Summer is high season in Banff. It's a time of year when visitors from around the world descend on the mountain town for hiking, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and golfing.
The tail end of the summer is one of the most special times in the Canadian Rockies. While the alpine lakes retain their famous blue colours, larch trees turn a golden hue and offer a breathtaking scene. September presents a relatively crowd-free time to explore the mountains, while temperatures remain warm enough to enjoy all the summer activities the area has to offer.
For many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal to a Glacier. The Athabasca Glacier is located on the Icefields Parkway, a 2.5 hour drive from Banff, that will leave you breathless all the way to the Icefields. Take a giant Ice Explorer and during this unique 80 minute journey, you’ll learn how glaciers are formed and see other incredible geological features.
The Glacier Adventure operates from mid April to mid October inclusive (weather permitting). Tours depart every 15 minutes.
The Glacier Discovery Centre, located on the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks, offers interpretive exhibits, interpretive scenic walks, self guided trails, dining room, cafeteria, gift shop and over night accommodation.More Information
The Banff canoe docks are conveniently situated approximately 200 metres from Banff Park Lodge. Explore the surroundings by canoe by taking a trip down to Vermillion Lakes. Bring a picnic and some binoculars as this is a great place to bird watch and spot bald eagles as they plummet into the lake. Alternatively, work your way up the Bow River and let the current bring you back to town. Canoes are also available to rent at the Faimont Chateau Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Lodge.More Information
Take an 8 minute ride in a safe, glass enclosed gondola as you ride up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Savour 360 degree spectacular views of the majestic rocky peaks that surround Banff as your eyes focus to Lake Minnewanka in the distance.
Enjoy lunch at the Summit Restaurant or dine at the Panorama Restaurant. If you are feeling adventurous you can hike up the Vista Trail Boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak or to the true summit of Sulphur Mountain on the South East Ridge Trail.More Information
Experience the mountains the way travelers have since the beginning of time: on horseback. Numerous riding tours, trail guides and riding clubs in the Banff area allow you to tailor a day trip or overnight experience to satisfy your Canadian West dream. Tours can include BBQ lunches to a fully prepared campsite complete with all your needs.
Banff National Park boasts thousands of kilometres of hiking trails, for all ages and hiking abilities. Popular trails close to downtown Banff include Fenland Trail, an easy 2km loop, and Tunnel Mountain a moderate 2.3km hike that offers spectacular 360 degree views over Banff and its valley. With moderately steep switchbacks, this small summit is most definitely worth the effort. For more hiking trail information, including current trail conditions, please visit the Banff Visitor Centre on 224 Banff Avenue upon your arrival.More Information
For your ultimate mountain experience! Want to get closer to the Rocky Mountain peaks without having to pull out your hiking boots? Helicopter Tours are available in Canmore at Alpine Helicopters. If you are looking for heli-hiking, check out CMH! Take a step beyond the ordinary with sightseeing air tours for a once in a lifetime unforgettable experience. Fly over ageless glaciers in a remote and breathless world of majestic mountains.More Information
Banff National Park consists of over 190kms of mountain bike trails and various road riding opportunities. The biking season typically runs from May to October, and the trails range from easy to difficult. For all your biking and accessories rentals you can find numerous shops in town, including Banff Adventures Unlimited, Bactrax, Soul and Mountain Magic.
The Banff Legacy Trail, completed in 2010, was built to commemorate Parks Canada 125th Anniversary. This 3 metre wide, 22km long commuter trail is a suitable trail for families and cyclists of all abilities. You will enjoy the breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains as it runs parallel to the Trans Canada Highway.
Vermillion Lakes Road is the perfect bike ride to pack a picnic and set up at one of the 3 shallow lakes surrounded by marshlands. From here you will capture the magnificent and classic view of Rundle Mountain with Vermillion Lakes. This is an easy trail that provides beautiful views.More Information
Reputed as one of the best golf courses in the world, The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course consists of the best 27 holes you’ll potentially golf in your lifetime. Located below the historical and beautiful Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, you will find yourself admiring the views of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain, as you play each hole along the Bow River.
After ticking Banff Springs Golf Course off your list, you also are at the gateway to three other courses that are also unique and breathtakingly beautiful.
Nearby Canmore offers the choice of two beautiful golf courses in. Stewart Creek Golf Course, offers amazing vistas of Three Sisters, Cascade, Pigeon and Ha Ling Mountains. Silvertip Resort has a beautiful par 72 course with 600 feet of elevation change and championship tees.
Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course is located where the foothills meet the Canadian Rockies, 45 minutes west of Calgary, and 15 minutes east of Canmore. This golf course lies at the base of Yamnuska Mountain on the Brewster family’s 90-year-old guest ranch.More Information
A must-add to your bucket list! The first new activity in Banff National Park in recent history, the Via Ferrata is a guided tour through a fixed anchoring system of cables, ladders and a suspension bridge. As you climb higher and make your way up the cliffs above Norquay Ski Hill, you’ll truly get a taste of the Mountaineer’s experience without the risk. Surround yourself with breathtaking views and feel your adventurous spirit soar as you rise higher and gain more exposure to the elements all while attached to safety of the cable.More Information
There are a number of white water rafting companies to choose from, most offering the choice of 3 types of rafting experiences to tailor to your desired adventure level.
The Kananaskis River, 45 minutes west of Calgary, Alberta., is perfect for first timers, families, groups and even the seasoned rafter. Class 2-3 rapids.
Horseshoe Canyon – Big waves and spectacular scenery. Perfect for adventure seekers. Class 3-4 rapids.
Kicking Horse River – Renowned for being an exciting river for adrenaline junkies seeking mighty rapids and plenty of thrills. A fun and exciting white water experience for the very adventurous that love to be soaked by the waves. Up to Class 4 rapids.
The Glacier Skywalk is an experience like no other: a mountaineer’s perspective with heart pumping excitement, breathtaking views and nature inspired, interpretive story-telling. A cliff-edge walkway leads to a platform where you are able to witness with the safety of a glass panel a 918-foot drop. This adventure is open to visitors of all ages. Look down and you’ll see hints from life thousands of years ago. Look up and you’ll see the most stunning alpine and glacial vistas. Look around and you’ll discover one of the most unique ecosystems in the world; a place where it’s so hard to survive that adaptation never stops. Take in and experience wildlife, waterfalls, glaciers, fossils and more.More Information
Whether your idea of a good time spent together is exploring mountain trails, skiing down powdery slopes, enjoying fine dining, or taking quiet walks by the river, Banff has something to offer any couple looking for a romantic getaway.
Visitors coming to Banff with young kids in tow will enjoy a hassle-free experience and a destination that makes it easy to cater to people of all ages. Banff Park Lodge, Bow View Lodge, and Homestead Inn offer the perfect base for families enjoying a vacation in Banff. Its location allows you to spend less time driving and more time exploring, and in-house services make mealtimes quick and convenient.
Banff National Park is renowned for its accessibility, opening up fantastic experiences to visitors of all ages, including seniors. In Banff you can sip on a cappuccino, ride the gondola, rent a canoe, and enjoy a live performance all on the same day. How much you want to pack into your day is up to you!