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5 Things to Know Before Travelling to Banff

5 Things to Know Before Travelling to Banff

Last month, we hopped in the car and drove about eight hours north to Banff, AB. And let me tell you- it was worth every minute in the car. Before departing, we did as much research as we could. None of us had ever been to Banff, though we had heard remarkable things about it, and the last time we had been to Canada was years prior.

After all our research, we felt prepared and ready to go. Yet, after all our adventures in Banff, there are a few things our research did not yield- but we wish we would have known and been more aware of prior. In order to help you on your trip to Banff, we have accumulated this list of 5 Things to Know Before Travelling to Banff:

  1. Trails are well marked and maintained

When looking for things to do in Banff we came across some incredible trails. With all of these trails, however, we always had 2 questions:

  • How easily accessible were they?
  • What was the condition of them?

Since we went to Banff in winter, these questions were even more important to have answered. Luckily for us though, upon arrival we discovered the answers to both. All the trails are well-marked and easily accessible from the highways. Once you are on the trails, they are also very well marked and maintained- even in the heart of winter! We also learned that all trail conditions are updated regularly online at:

I highly recommend checking all trails before going out- especially in winter! Things can change very quickly, and you want to be as prepared as possible.

Lake Louise, Cross Country Skiing, Cross Country Skiing at Lake Louise, Fairview Loop

  1. Dog friendly

On our first hike in Banff, we went to the iconic Johnston Canyon. While on the trails we passed many dogs also out enjoying the beauty of the canyon. After asking around, we discovered the trails are also open to our four-legged friends!

The only catch: they must stay on a leash and you must pick up after them!

  1. Metric system

Canada, like the rest of the world, uses the metric system. While we were well aware of this before heading north, we didn’t do nearly enough research on the conversions between the metric system and the standard system we use in the states. The largest challenge we had was on the trails themselves. Instead of miles, they were in kilometers and meters.

For your reference, here is the conversion between the two:

mile to metric conversion

  1. Be Prepared for Anything

When we travelled to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons National Parks, at the major trail heads there was stores with food, souvenirs, refillable water stations, and gear if needed. This was not the case in Banff. None of these amenities are available at the trail heads, at least the ones we visited. There were some things available though:

  • At nearly every trail head, there was a bathroom of some sort- even if it was just a pit bathroom
  • There are liter cans everywhere to drop your trash in. They are alongside the highways driving throughout Canada and at the trail heads

Moral of the story: be prepared for anything and everything. Bring food, water, maps, and gear with you before you depart on your adventure.

  1. Locals know best

While we were exploring downtown Canmore, we hit a jackpot. At the visitor center we discovered brochures, flyers, and magazines full of valuable information about trails, things to do, maps- everything we needed to know, for free!

Most of the trails we found in these booklets were ones we didn’t find online. They also were all catered to the winter months and had information about where to find trail conditions and avalanche information. Here is the booklet we highly recommend:

Where Visitor Guide BanffNote: We have not been able to find these books online, but if you go to any visitor center they should be available there!

Asking locals for their recommendations is also a fantastic way to get an insight on the area. After all, locals do know best!

Banff is an incredible place, and I highly recommend you make the trip at least once in your life. Keep in mind that these tips are just from our experiences, I hope you too are able to use them on your next wilder adventure!

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3 Comments on "5 Things to Know Before Travelling to Banff"

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Great tips! It’s been years since I’ve been to Banff but currently planning a trip back there this summer. Going to keep these in mind!

Julianne Thompson

I don’t have any immediate plans to go to Banff, but it’s for sure on my list! Thanks for the great tips!


Great tips, sadly not ones I will likely take up any time soon, being the wrong side of the Atlantic. But the last one, “locals know best” is great advice for most locations.