Bow Valley Parkway

Slower, more scenic alternative to Hwy-1

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If you’re heading between Banff and Lake Louise and have time, the 51km Bow Valley Parkway is the best route.

More services line it, including several campgrounds, accommodation choices and one excellent eating option, but largely it’s a quiet route and nature is the main appeal. Driving north, the mountains start to creep closer to the mighty Bow River, as it crashes through rocks and forest near the road. And it’s a great place to spot wildlife, such as elk deer and moose, particularly around dawn and dusk.

Great hikes also start off the Parkway, particularly the easy but impressive Johnston Canyon Trail.

Note that voluntary restrictions are placed on summer traffic along parts of the road between 6pm and 9am to minimise wildlife disturbance.

Of the interpretative stops en route, don’t miss the
Backswamp and the Mule Shoe viewpoints, 3km and 6km from Banff respectively. Both are excellent for watching wildlife, with the former a good spot to try and spot bighorn sheep or mountain goats on the slopes above or even spot wolves in winter.

At A Glance


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