Banff National Park is filled with hiking trails, wild life and beautiful blue/green lakes! We stayed right outside of Banff in a town called Canmore. We loved Canmore because it had a lot of hiking trails as well! If you stay in Canmore, it’s significantly cheaper than staying in Banff and is only a 15 minute drive away!
Tip: Use Airbnb to save some money on lodging. Here’s a code that can get you $40 off your first stay!
We started Day 1 by waking up SUPER early to get to Lake Louise by 7am. Parking fills up very quickly and if you don’t make it by 7-8am then you may have to park in the overflow parking. This can be a pain because you’ll have to pay for the shuttle and ride 5 minutes up the road to the Lake.
We took some pictures at the lake before all the crowds came, went into the hotels cafe for some tea and then headed to the Agnes Tea House hike.
This hike is about 5 miles round trip and can be steep in some parts. But this hike is so worth it! At the top of the hike, when you get to Agnes Lake, there is a tea house! We did have to wait a bit of time but the views from the tea house were amazing! The staff has to hike up to the tea house everyday and supplies are only helicoptered up to the tea house once a year. Because of this, they have no running water or electricity. So cash only!
Tip: Get the mountain bar…it’s SO good! Big enough to split between 2 people
After the tea house we hiked back down to Lake Louise. If you are feeling up to it, you can do more hikes at Agnes Lake. Once back down, we did walk the shoreline of Lake Louise.
Tip: I would NOT recommend spending $120 CAD on canoeing at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake. Instead, go to the beautiful Emerald Lake and canoe there for $70 CAD like we did!
After finishing up at Lake Louise, we decided to head to Minniewonka Lake. This is a great place to go swimming, take a boat cruise or have a cookout with your family! We pitched a hammock, had a picnic lunch and relaxed for a bit!
Afterwards, we walked to Stewart Canyon.
Tip: Make sure you carry bear spray on your hikes! Our Airbnb gave us one to use for free but you can rent a can if needed too!
We then drove back into town to ride the Banff Gondola. You take an 8 minute ride up the mountain to a beautiful lodge where you can dine at their restaurants, watch a short film on Banff and also hike up to the old Radio wave tower!
Tip: Order your gondola tickets online to avoid waiting in lines! Also go after 5pm to get a discounted ticket price!
If you are feeling up to it, you could walk around downtown Banff or go to the hot springs!
We got up bright and early again to head to Johnston Canyon! Make sure you hike both the lower and upper falls! This trail is paved the whole way.
We then headed to Grassi Lakes and hiked up the “more difficult” side. This side is quicker but does have very steep steps and rocks to climb up! Once we got to Grassi Lakes, we explore both lakes and then continued up the steep steps to a 3rd lake.
We then took the “easier” route down. After this, we decided to explore where we were staying in Canmore! You can walk along the river or pick one of the many hiking trails Canmore has to offer! We decided to hike Tunnel Canyon which is uphill switchbacks the entire way up. But you will give amazing views of all of Banff!
Of course we pitched a hammock here too!
We were building up an appetite at this point so we decided to get some poutine from 514 poutine in Canmore. This place is AMAZING! We enjoyed the chicken, mushrooms, onion and bacon one!
Since we were to close to the 3 sisters peak, we decided to drive the scenic route and take in all the views!
We ended the evening with some ice cream from a school bus! Please note they only take cash!
We woke up super early again to get Moraine Lake. Unfortunately you need to get the parking lot by 6am to secure a spot. We arrived at 7am so we had to take a shuttle from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake. This was a bit of a hassle because you have to pay for the shuttle and it doesn’t start running until 8:40am. We had to get in line at 7:30 am and waited an hour for a ticket for 9am. We saw all day this line being long. I would recommend doing Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the same day but just selecting a later time slot for Moraine Lake while you explore Lake Louise. On the way back from Moraine Lake, you do have to transfer to another bus at the overflow parking.
Lake Moraine has the rock scramble overlook, the shoreline hike and a few other hikes to do there as well! You could easily spend a few hours there!
Afterwards, it took us an hour to get back to our car and we headed to Yoho National Park to explore Emerald Lake.
Emerald Lake is a gorgeous bright blue lake where we canoed for an hour, hiked the whole perimeter of the lake (3ish miles) and has a great gift shop with delicious maple fudge!
Tip: Canoe here instead of the popular lakes. It was only $70 CAD to canoe here!
Afterwards, we drove the the Wapta Falls to hike. This trail has some steep parts at the end but is overall a pretty easy trail! It is about 3 miles Roundtrip!
So that was our 3 days in Banff! I know we could have seen even more but I think we did a lot! What did we miss?!
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