Banff is a fantastic town in the Canadian Rockies that’s well worth a multi-day stay, perhaps on your trip with Rocky Mountaineer. Wondering what to do with your free time here? Here are my top suggestions. Please note: I have not included certain activities such as an excursion up to the Athabasca Icefields or the Banff Gondola because these are often included in Rocky Mountaineer packages. If you are not traveling with Rocky Mountaineer or you do not have these activities included, you should definitely consider adding these to your itinerary!
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Entry to Banff Upper Hot Springs is first come, first served. Reservations and pre-booked tickets are not available: https://www.hotsprings.ca/banff
Bow River Canoe Tours
River Explorer – Big Canoe Tours: Enjoy the serenity of the Bow River and marvel at the surroundings whilst on a Big Canoe Tour. As you journey upstream, our guides will entertain you with stories of the past, history of canoeing and interesting local facts. Every tour includes life jackets and paddles plus instruction on how to paddle as a team.
Wildlife on the Bow – Big Canoe Tours: Discover life on the Bow River. Join us on an early evening Big Canoe tour and learn fun facts about animal habitats, behaviors and conservation. Escape the bustling Banff Streets and get back to nature. Enjoy paddling up the scenic Bow River while keeping your eyes peeled for some of the locals – bald eagles, elk, muskrats and maybe even “Barry” our resident beaver.
Kayak Experience: Join us on a group kayak paddle to explore the Bow River. Check out the local wildlife, capture that perfect picture in front of Mount Rundle and maybe even catch a glimpse of our resident beaver, Barry. Connect with nature and other kayakers as you enjoy the serene surroundings and picturesque views from Vermilion Lake. Our friendly hosts will help answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
Hike Johnston’s Canyon – Upper and Lower Johnson’s Falls trails
The Roam Bus offers daily service from the town of Banff to Johnston Canyon from late June to mid-September. For the schedule and fares see: Banff Roam Bus Service To Johnston Canyon. There is no public transportation to the falls outside of this time frame. Booking through a company offering a tour to the area or taking a taxi would be the only options.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
Cave and Basics Tour – Looking for a quick introduction to all the highlights Cave and Basin National Historic Site has to offer? Join us for this accessible 30-minute indoor/outdoor tour of the 1914 Bathing Pavilion and its many hidden wonders—from Indigenous significance and historic architecture, to a mysterious cave and the birth of national parks in Canada, to the tiny and endangered Banff Springs Snail.
Discovery Tour – On this stroll along lush marsh boardwalks, you will meet colourful characters from Banff’s past and learn why the Cave and Basin National Historic Site is the birthplace of national parks in Canada. Open your senses to jaw-dropping views and bubbling hot springs that have inspired people to visit this special place for millennia.
Natural History Tour – The unique Cave and Basin landscape has been shaped by three things: hot water, biology, and people. Explore the biodiversity of the wetland area surrounding the Cave and Basin, where snakes, fish, birds, bears, microbes, snails, flowers, and humans all share a connection with the thermal waters.
Thermal Waters Pass: https://parks.canada.ca/lhn-nhs/ab/caveandbasin/visit/thermales-thermal
Banf ATV tours
Lake Minnewanka Cruise
Feel the fresh mountain air, watch for wildlife and get adventurous on Banff’s largest lake. Choose from one of our acclaimed cruises and explore under the lead of a knowledgeable guide on a heated, covered boat. Or set your own course with a kayak, canoe or motorboat rental.
White Water Rafting
Raft gentle Class 2-3 rapids with the family on the Kananaskis River, get more adventurous on Class 3-4 rapids on the Horseshoe Canyon or go deeper and bigger with up to Class 5 rapids on the Kicking Horse River.
- Hydra River Guides – https://www.raftbanff.com/
- Chinook Rafting – https://bll.fyi/j9th
- Wild Water Adventures – https://www.wildwater.com/
Rocky Mountain Raft Tours
Rocky Mountain Raft Tours offers scenic guided float trips on the Bow River within Banff National Park.