My friends and I just completed our annual girls’ hiking trip in Banff, Canada! We spent four days camping and hiking in the park. The town of Banff is in the middle of the park and it is adorable! These are the activities we completed that were near town.
Johnston Canyon Hike
After we got our tent set up at our campsite our first day, we headed to Johnston Canyon. It was around 5pm when we arrived, which was perfect timing. I had read that the parking lot fills up quickly in the mornings. Several spots were open when we got there. There are three major stopping points along the hike: Lower Johnston Falls, Upper Johnston Falls, and the Ink Pots.
The length to the Lower Falls is 1.1 km, 2.6 km to the Upper Falls, and 5.6 km to the Ink Pots. We decided to play it by ear and see how we felt as we went along to determine where we would turn around.
When we started the hike, it was fairly busy. The path is paved the entire way and very easy with little elevation change. It kind of reminded me of the Narrows hike we did in Zion last year, where you are hiking through a canyon along a river. However, instead of hiking in the river, they’ve built an elevated path attached to the side of the canyon that allows you to look down on the river and stay dry.
We arrived at the lower falls, which were really cool because you walk through a small cave to get to the best viewpoint. The point is so close to the falls that you can feel the mist!
On the walk from the lower falls to the upper falls, there is a wonderful spot where you can get off the paved path and go down to the river. This is the view I’d seen so many pictures of, and my favorite part of the hike! We spent about 30 minutes exploring down here and taking pictures.
We continued our walk to the upper falls, which is about 30 minutes from the lower falls. There was just a small viewing area to see the falls, so we continued on to the next stop, which is at the top of the falls looking down. There was hardly anyone up there, and my guess is that most people turned around after the upper falls. We ate the sandwiches we brought up with us and then headed back down.
This was a fun hike, and easily accessible to anyone who enjoys hiking. It was crowded enough for me in the evening, so I can’t imagine how busy it would be mid-day. I suggest coming in the evening or early morning!
We finished the hike around 8 and the sun didn’t set until 9:30. The drive up to Mount Norquay is about 30 minutes from Johnston Canyon, back towards town. We got to the top and set up to take pictures of the sunset. The sunset wasn’t anything spectacular that night, but the view sure was! You could see all of town, the surrounding mountains, and lakes below. There were only a few other groups of people here, so we got to enjoy the scenery in peace.
Upper Hot Springs
The hot springs are commercially developed, so you are essentially in a very large hot tub with a hundred other people. I wasn’t crazy about how crowded it was, but we went here on our last evening, so it felt great to soak after a long three days of hiking. It wasn’t too expensive ($8 per adult), and they have towels that you can rent. The locker rooms were very nice, and had showers, lockers with locks that were included in the cost, and even a swimsuit dryer! The view from the pool was awesome, and you could see all of the surrounding mountains.
Check out my video below on our time in Banff!