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Best Canadian Rockies Itinerary
Visiting the Canadian Rockies for a few days and can’t decide what to do? We have put together the best Canadian Rockies itinerary for you! We know people like different things so, we made sure to add in different options!
Canadian Rockies Rafting has been around for many years, we have gotten to learn a lot about the area and what to do. We want to help you discover the Canadian Rockies and have fun. This itinerary is for 5 days, based out of Banff or Canmore.
1| DAY 1
Welcome to the beautiful Banff National Park! Today, you have a full day in front of you and we are making sure you make the most of it!
Then pack your picnic and head to the beautiful Johnston Canyon. You can drive there, but we recommend taking the bus as the parking fill up quickly. Once you arrive, you have 2 choices. You can first walk up to the Upper Falls, which is about 5km round trip. From there, you can either turn around or keep going to the Ink Pots, which adds an extra 6.4km round trip. The Ink Pots are small water pools with turquoise water. This is the perfect spot for your picnic.
The next stop is the Banff Gondola, which takes you up Sulphur Mountain. This is one of the most popular attractions of the Banff National Park. From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Banff townsite and the surrounding valley; while sitting around a fire pit with a beverage and live music. From July 9th to September 2nd, you can enjoy the Sunset Festival, which is a live-music festival with local artists, 7 nights a week from 7 pm to 10 pm.
2| DAY 2
Banff National Park has so many beautiful hikes, and today’s hike is a must-do.
The next stop is Lake Louise, a glacier-fed lake, located about an hour north of Banff. If you are coming from Canmore, you will have to drive to Lake Louise (keep in mind that it can be very hard to find a parking space), or drive to Banff and take a bus to the lake (the bus need to be booked in advanced). Once at the lake, there are many hikes, for different levels.
- Our first option, for beginner hikers, is to hike to Little Beehive via Lake Agnes Tea House. This is a moderate hike of 9 km with beautiful views of Lake Louise. The hike takes about 3 hours.
- The second option, for more experienced hikers, is to hike to Big Beehive and Devils Thumb. This is a 12.9km trail rated as difficult with even more breathtaking views of Lake Louise and Lake Agnes. The hike takes between 4 and 5 hours.
If you are driving, we recommend taking a detour to Moraine Lake on your way back. This is a breathtaking area and is only about 20 minutes away from Lake Louise. Parking is very limited there, so you might not have the chance to access it. If you came by bus, you can take the Lake Connector shuttle, so you can go from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake easily and free of charge.
Your legs need some rest? We have the perfect activity for you! Head to Lake Minnewanka and board a Beer Cruise at 5 pm. On this cruise, you get to spend 90 minutes cruising on the lake, while sipping beer and listening to the story of the lake and the area.
For the rest of the evening, take a stroll in Banff or Canmore and stop for food or drinks if you feel like it.
3| DAY 3
Start the day rafting the Bow River Horseshoe Canyon. This rafting adventure brings you on a class 2-4 river, for a lot of splash and fun. You even get to cliff jump from a 9ft or 30ft cliff. The tour starts at 8:15 am at the river base at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino. If you drive, you can meet at the river base or take our shuttle bus at Canmore Inn & Suites. If you are in Banff and do not drive, there is the bus n°3 from Banff to Canmore at 7 am which brings you close to Canmore Inn & Suites.
Once the tour is finished, head to Boundary Ranch, in Kananaskis, where you will go on a horseback riding tour. This is a 2 hours ride through beautiful forests and mountains. During the walk, you get to stop on the ridge to take a few photos. We’ve done it and it was a really good experience.
*If you don’t drive, you cannot do horseback riding as there is no shuttle to the ranch. You can, however, take part in our Raft & Rappel package. This canyoning adventure introduces you to short rappels and allows you to ease into rappelling and increase in length as you progress down the canyon, finally culminating with an exciting 60ft wet waterfall rappel and slide (optional: it is possible to hike around the lower falls).
After your big adventure, you can enjoy your night in Banff or Canmore.
4| DAY 4
Already on day 4 of your trip! Today is another hiking day.
Let’s head to Ha Ling Peak. This hike is a 7.2km out and back trail rated as hard on AllTrails. This is a steep hike with a rewarding view of Canmore and the sprawling Bow Valley and Spray Lakes Valley at the top. Be sure to check the weather and be prepared for all weather conditions, as the elements can change quickly in the mountains.
It’s now time to relax after this hard hike and what best way to relax than going swimming? Banff National Park has many lakes, and just 10 minutes from Banff Town is Johnson Lake, a non-glacier-fed lake. You can find stand-up paddles, canoes, floaties, and many swimmers in this lake. If the hike was not enough, you can even walk around the lake to find a more intimate spot. The loop is rated as an easy 3.1km trail.
Like the other days, you can enjoy Banff’s nightlife and restaurants in the evening, or have a barbecue at Cascade Ponds. If you are looking for good pizza, we recommend Bear Street Tavern in Banff and Grande Kitchen + Bar in Canmore.
5| DAY 5
Let’s have a slow and local day on your last day in the Canadian Rockies.
If you are staying in Canmore, let’s start by going to Grassi Lakes. Those lakes are accessible via an easy hike/walk. The Grassi Lakes are beautiful shallow turquoise lakes. Make sure to pack your picnic to enjoy your lunch surrounded by those beautiful colors. (If you are a climber, that could be a great opportunity to enjoy the lakes while climbing).
After Grassi Lakes, head towards Three Sisters Disc Golf Course where you can enjoy a 9 basket disc golf (also called frisbee golf, or “frolf”) course. This is actually a very fun activity to do with your friends, and you also get to be in the middle of the Three Sisters Mountains. The scenery is amazing. If you do not have any disc golf, make a stop at Switching Gear in Canmore, they sell some!
Finally, finish your day with a picnic at Quarry Lake. If it is hot, make sure to bring your swimsuit as you can swim in this lake! Don’t forget to make a last stop in one of the many bars in Canmore. (If you are here on a Wednesday and are still hungry after your picnic, go to the Drake for their wings night – $5/1lbs of wings)!
If you are located in Banff, start your day with a hike on Tunnel Mountain. This is a 4.5km round trip easy/moderate hike in the town of Banff. The mountain is not high but, you still get to enjoy beautiful views of both sides of the mountain, including Mount Rundle, Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, the town of Banff, and more!
Once you are finished your hike, take a stroll along the river to Bow Falls. You might spot elks on the way! If you feel like it, continue past Bow Falls into the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. The golf course is renowned for its spectacular scenery.
After hiking and strolling, it’s time to relax at the Banff Hot Springs. They are located near the Banff Gondola and offer beautiful views of the valley.
For your last evening, head to High Rollers on Banff Avenue to play some bowling or pool and enjoy one of their many beers on tap!
You are now ready for your 5 days road trip in the Canadian Rockies! If you are here for longer, we also recommend visiting the Columbia Icefield on the way to Jasper or go on an ATV tour.