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Discover the Best Summer Activities in Canmore and Banff, Alberta 

Banff Canmore Alberta

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore and Banff, Alberta, offer an idyllic summer escape with an abundance of outdoor activities, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant local culture. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a nature enthusiast, or someone looking for a relaxing getaway, these charming towns provide endless opportunities for summer fun. Here is a comprehensive guide to the best summer activities in Canmore and Banff, Alberta. 

Hiking and Nature Walks 

Canmore and Banff National Park are renowned for their extensive network of hiking trails, catering to all levels of fitness and experience. 

Top Hiking Trails: 

Johnston Canyon: This family-friendly hike features a series of catwalks leading to impressive waterfalls. The Lower Falls can be reached in about 1.1 kilometers (0.7 miles), while the Upper Falls are 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) from the trailhead. 

Sulphur Mountain: Offering panoramic views of Banff and the Bow Valley, this hike is a bit more challenging but can be shortened by taking the Banff Gondola down after reaching the summit. 

Grassi Lakes Trail: Located in Canmore, this 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) trail is known for its beautiful turquoise lakes and picturesque views of the surrounding mountains. 

Grassi Lakes

Ha Ling Peak: For a more challenging hike, ascend Ha Ling Peak for a rewarding view over Canmore and the Bow Valley. 

Wildlife Viewing 

The Canadian Rockies are teeming with wildlife, and summer is a prime time to spot animals in their natural habitat. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times for wildlife viewing. 

Common Wildlife Sightings: 

Elk: Frequently seen grazing in meadows and along roadsides. 

Bighorn Sheep: Often found on rocky slopes and near roadways. 

Grizzly and Black Bears: Best observed from a safe distance; parks often have viewing platforms or guided tours. 

Birdwatching: The region is home to a diverse bird population, including bald eagles, ospreys, and various songbirds. 

Animals in Alberta

In Banff National Park, drive along the Bow Valley Parkway, 1A, for excellent chances to see a variety of wildlife.  

In Canmore, walk along Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk or drive up to the Spray Lakes Reservoir and continue onwards along Hwy 742 (Spray Lakes Road) and back onto Hwy 40 for an opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat, including Moose and Mountain Goats. 

Water Activities 

With pristine lakes and rivers surrounding the area, Canmore and Banff are perfect for water-based activities. 

Popular Water Activities: 

Canoeing and Kayaking: Paddle on the blue waters of Lake Louise or Moraine Lake for an unforgettable experience. With boat rentals directly at the shoreline, you do not have to worry about transport for the rental. Get in and enjoy.  

Paddleboarding: Venture out to the reservoir by the Canmore Nordic Centre or drive up to Two Jack Lake or Johnson Lake for an easy, gentle paddle. Not to mention that there are 360-degree mountain views at all locations.  

Whitewater Rafting: To kick it up a notch for adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers, Whitewater Rafting on the Kananaskis River or the Bow River offers thrilling class 2-4 rapids and spectacular scenery. Check out all tour options and details with Canadian Rockies Rafting. 

Class 4 river

Float Tours: Relax as you float down the Bow River taking in the 360-degree mountain views and learn about the history of the area and how Banff and Canmore became what we know it today. 

Fishing: Enjoy fly-fishing in the Bow River, known for its healthy populations of trout. 

Mountain Biking 

Both Canmore and Banff boast a variety of mountain biking trails that cater to all skill levels. 

Notable Mountain Biking Areas: 

Mountain Biking

Canmore Nordic Centre: Offers over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of trails, including both cross-country and technical single-track. 

Tunnel Mountain: In Banff, this area provides a mix of trails with stunning views of the town and surrounding mountains. 

Climbing and Bouldering 

The rugged terrain of the Rockies is a climber’s paradise, with numerous climbing and bouldering spots. 

Popular Climbing Spots: 

Ha Ling Peak: A well-known spot in Canmore, offering routes for both traditional and sport climbers. 

Banff’s Cascade Mountain: Offers challenging routes with rewarding views. 

Scenic Drives 

For those who prefer a more leisurely way to take in the beauty of the Rockies, scenic drives offer breathtaking vistas and numerous photo opportunities. 

Must-See Drives: 

Icefields Parkway: Stretching from Banff to Jasper, this route is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world, featuring glaciers, turquoise lakes, and towering peaks. 

Bow Valley Parkway: A slower, more relaxed drive connecting Banff and Lake Louise, ideal for spotting wildlife. 

Peyto Lake

Cultural and Historical Experiences 

Canmore and Banff are rich in history and culture, offering various activities that provide insight into the region’s heritage. 

Cultural Highlights: 

Banff Park Museum: This national historic site highlights the flora and fauna of the Rockies. 

Whyte Museum: Located in Banff, it features exhibits on the cultural heritage and history of the Canadian Rockies. 

Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre: Learn about Canmore’s mining history and geological significance. 

Relaxation and Wellness 

For those seeking relaxation, the area’s natural beauty also serves as a backdrop for wellness activities. 

Relaxation Spots: 

Banff Upper Hot Springs: Soak in the mineral-rich waters with stunning mountain views. 

Spas: Both Canmore and Banff have numerous spas offering massages, facials, and other wellness treatments. There is no shortage if you are looking to pamper yourself. 

Yoga: Many local studios offer yoga classes, often held outdoors during the summer months. 

Festivals and Events 

Summer is festival season in Canmore and Banff, with events celebrating everything from music and art to sports and local cuisine. 

Notable Festivals: 

Banff Summer Arts Festival: Features performances, workshops, and exhibitions by artists from around the world. 

Canmore Folk Music Festival: A popular event displaying folk music artists in a beautiful outdoor setting. 

Canada Day Celebrations: Both towns host parades, fireworks, and family-friendly activities on July 1st. Check out the local official town website for the most up to date information.  

Weekly Farmer’s Market: Brows the fresh fruits, bake goods, meats, jams, and coffees, as well as, crafts, clothing, jewelry and much more weekly in Banff on Wednesdays and Canmore on Thursdays. Have a chance to taste for first bite of Bison or find that perfect souvenir to remember your time in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. 

Farmers Market

Culinary Experiences 

Exploring the local cuisine is a must when visiting Canmore and Banff. 

Dining Highlights: 

Farm-to-Table Restaurants: Enjoy fresh, locally sourced dishes at eateries like The Bison and Crazyweed Kitchen

Bakeries and Cafes: Treat yourself to homemade pastries and coffee at establishments such as Wild Flour Bakery and Communitea Café

Breweries and Distilleries: Sample local craft beers and spirits at places like Canmore Brewing Company or Sheepdog Brewery and Park Distillery or Wildlife Distillery

Tips for Visiting Canmore and Banff in Summer 

Plan Ahead: Summer is peak tourist season, so booking accommodations and activities in advance is recommended. 

Be Weather Prepared: The weather can be unpredictable in the mountains, so bring layers and be prepared for sudden changes. 

Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals and follow park guidelines to ensure their safety and yours. 

Stay Hydrated: The elevation and outdoor activities can be dehydrating, so drink plenty of water. 

Canmore and Banff, Alberta, offer an unparalleled summer experience with a blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural richness. Whether you are hiking through breathtaking landscapes, paddling on crystal-clear lakes, or exploring local history and cuisine, these towns provide a perfect summer getaway for all types of travelers. Embrace the beauty and wonder of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and create memories that will last a lifetime.