The Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park | Alberta, Canada

The Best Places to Visit in Banff National Park | Alberta, Canada

Written by Julie Boyd | Photography by Julie Boyd

There is no shortage of beautiful scenery in Banff National Park.

Before flying up to Alberta, Canada, I spent a fair amount of time researching the best places to visit, and what the ideal times were for taking great photographs were, and how to avoid the crowds.

Here are what we consider to be the best places to visit in Banff, along with some tips for you to help you plan your trip.

Vermilion Lakes

Best Time to Visit: Sunset, or the late afternoon.

Located just outside the town of Banff, a series of three lakes lie along a system of marshland in the Bow Valley. Because of its calm waters, Vermilion Lakes is a  great spot to capture reflection images of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain.  best places to visit in Banff

Johnston Canyon

Best Time to Visit: Early morning (before 8:00 a.m.) or late afternoon (after 4:00 p.m.) to beat the crowds. A cloudy or overcast day is ideal for lighting)

Johnston canyon is perhaps the most popular hike in Banff, and for a good reason. The trail takes visitors along a limestone canyon that has been carved by a cascading creek over the years. The opportunities for seeing beautiful views are endless, and if you know where to look, you may even find a few secret spots along the trail. 🙂

best places to visit in Banff

Moraine Lake

Best Time to Visit: Sunrise – 9:00 a.m. Keep in mind that the road to Moraine Lake is only open from June – October.

This glacially fed lake was on the top of my Banff bucket list, and it’s easy to see why. The brilliant blue water abuts the craggy slopes of the Valley of Ten Peaks, creating a beautiful reflection early in the morning. At the sun rises, the water turns turquoise, creating even more opportunities to capture the changing light in this magical place. Brian wrote about our morning at Moraine Lake here.

best places to visit in Banff

Lake Louise

Best Time to Visit: Sunrise – 9:00 a.m.

Another stunning lake with breathtaking mounting reflections in the morning, and unbelievable blue hues brought to life by the sun reflecting off the rock flour on the water in the afternoon. If you are hoping to capture reflection shots, make sure you are here before the canoe rentals open up in the morning, as they disturb the calm waters once people start taking them out. For an areal perspective of the lake, we recommend hiking to the Plain of Six Glaciers, which you can read more about here.

best places to visit in Banff

Peyto Lake

Best Time to Visit: late morning – early afternoon on clear days.

You Photoshopped this picture, right? Nope, the water really is that blue. Mother nature is wonderful, and the turquoise hue of Peyto Lake is just as blue in this image as it is in person. I sat in awe at this vantage point from Bow Summit, and recommend that you do the same to if you are visiting Banff!

best places to visit in Banff

Banff National Park is truly one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited. Brian and I wish we could have spent a least another week or two exploring more of the natural beauty and adventures that lie in the Canadian Rockies. I guess we will just have to go back again soon! 🙂

For more tips and inspiration from the Canadian Rockies check out these posts:

Mt. Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier

Exploring Jasper National Park

An Afternoon in Yoho National Park

Driving the Icefields Parkway: Part I

Driving the Icefields Parkway: Part II

Shop Our Favorite Gear for this adventure:


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Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you place an order after clicking through those links, Brian and I get a small commission (this does not cost you anything extra!). This is not a sponsored post, all of the gear we mention was purchased by us, and all opinions are our own.

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