Greetings, fellow adventurers! We are Crazy Family Adventures, a dynamic family of travel enthusiasts with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. With years of RVing experience under our belts, we're excited to share our insights, tips, and thrilling escapades with you. Join us on a journey through Banff National Park, where we'll unravel the secrets to a perfect RV adventure. From choosing the best campgrounds to crafting your dream itinerary and diving into unforgettable activities, let us be your compass on this exciting expedition. Get ready to turn every moment into a memory and make your Banff adventure truly extraordinary!
Looking for an unforgettable RV getaway surrounded by stunning landscapes and endless adventures? Look no further than Banff National Park. This natural gem offers an extraordinary escape, and with the right tips and tricks, your journey will be seamless and unforgettable. Get ready to explore the beauty of Banff and the surrounding area from the comfort of your RV.
What Time Of Year To Visit
It is best to visit Banff in the warmer summer months of July and August. However, the summer can be busy, so late May/early June or early September are also good options. Just be aware that it can snow almost any time of year in Banff - but if it happens in the summer or late spring, or early fall, it usually melts within a day or two.
We visited in late May/early June, and it was beautiful weather and no wildfires. But some of the activities weren’t kicking off in late May, and places like the tea houses in Lake Louise weren’t open until the first week in June. Late May is less busy, so there is a trade-off. For this reason, research to determine what you want to do and when things will be open before planning your trip.
Where To Stay In Banff National Park
You will want to stay in the Banff National Park campgrounds when you visit Banff. Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court is where we always stay. All sites are full hookups. Plus, there are shuttle buses that pick you up at the campground that takes you into Banff and around the National Park.
Some other options have electric only or no hookups. But we recommend the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court - the whole name matters as the other campgrounds are called Tunnel Mountain Village. Learn more about campgrounds in Banff.
These campgrounds are very popular, so check the Banff National Park site to see when campground reservations are opening for the time you are going. If they say they open at 8 am on a particular day—be ready at 8 am to book your site to get your desired spot!
Overview of Banff National Park and Surrounding Area
Now that you have your dates and know what campground to book, here is an overview of Banff National Park. The national park in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains covers 2,563 square miles. In the park, you will find mountains, glaciers, icefields, forests, and alpine landscapes. Plus, a fabulous town: Banff, with many gorgeous lakes, hotels, tea houses, and so much to explore!
Lake Louise, about 50 minutes from the Tunnel Court Trailer Court Campground, is also part of Banff National Park and should be on your list of places to visit. You can also camp in Lake Louise, and if you want to spend multiple days exploring here, we recommend doing that.
The Icefields Parkway and the Columbia Icefields Adventure are other must-do while visiting Banff. You can opt to visit from Banff, but note it will take you well over 2 hours to get here from Banff. Doable in a day, but it will include a lot of driving. If you have limited time in Banff, leave, stop in Lake Louise, and continue to the Columbia Icefields Adventure. Lake Louise is on the way.
Crafting Your Banff Journey: Our Suggested Itinerary
If you have more time, we recommend:
- 5 days in Banff National Park
- 3 days in Lake Louise
- 1 day driving the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Icefields Adventure and continuing to Jasper National Park
- 4 days in Jasper National Park
Of course, you can stay longer or shorter in each spot. But overall, we recommend having at least 1 full day (2 nights) at each location. There is ample RV parking at the Columbia Icefields Adventure, so you can drive, park your RV, do the adventure, and continue to Jasper National Park in 1 day.
To spend the night in Jasper. Or you can boondock in the parking lot at the Columbia Icefields Adventure - which gives you gorgeous views of the Athabasca Glacier and only costs about $14 USD a night! You will want to stay at the Lake Louise Hard-Sided Campground, which has electric hookups and a dump station. Learn more about the campground.
In Jasper National Park, we recommend the Whistler Campground - they have partial and full hookups, and the campground is one of our favorites!!
Things To Do In Banff National Park
You could spend months exploring Banff and not do everything! Below is our list of top picks for things to do in Banff National Park.
- Banff Gondola—The Banff Gondola is a great first thing to do when you visit Banff. It brings you up Sulphur Mountain, and you can look over Banff. It helps you to get familiar with the area. It also has breathtaking views from the top, and you can do a short hike, eat at one of the restaurants, explore the interactive exhibits, or grab a coffee. Then sit back with your coffee to take in the views from one of the multiple viewing areas - equipped with chairs.
- Lake Minnewanka—Head to Lake Minnewanka to do the boat cruise that takes you out on the gorgeous blue glacier water. While on the water, learn about the surrounding area and the First Nation people who lived on the lake. When in Banff, you have to get out on the water! If you don’t want to do a boat cruise, you could also rent kayaks to head out on the lake.
- Horseback Riding—Horseback riding through the gorgeous Banff scenery is a fun way to see the park from a different perspective. The Banff Trail Riders offer multiple options, from a short 1-hour ride to multi-day rides. They also offer a Cowboy cookout where you can ride horses to get there or take a covered wagon ride.
- Rafting—Rafting is another fun way to see a different side of Banff. You can raft down the Kananaskis River on a nice, family-friendly trip. There are still rapids, but nothing too crazy or opt for one of their more adventurous options. The river and bank are beautiful, and it is a fun way to see Banff!
- Golden Skybridge—If you are up for an adventurous day and don’t mind driving a few hours from Banff to the Golden Skybridge, we highly recommend this activity. With their Adventure Pass, you can go rope climbing, on the mountain coaster, and zipline across the canyon! There are also 2 suspension bridges, a play area for kids, kids rock climbing, axe throwing, and a place where you can get food and drinks. It is a 2-hour drive from Banff, but the drive is beautiful!
- Johnston Canyon Hike—The lower Johnston Canyon hike is gorgeous and is only 1.4 miles round trip. If you only do one hike in Banff, do this one! If you want a more challenging hike, you can do the Upper Johnston Canyon hike, which is 3.3 miles round trip.
- Cave and Basin Historical Site—Be sure to make time to stop at the Cave and Basin Historic Site to learn how Banff National Park started and the hot springs that originate here. You pay an entrance fee, and you can walk around to explore, including going into the cave and seeing the hot springs. Plus, they have a room with a giant movie screen that gives you information on the area.
- Cascade Of Time Garden—If you want a nice quiet place to walk, head to the Cascade of Time Garden in downtown Banff.
- Banff Upper Hot Springs—If you want to get into the hot springs water, head to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Just be prepared; it is usually busy. So you most likely won’t be having a quiet soak.
- Explore Downtown Banff—There is a park in downtown Banff, multiple restaurants, shops, a brewery, and gorgeous mountain views. You can head to a rooftop spot to enjoy lunch or dinner. Grab an ice cream and walk around the park. Head to the brewery to sit outside on the sidewalk and enjoy a beer. No matter what you want to do, plan to spend at least a few hours exploring downtown Banff.
- Lake Louise—When you visit Banff, you can’t miss Lake Louise. The watercolor with the mountains behind doesn’t even seem real! If the weather is nice, you can take a kayak out on the gorgeous water, or you can opt to walk around the lake. In Lake Louise, you will also find the 2 Tea Houses hike. Plain of 6 Glaciers teahouse is a more challenging hike with amazing views out over Lake Louise and the Chateau. You will cover about 9 miles with an almost 2000-foot elevation gain, so be prepared! Be sure to check that the Tea House and the trail are open. Lake Agnes Tea House is a shorter hike. We love these hikes since you work hard to get there, and once there, you can sit in the tea house to enjoy tea and some delicious pastries!
- Icefields Parkway—You can return to Banff or continue to the Icefields Parkway. Note this is over a 2-hour drive to the Columbia Icefield Adventure from downtown Banff (about 90 minutes from Lake Louise). But it is well worth the drive. For both the scenery and the adventure! Be prepared to stop at pull-offs to take pictures as you are driving. And for the 2 ½ hour Columbia Icefield Adventure, you will walk on a Glacier and do the Skywalk.
- Jasper National Park—After the Icefield Parkway, you can return to Banff or continue your trip to Jasper National Park. There is plenty of parking at the Columbia Icefield Adventure if you want to take your RV, and the Icefield Parkway is safe for RVs to drive on.
Embark on Your Banff RV Adventure Today
Banff National Park promises a journey of natural marvels and unforgettable experiences. From RV-friendly campgrounds to awe-inspiring vistas, your Banff adventure awaits. Pack your sense of wonder, and let the road lead you to a world of beauty and discovery. Start planning your RV trip to Banff National Park today!