Nothing is more exciting than planning a trip; especially when those plans involve a trip to Banff National Park in the summer.

From the months of June to August in Canada the warm, summer weather comes alive and Canadians previously sheltered away from the freezing sub zero temperatures seek the sunlight and start their seasonal activities.

All of the best Banff National Park summer activities are scattered right throughout the park, hidden along places like the Icefields parkway and the Bow Valley parkway. The summer months here are jam-packed with people from all over Canada which just goes to show the popularity and beauty of Banff National Park Alberta.

Plan You Trip to Banff National Park Itinerary

How many days needed to visit Banff National Park? Good question, thank you for asking!

The below list is a more detailed guide of our recommended things to do in Banff, however if you’re pressed for time and only want to see the absolute highlights in the shortest amount of time then try out this list below! They’re relatively close together and wont take up more than a day.

  1. Drive into Banff town – grab a coffee in town, look out over Cascade and Sulphur mountain and stroll up and down Banff Avenue.
  2.  Visit Banff upper hot springs- the hot springs rising from below the mountain can make a great start to the day
  3. Early morning paddle on Vermillion lakes- these reflective lakes are generally quiet, untouched and calm, rent a kayak or SUP in town. 
  4. Banff gondola- ride the gondola after the hot springs up Sulphur mountain for impressive views
  5. Take the Moraine lake and Lake Louise shuttle from Banff town – these two lakes are the best Banff national park lakes to see if you’re only looking for the best of the best!

Top Things to Do in Banff in Summer

Drive the Icefields Parkway

Situated between the towns of Jasper and Banff lies a long stretch of road known as the Icefields Parkway, a paved road that is surrounded by incredibly monumental landscapes the entire drive. Coniferous pine trees line the roads that lead up to stunning mountainside.

Plan Your Trip to Banff: Things to Do in Summer with Itinerary // Driving Icefields Parkway

Driving Icefields Parkway

The summer months mean that Banff National Park wildlife leave their dens and bathe in the sunlight, mate and can often be seen crossing the roads of Banff National Park in summer. One of our favourite places to see sits right before the Trans Canada highway turns into the Icefields Parkway: Moraine Lake.

This stunning natural blue, glacial-fed lake sits right at the base of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and is well worth the visit; just fair warning that Parks Canada have changed the rules on how to get there in 2023.

Banff Sunshine Meadows Gondola

If it’s incredible views you’re looking for, then look no further than from the top of Mount Standish, Banff’s highest vantage point for 360-degree views of the surrounding national park.

If you’re visiting Banff National Park in the summer, one of the best Banff attractions in summer can only be done by purchasindg your tickets for the Sunshine Meadows Gondola ride; an 8 passenger gondola up to the Sunshine village.

From here you can continue up on the Standish chairlift to the very top of the mountain. This is certainly one of the coolest things you can do here in Canada that a lot of people overlook. The chairlift will take you to 2,400m giving you unprecedented access to 3 pristine alpine lakes of the Rocky Mountains.

Banff National Park Lakes

Lake Louise Canada

No trip to the Canadian Rockies in summer is complete without making a stop at Banff Lake Louise; the quintessential lake of the Rocky Mountains. Whilst Lac Louise freezes over in the wintertime making great ice-skating adventures, one of the best things to do in summer in Banff is to rent a canoe and float your way across the lake.

Plan Your Trip to Banff: Things to Do in Summer with Itinerary // Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Accessing Lake Louise Alberta, Canada, can still be done via private car all throughout the day, however in the peak of summer it might be best to take a shuttle ride from Parks Canada using their park and ride shuttle system.

Ready for some Banff National Park Lake Louise adventures? There’s a canoe rental shop to the left of the lake where you will be able to rent a red or yellow canoe for an hour or two, at expensive tourist prices of course! The carpark is fairly large and accommodates lots of cars but spaces are limited so if you’re traveling with a group we suggest car pooling.

Another summer Banff attraction are the hikes you can do from the base of Lake Louise Banff National Park such as the Lake Agnes Tea House hike that takes you to lake Agnes, or the plain of 6 glaciers trail is a moderately challenging hike.

Peyto Lake

We know we have touched on lakes already but one of the best hikes in the region will take you to the viewing platform of Peyto Lake, a gorgeous crystal blue lake that’s shaped like a wolf, surrounded by lush, green pine trees all around it. Probably one of the most iconic of the things to see in Banff! Indeed, if there is one Banff must-see place, that’s the one!

Plan Your Trip to Banff: Things to Do in Summer with Itinerary // Peyto Lake Hiking

Peyto Lake Hiking

The distinctive shape of the lake makes for incredible photographs and if you get to hang around for sunset or wake up early for sunrise then you will be rewarded with stunning views over the mountains that look like they go on forever.

Lake Minnewanka

It’s not hard to find a good lake here in Banff to enjoy a picnic, and even easier to find a decent spot to pull up a rug and enjoy a lunch by the waters edge. One of our favourite things to do in Canada in summertime is packing our own snacks in a picnic basket and cooler, and making our way down to the water’s edge for a few hours to watch the world go by.

Lake Minnewanka is particularly great for this with large, open grassed areas with picnic tables and chairs along Minnewanka scenic drive.

The parking lot here fills up fairly quickly in the summertime so if you want to enjoy the lake make sure you’re here before 9 am to grab a great spot. Lake Minnewanka is also perfect for stand up paddleboarding, canoeing, more hiking and even renting a mountain bike and riding the Lake Minnewanka road loop for 13.1 km.

Banff National Park Fairmont Chateau

It’s unlikely you will miss this gigantic mansion when you visit here, however overlooking Lake Louise is the iconic Fairmont Lake Louise first opened in 1882 overlooks the stunning glacial lake with its iconic glass framed windows and luxurious accommodation that’s well worth the visit.

Even if you decide not to stay here, we’d recommend a lunch or dinner inside their dining room during the day simply to admire the views over the lake.

Johnston Canyon Falls

One of the coolest places to visit in Banff in summer is Johnston Canyon accessible off the Bow Valley parkway. These are some of the most fascinating hiking trails with waterfalls and canyons anywhere in the province.

Getting here is simple enough if you follow the parkway north from Banff roughly 25 km in you will come across the Johnston Canyon campground and car park on your left before making your way to the trailhead.

Plan Your Trip to Banff: Things to Do in Summer with Itinerary // Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon

There are two sections to this short hike; the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls, all of which have their intricacies and beauty. The Lower Falls are the first to come across as you wind your way along the steel walkway bolted into the side of the mountain, grasping the side-rail to glance over the edge for epic views below.

The Upper Falls are in our opinion the prettiest, as you will see there is a giant boulder protrusion out of the ground that allows the waterfalls run off to encircle it, slowly eroding away at it over time. Make sure you continue the hike past the crowds to reach this one as most will stop at the first and never continue onwards.

Banff National Park Glaciers

You may think that walking on a glacier is a winter activity, and you would be mistaken because the Columbia Icefield is a permanent icefield. It is what’s known as a ‘toe’ of the much larger, and underground sheet of ice known as a glacier, officially a part of the Athabasca Glacier that extends from Alberta into British Columbia bordered by the Kinbasket Lake to the west – the ultimate Banff National Park glacier if you will!

Private access is now allowed, and you’d be sorely mistaken for attempting to drive on one of these, as Columbia Icefield glacier adventure company runs million dollar Mercedes Benz buses across the icefield.

Plan Your Trip to Banff: Things to Do in Summer with Itinerary // Icefields in Banff

Icefields in Banff

You begin your adventures across the road at the company’s headquarters before being given a safety briefing to board the ice road trucker across the ‘toe of the glacier’. After your journey across the ice your bus tour will guide you down to the Columbia skywalk, a purpose built steel platform that juts out from the side of the mountain giving you amazing views over the Rockies.

When you plan your trip to Banff be sure to not leave out the Columbia icefield from your list and book ahead of time.

Banff National Park Wildlife

Move over winter because summer in Banff National Park means that the country’s furry, not so cuddly residents come out to play and begin their journeys across the countryside.

Canada is famous for its local residents like Moose, Elk and deer walk through the towns of Banff, Canmore and Jasper to name a few. If you plan on venturing out of town for a spot of hiking, biking or trail riding then you may be fortunate enough to come across animals such as Black Bears and Grizzly Bears. The Banff National Park bear population is around 65, compared to 109 in Jasper National Park, and 15 in Yoho National Park.

These beautiful Banff National Park animals make their way to the roadside of famous roads throughout the park mostly to graze on the wildflowers that grow on the curb. They can be here for hours chewing away at the flowers, peacefully ignoring passing cars. They also use the roads as thoroughfares to cross between a habitat and the next; so giving animals space is both supported by and endorsed by Parks Canada.

Some simple things to look out for when encountering wildlife of any sort

  • If viewing bears from the car, do not leave your car. Remain inside at all times and don’t leave to take a photo.
  • Give animals their space, as they may have young with them and feel threatened enough to protect them.
  • Bears are often the victims of tourists getting too close as Park rangers are often required to destroy the animals in fear of bears becoming less afraid of humans, and often attacking humans.
  • Pick up your rubbish and keep food in bear tight bags when hiking and camping.

Banff National Park Hiking

The most amazing thing about planning a trip to Banff in the summer is the ability to tackle almost any of Banff National Park trails. Obviously hike to the limits of your own body and experience, but realistically unless trails have been closed the day of for maintenance, recent bear sightings or natural landscape destruction, hiking in Banff is a must-do activity.

Plan Your Trip to Banff: Things to Do in Summer with Itinerary // Hiking around Banff

Hiking around Banff


Top Banff National Park Hikes

There is an endless amount of hiking trails to mention but a few of the top Banff National Park trail hikes worth mentioning is the Lake Louise foreshore hike (4.5 km), Sentinel pass via Larch Valley (11.1 km), the Plain of Six Glaciers trail (14.6 km) and Little Beehive via Lake Agnes trail from Lake Louise (9.2 km) round trip – probably the best Banff National Park hiking trail!

Varying degrees of difficulty and terrain will dictate how comfortable you feel tackling these hikes, but there are a few important things you should bring on every hike in Canada regardless of difficulty.

  • Bear spray should be carried on ALL hikes in Canada, particularly through national parks as we share the habitat with bears and other wildlife.
  • Hiking shoes are a must – here it’s okay to spend a bit more on a comfy, well put together pair of hiking shoes that will last a long time and make your summer activities in Banff more enjoyable.
  • Plenty of water is a must as you sweat it out on day hikes in the blistering sun of summer time

Lastly, a good hiking companion is an essential part of hiking through Banff for a number of reasons. Nobody wants to hike on their own and if you plan on going off the beaten path then Parks Canada recommends groups of 2 at the minimum, and any backcountry hikes should be done in groups of 4 with every hike carrying their own bear spray.

Travel to Banff National Park

Where is Banff National Park?

Well, Banff National Park sits in the province of Alberta, Canada and is the first and oldest national park in all of Canada – the park’s 150 years was celebrated a few years ago. It sits on the border between Alberta and British Columbia to the west.

Banff is also surrounded by other incredible parks like Jasper National Park to the north west and Waterton Lakes National Park to the south before crossing into a mix of Yoho and Kootenay National Parks.

How to get into Banff National Park

Banff lies in the province of Alberta right next door to its much larger cousin British Columbia, however there are no direct Banff national park flights because there is no international airport within the park itself.

So if you are looking for the nearest Banff National Park airport, the easiest way of getting here is actually to either fly into Calgary airport 1.5 hours to the east, or fly into Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta 4 hours north and drive down.

Banff National Park Pass

All national parks within Canada, especially Canada’s first designated national park, Banff; require a Parks Canada Pass before entering. There are a couple of options to choose from before purchasing.

The annual Discovery Pass gets you 12 months of access to over 80 parks in Canada, or the single day pass into your choice of only one national park.

These can be purchased from the gates at the entrance to the parks, or online at The Banff National Park pass can be purchased at the entrance gates for CA$10.50 per adult, CA$9 for seniors and a family for CA$21, whereas the discovery pass will set you back CA$72.25 per adult for the year.

Best Time to Visit Banff National Park

The summer months between June and August are the warmest months but also the busiest right around Canada, due to the seasonal holidays worldwide. At this time the snow has mostly disappeared, the wildlife come out to play and the crowds swarm the national parks. 

Banff National Park in September

An alternate best month to visit Banff is September, when the temperatures are still relatively warm, and the risk of snowfall limited. With the summer crowd mostly gone, visiting Banff in September will let you appreciate the park in quieter settings.

Banff National Park Lodging

The great thing about staying in the park itself is that you could quite easily book a campsite at one of the hundreds of sites here, splurge on a nice lodge or cabin in the mountains, or go really fancy and book yourself a super luxurious cabin or suite. The choice of Banff National Park hotels is entirely yours!

Note that summer is also the most expensive season in Canada with accommodation regularly booking out 12 months in advance! So plan your Banff visit early enough so you can book your preferred lodging options.

Banff National Park Camping

For the budget traveller, we would personally recommend camping throughout your stay here at Banff National Park campsite options like Tunnel mountain campground or Two jack campground.

Banff National Park Hostels and Motels

Alternatively you could book the Samesun Hostel in Banff town.

For the mid-range budget traveller, the Moose Hotel and Suites are another great option on Banff Avenue that comes with great amenities, as well as being in the heart of town – a great option when looking for things to do in downtown Banff.

Banff National Park Resorts and Lodges

Go all the way with your luxury stay and book some of the top Banff National Park lodges, like either the Fairmont Banff springs hotel, or the Fairmont Chateau lake Louise about an hour from town.

Final thoughts on the 10 Best things to do in Banff in Summer

Whilst Banff might be a super popular tourist destination in Canada it’s also one of the most beautiful places you will ever come across. The best times of year largely depend on what you want to get out of your visit, however summer is generally busier and more expensive, whilst the fall from September onwards is less crowded but is when the larch trees turn from a lush green to a golden yellow. Winter time in Banff is spectacular as well but will require A LOT more layering to keep the arctic breeze off you!

Banff National Park Travel Tips

Here are some of our top Banff travel tips and recommendations:

  • Stop at a Banff National Park visitor center upon arrival to get a Banff National Park map, as well as the latest information about hiking trails, wildlife presence, and overall park information.
  • If you plan on hitting the trail, make sure to grab a Banff National Park hiking map before leaving!
  • Book your Banff National Park hotel or campsite early enough for the best selection and prices.


Guest Post Author

Chris and Laura Travels are an Australia’s Top Adventure Travel and Photography Blog living the laptop lifestyle since 2019. They’ve been travelling the world for years and are ‘a real couple doing cool stuff in a responsible way. You can find them all over the world photographing beautiful destinations, travelling sustainably bringing you the best travel guides from around the world.

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