Banff Town/nearby Lakes/Falls, Banff National Park
Lake Minnewanka was the first lake we visited during our stay in Banff. Perhaps not the most beautiful view you will see, the lake and the drive around Minnewanka road are still very impressive......at the very least, they are an excellent indication of the scenery you will be seeing while in the Banff National Park area.
Lake Minnewanka can be found simply by following Banff Avenue northwards out of Banff and under Highway 1. Banff Avenue takes you directly onto Minnewanka Road, which in turn takes you to Lake Minnewanka.
Minnewanka ring road also gives you access to Johnson Lake and Two Jack lake, both of which you can see from the roadside.
We also got our first view of the Banff wildlife while taking pictures of Lake Minnewanka. Just as we turned around to head back to the car, 5-6 goats appeared on the road! Cool! We ended up passing loads of Goats on the drive around Minnewanka Road!
P.s. Apologies for the angle of the photograph opposite..... not sure what happened there! ha ha ha!
The Bow Falls are fairly small compared to some of the other Falls you will see around Banff and Jasper national parks, but they are worth a visit nonetheless!
They are very easy to find, although if you don't have a car it will take you around 10-15 minutes to walk from Banff town centre.
Traveling from Banff Springs hotel, take the first turn on your right at the traffic lights, or, if you are coming from the town centre, take the last left just before the Banff Springs hotel.
Follow the road right round. Be careful if you are driving, it is a tight winding road. It is a very short road, but its better to be careful!
The car park is at the bottom of this road. The Bow falls are right next to the car park. Both the falls and the view down Bow River make the short trip worthwhile.
Banff Avenue runs North - South through Banff. It is the main street, and just happens to be the street that our Youth Hostel was on!
Like any main town road it has its mixture of tourist shops, stores, Restaurants, Bars and a lot of traffic - both human and road traffic.....lots of it!
You will find though that Banff Avenue is generally cleaner than most other town main roads..... and most town roads don't have such stunning views, especially the view in my picture to the left! The huge and very impressive Cascade mountain sits to the North of Banff Avenue, and the Bow River runs under the bridge at the south end...brilliant!
You can't miss Banff Avenue, most streets cut across it at some point.
A nice way to spend a morning or afternoon!
In the Banff Townsite, you will find all the amenities that a tourist could ever want including hotels, restaurants and souvenier shops. You will also find access to the Banff Hot Springs and Sulphur Mountain Gondola.
One of my favourite spots in Banff was the lovely Cascade Gardens behind the Park Administration Building. It is open daily from June to Sept and features flower gardens and walking paths. Admission is free.
Where can you find a sandy beach if you live in the town of Banff? The answer is Johnston Lake. It's small and family-orientated. You don't see tour buses here. Only about 10 km north of Banff townsite, it's among the 4 local lakes that I consider city park of Banff (Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Johnston Lake and Cascade Ponds). As seen in photo, it has a small stretch of sandy beach surrounded by forest. In the backdrop is Mount Rundle, one of the most recognizable mountains in Banff area.
Banff townsite is the most touristy spot in the whole Rockies, especially along Banff Avenue between Baffalo and Caribou (how ironic). There are bars, pubs, restaurants, and souvenir shops where you can dine gourmet cuisine, or buy made-in-China stuff toys. And the best way to enjoy wildlife is to take a buggy ride as shown in photo.
However, after days in the wild, it's a nice place to re-charge, re-fuel, and to remind myself that I'm still a city folk. No matter what, the town of Banff should be part of your visit to Banff National Park.
This is where locals go picnicking. It consists of a series of small, round ponds with short trails connected by bridges. In the grass area around the ponds there are picnic and BBQ tables. Parking is easy too. Among the 4 local lakes that I consider city park of Banff (Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Johnston Lake and Cascade Ponds), this is the most family-oriented. It's a great spot to have a family picnic with Mount Rundle in the backdrop.
Only about 10 km north of Banff townsite you'll find a serise of lakes - Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Johnston Lake and Cascade Ponds. These are visited more by locals than by tourists. I considered them the city park of the town of Banff.
Lake Minnewanka is the biggest of them. This is where the locals launch their boats, and also home to many bighorn sheep. Here you can take a leisure boat tour, or a stroll to nearby Steward Canyon.
One of western Canada's finest historic landscapes. Enjoy gazebos, waterworks, pools and flower gardens. Banff Park Administration building also inside the garden.
From the garden facing south, you will have a full view of Banff Township with white snow cap mountains at the backdrops which found at most landscape postcards.
An historic site of an early 1900's coal mine, colliery and town. An easy 45minute walk leads through the ruins of the mine site. Interpretative plaques bear photographs and descriptions of the buildings and the operations of the mine.
Western Canada's oldest natural history museum presents wildlife displays of the birds and mammals found in Banff National Park. The building itself, a designated Canadian historic site, illustrates an unusual style of architecture called railroad pagoda. Open year-round.
Just strolling into town along Banff Avenue is a great way to unwind after a long day visiting mountains & lakes.
Always something happening and very safe area to walk around in.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) built Banff's castle here for the view down the Bow River between Tunnel Mountain & Mt. Rundle.