My friend and I checked into the Lodges at Canmore, only a 15-minute walk from downtown Canmore where all of the shops and restaurants are. The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, especially when my phone charger stopped working halfway through vacation, and they let me borrow one of theirs!
Visiting Banff National Park during the summer months promises the best hiking weather, but it’s also important to know that the popular spots such as Moraine Lake and Lake Louise fill up very early. Thankfully, there’s an overflow parking lot a few miles from the town of Lake Louise and buses arrive to and from every fifteen minutes.
Seeing Moraine Lake in person was an incredible experience. For this view, you’ll want to take the Rockpile Trail, an easy 10-minute walk up carved out steps. The sky began to clear after a day of rain, so we decided to rent a canoe and head out on the water! This was easily one of the highlights of the entire trip. Being out there on the lake was surreal, paddling through the bright blue water while the sun began to warm us up. Weather in the summer is generally chilly in the mornings and gets up to around 75F by the mid-afternoon so you'll want to layer your clothing!
We booked a summer kennel tour to meet over 180 sled dogs, which was one of my favorite things! If you’re a dog lover, I highly recommend doing this. The dogs were so excited to greet us and give lots of kisses. We learned about the sledding they do in the winter along with their training schedule, and even got to meet the newest litter of pups! The tour was close to two hours long and transportation to the kennel was provided.
After being dropped back off in Canmore, we headed over to Riverside Park where you can enjoy a walking trail along the Bow River and gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies! The Bow River is 365 miles long in total. You can take a river float, try paddle-boarding, or fishing too!
We woke up early, made breakfast, and began our next hike of the day. The town of Banff is about 20 minutes north of Canmore and an easy drive. Johnston Canyon is a short ride from Banff and a nice hike through the canyon with some beautiful waterfalls. This photo is from the Lower Falls trail. It wasn’t as crowded here compared to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, but if you are visiting, definitely get there by 10am before it gets too crowded with people stopping to take photos since the trail is narrower in certain areas.
After spending the morning hiking, we headed to the town of Banff to explore. I loved how each street had one of these markers like Wolf Street. Banff is similar to Canmore, although more touristy. There are buses that will take you to different hiking spots, plus the famous Banff Gondola to see panoramic views of the surrounding mountains! The town feels very European in a sense that all of the shops have traditional wooden signs out front, potted flowers everywhere, and buildings modeled after small villages with wooden accents that are only two or three stories high.
After a delicious breakfast at a local French bakery, we headed into town for the Canmore Mountain Market, held every Thursday from 10am-6pm during the summer and into early fall. Aside from your typical fruits and vegetables being sold, there were also local vendors selling handmade jewelry, winter accessories, plus fresh coffee and delicious crepes! I ended up purchasing a crocheted hat from a vendor so that I’d be prepared for our next adventure – the Athabasca Glacier walk!
Our last full day was spent traveling a few hours north to the Athabasca Glacier and Glacier Skywalk near the Columbia Icefield. I’ve seen glaciers before in Alaska, but walking on one was a unique experience! I wore my hiking boots for extra traction and layered on clothing since it was obviously much colder up there. I’m really glad I purchased that hat the day before!
After a short bus ride to the drop-off location, we climbed aboard this impressive ice explorer! These vehicles are made especially for traversing frozen areas and getting everyone there safely. After taking photos on the glacier, we were bused to the Glacier Skywalk, a glass walkway and overlook that’s suspended 918ft in the air! Tours are available from mid-April through mid-October.
Overall, my visit to Banff exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait to visit again! I enjoyed the food, the hospitality of the locals, and our room accommodations. I highly recommend this destination for outdoors enthusiasts and nature lovers of all ages. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and the kind of place that will keep you coming back.