Ultimate Summer Guide to Banff

Everything you need to know to complete one of the best Rockies itineraries – summer in Banff National Park. Known for its vast expanse of jagged peaks, snowy icefields, emerald waters, Banff and Lake Louise are the kind of destinations that you come to once, and never want to leave.

While most Canadians think they have explored this area, there are many hidden gems and those with a little sense of adventure will have an unforgettable experience.  

There’s nothing quite like a Banff & Lake Louise trip this summer. Whether it is for four days or two weeks, you will have a plethora of amazing views and intrepid experiences all to yourself. This trip is perfect for travellers of all ages and styles, from family vacationers to grey nomads, adventurous couples and groups of friends. So if you’re looking for the best summer itinerary, this is the one.

Day 1 – Banff Avenue

Banff Ave - Summer 2020

Banff Ave – Summer 2020

Heading into the town of Banff is the perfect way to start your Rockies trip. From June 5 to mid-September, there is a three-block closure of Banff Avenue to cars.  Take your time strolling, browsing local retailers, lounging on patios and sampling specialty cuisine as you drink in the magnificent views of Cascade Mountain.

Stop by the  SkiBig3 Adventure Hub (114 Banff Ave) to pick up your stand-up paddleboard for the next day. That way you can get an early start and not miss out on the best light of the day.

To top off a great first day in Banff National Park, stop at one of Banff’s new restaurants Farm & Fire located in the Elk & Avenue Hotel. From pizza to rotisserie the menu has delicious wood-fired crafted food for all.

Where to Stay

SkiBig3 is pleased to partner with a variety of local lodging properties to provide exceptional summer hotel packages for Canadian travellers. You will find vacation packages that suit everyone.

Day 2 – Herbert Lake & Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola

Three people sit on stand-up paddleboards on Herbert Lake, Banff National Park.

Photo by Noel Hendrickson.

Wake up early and enjoy a remarkable morning of paddleboarding on Herbert Lake.  Located just 3 kilometres up the Icefield Parkway from the southern entrance just past Lake Louise, this local gem is less travelled and serene.

You may not want to leave Herbert Lake, but if you want to take in some new views and a great late lunch, stop by Lake Louise Ski Resort Summer Sightseeing Gondola. Take the chair lift up to the Whitehorn Bistro. With unbelievable panoramic views and masterful culinary creations, it is one of the best patios in the Bow Valley. 

Don’t forget to keep your camera and eyes out for grizzly bears when riding the chairlift!

After your day of adventure wander down to Caribou Street  in Banff and enjoy fresh and delightful ingredients at SEED n SALT. This new restaurant makes a point to support local and regional vendors, growers and farmers. 

Banff Restaurants

SEED n SALT Restaurant

Day 3 – Via Ferrata at Mt. Norquay 

Photo courtesy of Mt. Norquay.

A local favourite, you can pick up the best hot beverages and delicious breakfast at Whitebark Cafe at the Banff Aspen Lodge. 

Book ahead for an unforgettable Via Ferrata experience at Mt. Norquay. Italian for “the iron way”, Via Ferrata offers assisted climbing experiences on the cliffs above Mt. Norquay with an expert guide. 

Want the view without the climb? The famous North American Chairlift is your gateway to an unbelievable journey to the historic Cliffhouse Bistro. Along the way you may spot wildlife, including Black Bears and Grizzly Bears.

The Cliffhouse Bistro is a perfect place to grab a seat and enjoy a mountain-gazing lunch or snack. The Quay Nachos and the Meat & Cheese Board will have you dreaming of coming back again. 

Remember to stop by the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub  before 6 p.m. to pick up your e-bikes for the next day. Whether you want a challenge or to mosey along the flat, SkiBig3 Adventure Hub can set you up with an e-bike, helmet and lock. There is no better way to explore than cruising at your own pace.

Looking for cocktails and a new place to dine in Banff? Try The Radiant! This comfortable space is the perfect place to relax after a day of adventure with shareable food options and live entertainment. 

Day 4 – Explore by E-Bike

Two cyclists ride their e-bikes along Vermillion Lakes Road, Banff National Park, view of Mt. Rundle in the background.

Photo by William Lambert.

Moving at a slower pace, you can engage more deeply with your surroundings. And this summer a section of the Bow Valley Parkway has been closed to cars. From the town of Banff travel west past Vermilion Lakes and connect to Legacy Trail and Bow Valley Parkway. Once on the parkway continue to travel west exploring the interpretive spots and look-outs all the way to Castle Mountain Junction.

There are many routes to choose from, read up on what kind of cycling adventure you have always wanted to try. Packed lunch and enjoy the ride!

These are just a few of the many things you can explore in Banff and Lake Louise, and while you can take your time and do as little or as much as you want, exploring Canada’s backyard is always a humbling experience.

A Guide at your Fingertips

The SkiBig3 app is your guide to Banff National Park for summer and winter adventure. Download the app and stay informed!

  • Paddleboard Safety, Routes & Maps
  • How to Inflate/Deflate your Paddleboard
  • E-Bike Tips, Routes & Maps
  • Weather Forecast

Banff National Park might be just the place to quietly escape for a much needed summer vacation. Talk to our in-destination Reservations Team today to plan a personalized trip, or book your lodging, rentals and experiences online. With a flexible change policy and no risk cancellation options, this might be the coveted summer escape you crave.

SkiBig3 Summer Lodging Deals

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Paddleboarding in Banff National ParkMt. Norquay's Via Ferrata