon, Banff
  5. Enjoy some beach time at Johnson Lake, then hike around the lake (3 km) or ride the Water Tower Trail to Cascade Ponds (intermediate level mountain biking trail, 3.9 km one way). Look for Billy Carver's cabin, built in 1910, near the SW corner of Johnson Lake! Insider Tip: You can ride Water Tower Trail from Cascade Ponds, but it's hard to find the trailhead and get your bike up the stairs, so we prefer to ride from Johnson Lake. 
    Water Tower Trail, Banf
  6. Go paddling at Vermilion Lakes and enjoy postcard perfect views of Mount Rundle! Nearby Fenland Loop ia pleasant, forested 2 km trail where you can stretch your legs, enjoy the shade, and often see beavers busy at work. Insider Tip: Vermilion Lakes is a nice sunset spot!
    Vermilion Lakes, Banff
  7. Go mountain biking! Tunnel Bench Loop (9.7 km) is a fun, intermediate level mountain biking trail that takes you around Tunnel Mountain and offers views of Mount Rundle, the Bow Valley, hoodoos, and Cascade Mountain. Head to Cows or the Fudgerie for an apres-cycling treat. 
    Tunnel Bench Loop, Banff (Coastline section)
  8. Bike the Legacy Trail from Cascade Ponds to Banff's Central Park Playground (6.7 km). Have a rest, then make your way to Bow Falls (1.4 km). Grab an iced lemonade from McDonald's or Japanese takeout from Chaya (next to McD's) on your way back or have lunch at Rocky Mountain Flatbread in Cascade Mall.
    Banff Central Park Playground
    Image Credit: Dana Wheatley, Calgary Playground Review
  9. Take the bus/gondola to Sunshine Meadows and see the most wildflowers you've ever seen at once! Mid-late July is usually the best time to go, but this year, the flowers have started early. Several hiking options from the top. 
    Wildflowers at Healy Pass, Banff
  10. Go for brunch at the Banff Springs Hotel, then take a hike! Some of our favorite family hikes in Banff are:
    • Johnston Canyon (1.2 km to Lower Falls / 2.4 km to Upper Falls)
    • Johnson Lake (3 km loop)
    • Tunnel Mountain (4.8 km return, 260 m elevation gain)
    • Sanson's Peak Trail (1 km return from the top of the Banff Gondola)
Tunnel Mountain, Banff
Have fun! What are your favorite things to do in Banff?

**Be sure to check park advisories before heading out! **

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