Updated: Jun 7, 2019
I just got back from 5 days in Alberta. As strange as it sounds, here are some firsts about this trip to Canada:
I have never flown into Canada. Living in Washington, you have Canada right in your back yard. I have always driven to Vancouver B.C., Whistler or taken a ferry over to Victoria.
I have never been to any other Canadian Province besides British Columbia.
I have been 'pinning' Banff National Park photos to my Pinterest for a while now. The opportunity came up for me to be able to take a small family vacation to do some hiking and explore! If you live in the PNW and are looking to check this place off your bucket list, you can do it pretty easily! A flight from Seattle is only 1 hour 30 minutes (give or take a few minutes) and you can usually get flights under $275!
In order to properly explore Banff National Park (or beyond), you will need to rent a car.
Check Costco Travel for amazing rental deals.
If you are renting a car, you will need a park pass to visit anything within Banff National Park. You have to pay per passenger in your vehicle.
If you are traveling with more than 3 people for longer than 3 days, buy the family pass.
Visit this website to pre-purchase the pass.
What areas are considered Banff National Park
The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbors to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial center of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.
Here are the 5 Different Things I would recommend doing in Banff National Park
1. Lake Louise
This is an obvious choice, but make sure you visit early as this is a hot spot for tour buses and people looking to get a photo in front of the beautiful turquoise lake.
2. Lake Agnes Tea House Hike
This may also be something you have seen in photos. It is about 5 miles round trip and you climb about 7,500 feet. I am not a huge hiker, but my brother is so he kept us motivated to get to the top and to see the tea house. If you missed my post from last week, you can learn all about the hike here: Lake Agnes Tea House Hike
3. Johnston Canyon Hike
There are several milestones on this hike. I just did the lower canyon, which I thought was SUPER cool! The quick 20 min walk to the lower falls leads you deep in the canyon along a pathway that parallels the river!
4. Shop and Eat in downtown Banff
Looking to relax one day? The town of Banff is compact, on one main drag, and easily walkable. We enjoyed eating at several different places like: Rose & Crown Pub, Chaya, Banff Brewing Co., Good Earth and hung out at Boston's Pizza to watch the Liverpool / Real Madrid soccer match. There is also no shortage of souvenir shops and retail shops as well.
5. Athabasca Glacier
Want to view a glacier up close and personal? Stop off at the Athabasca glacier, walk up a steep hill (with some snow if you go in the spring) and it is staring you right in the face. The glacier was melting when we were visiting so there was a fast stream of water when we visited.
If you haven't, make sure you plan a trip to visit Banff National Park!