A Perfect Banff and Jasper Itinerary: Exploring the Canadian Rockies in 7 Days

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

What will you see when you visit the Canadian Rockies? You can expect towering peaks, blue glacial lakes and the opportunity to spot wildlife. The ruggedness of this area is what makes it so special. We’ll share with you how to create the perfect Banff and Jasper Itinerary. In this 7-day Banff and Jasper itinerary, you’ll hit all the must-see spots in these two national parks, with some options to explore a little further.

From exploring the charming towns of Banff and Jasper to hiking iconic trails and witnessing awe-inspiring natural wonders, there’s no shortage of things to do in Banff and Jasper National Parks. You might just find yourself wishing you had more time or planning your next trip.

This 7-day Banff and Jasper itinerary is best for summer visits but can be used for late-spring and early-fall visits too. Since winter in Banff and Jasper are very different from summer, we have a separate itinerary for that season.

The Canadian Rockies have an abundance of breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and countless outdoor adventures. This 7-day itinerary will take you through the most iconic sites in Banff and Jasper National Parks, ensuring you experience the best of what the Canadian Rockies have to offer.

Valley of Five Lakes hike.

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Getting to Banff National Park

We start this itinerary in Banff National Park and assume you’ll be flying in and out of the Calgary International Airport. The Calgary airport is only a 1.5 hr drive to Banff, making it an easy starting point for exploring this Canadian Rockies road trip.

You can rent a car at the Calgary airport, as the driving is quite easy and is mostly highway driving. Is it possible to visit Banff and Jasper without a car? It is, and some may prefer this but since this itinerary includes Jasper National Park and other spots that can’t be reached by public transportation, renting a car will give the most flexibility.

Read More

Learn everything you need to know in our post on Visiting Banff Without a Car.

Roam Bus at Johnston Canyon.

When to Visit Banff and Jasper National Park

The best time for visiting Banff and Jasper are the summer months of July and August, when the weather is at it’s best. However, this won’t appeal to everyone as it’s when the crowds are also at their peak, as are the prices.

While there are more considerations for visiting in spring or fall, you may enjoy the fewer crowds and more affordable accommodations. Two main concerns for visiting in the spring and fall are the possibility of adverse driving conditions and places that are closed for the winter season (and not yet reopened).

Read More

Have more questions about the right time to plan a trip to Banff? Read more on the Best Time to Visit Banff National Park

fireweed with mountains in the background at Banff's Sunshine Meadows.

The Ultimate 7-Day Banff and Jasper Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Calgary and Drive to Banff

Upon landing at Calgary, pick up your rental car and hit the road for a short 90-minute drive to the picturesque town of Banff. It’s not long after you leave the city of Calgary that you’ll get your first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains.

Depending on how much time you have on your first day, it’s a great time to explore the town of Banff and the nearby attractions.

Banff is a very walkable town and you can get most places on foot. Whether you decide to drive or explore on foot, you can start in town with the iconic view of Cascade Mountain on Banff Avenue. From there you can visit Bow Falls, Surprise Corner and the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. The Hoodoos viewpoint is further outside of the main part of town that can be reached by car, bus or by hiking from Surprise Corner.

Bow Falls Viewpoint

A wide and powerful waterfall, the amazing Bow Falls are a must-see natural attraction near downtown Banff.

The raging Bow Falls are a short walk from the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff National Park

Surprise Corner Viewpoint

One of the best places to take a picture of the stunning Banff Springs Hotel. Not only can you get spectacular pictures of the Banff Springs Hotel, but you can also see the Bow Falls from above at some of the nearby viewpoints on Buffalo Street.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site

The birthplace of Canada’s national parks. The discovery of natural hot springs on Sulphur Mountain set in motion a series of events which ultimately led to the creation of Banff National Park, and the entire national park system of Canada.

The Cave and Basin is the birthplace of Banff National Park

Hoodoos Viewpoint

Get some impressive views of the Banff hoodoos, Mount Rundle and Tunnel Mountain. You can drive right up to the Hoodoos Viewpoint where there is a parking lot and some interpretive signs. Alternatively, you can also hike from Surprise Corner to the Hoodoos Viewpoint, if you had some extra time.

Banff Hoodoos with Bow River in the background

If you are up for a hike, Tunnel Mountain is an easy hike that leaves right from town and offers some impressive views over the valley.

Banff Gondola

Finish up your day with a ride up the Banff Gondola, that transports you to the top of Sulphur Mountain for breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies, and dinner at Sky Bistro for a delicious meal with the best views!

Banff Mountains from Sulphur Mountain Gondola

Read More

Banff National Park has 4 gondolas/chairlifts to choose from. Learn more about these Banff Gondolas and which one we recommend!

Day 2: Exploring Banff National Park

On your first day exploring Banff National Park, you stuck pretty close to the town of Banff. On this second day of your 7-day Banff itinerary, it’s time to venture out a little further.

From the town of Banff, drive to Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. There are several stops to make along this scenic drive in Banff National Park.

Cascade Ponds

The first stop is Cascade Ponds, which is one of the best picnic areas in Banff. The views of Cascade Mountain from the Banff Red Chairs is just beautiful. On a calm morning you can also see the most beautiful reflection of Mount Rundle in the water.

view of Cascade Ponds Picnic Area and Mt Rundle.

As you turn right on Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive shortly after leaving Cascade Ponds, you’ll visit the Minnewanka Loop (as it’s known by us locals) in a counter clockwise direction.

Johnson Lake

The first stop is at Johnson Lake. There are no shortage of things to do at Johnson Lake. It’s an excellent place for a paddle board in the summer, a picnic or even for an easy Banff hike. The hike around Johnson Lake is a short 3 km and goes all around the lake while offering some incredible views.

stand up paddle boarding in Banff National Park - Johnson Lake.

Read More

Are you a hiker? You won’t want to miss our 5 Day Banff Itinerary for Hikers, written specifically for people coming to Banff to enjoy the BEST hikes.

Two Jack Lake

After Johnson Lake is Two Jack Lake, which also has a short, easy hike and a picnic area. You’ll also find two Banff red chairs. Two Jack Lake is also an excellent place for paddleboarding in Banff.

Two Jack Lake Banff Red Chairs.

Lake Minnewanka

The third lake on the Minnewanka Loop is Lake Minnewanka. The best things to do at Lake Minnewanka include the popular Lake Minnewanka boat cruise, hiking, kayaking, boat rentals and fishing.

Lake Minnewanka has two main hikes that leave from the shores of the lake: the Stewart Canyon hike and the Lake Minnewanka Trail which leads to other hikes like Aylmer Lookout hike. This trail also leads to some popular backcountry camping sites in Banff.

Minnewanka Lake Cruise.
Dan & Celine Brewer, owners of TravelBanffCanada.com, on a Flytographer photo shoot with their kids at Lake Minnewanka, Banff.

Banff Photoshoot

A Banff photoshoot is an excellent way to preserve memories from your trip! Get $25 off your first Flytographer photo shoot.

Lower Bankhead

Before you leave the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, make a stop at Lower Bankhead and walk through Banff’s ghost town. The remnants are from mining days and give a glimpse into a bit of Banff’s history through the ruined buildings and interpretive signs.

exploring the rooms in the Briquette Building in Lower Bankhead is a fun activity for kids in Banff.

Bow Valley Parkway

With more time to explore in your day, get back on the Trans-Canada Highway to the Bow Valley Parkway. The Bow Valley Parkway is a secondary highway that parallels the Trans-Canada Highway from Banff to Lake Louise.

Guide Along App

Recommended App

The Canadian Rockies audio guide by GuideAlong is the perfect companion to your Banff & Jasper vacation. This GPS activated audio tour will greatly enhance any drive, including the Icefields Parkway.

Get GuideAlong

There are plenty of stops along the Bow Valley Parkway, which you may not have time to visit all in one afternoon. The Bow Valley Parkway is home to the popular Johnston Canyon hike. This hike through the canyon takes visitors along elevated boardwalks and past rushing waterfalls. If you have the time and energy you can hike all the way to the Ink Pots.

Johnston Canyon Waterfalls.

Other places of note on the Bow Valley Parkway are the Morant’s Curve Viewpoint, Castle Lookout Hike, Rockbound Lake Hike, Silverton Falls Hike, and the Storm Mountain Lookout.

In May, June and September, the Eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway (the section from Johnston Canyon to Banff) is closed to cars, making that section of road an incredible place for cycling in Banff National Park.

Read More

Do you love cycling? Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway is a Banff experience you won’t want to miss!

Cycling Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park.

If you don’t have time to visit all the places you want to see on the Bow Valley Parkway today, you can spend some time on the Bow Valley Parkway tomorrow on your way to Lake Louise.

Day 3: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

Day three calls for a visit to two of the Canadian Rockies’ most renowned lakes – Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. While it’s easy enough to get to Lake Louise village, getting to visit the lakes will require a little preplanning.

Moraine Lake is no longer accessible by car and will require reserving tickets for the Parks Canada Moraine Lake shuttle or one of these other ways to get to Moraine Lake. Lake Louise is getting increasingly more difficult to visit due to its popularity, so it’s best to take the Lake Louise shuttle as well.

Moraine Lake Shuttle at Park and Ride (Lake Louise Ski Resort).

If you plan to visit both lakes in one day, you only need to book ONE SHUTTLE with Parks Canada. You’ll take the shuttle to the first lake you booked tickets for at the time you specified in your reservation. Once you are done at the first lake, you can take the Lake Connector Shuttle to the next lake. You don’t need to book a specific time for the Lake Connector. Then you’ll return to the Lake Louise Ski Resort (the park & ride) from whichever lake you finish at.

Lake Louise

The mesmerizing turquoise blue water, Victoria Glacier, and the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Hotel make Lake Louise an unforgettable sight. There’s so much to do at Lake Louise, including canoeing on Lake Louise, a tea house hike and even a easy lakeshore walk.

Canoeing in Lake Louise - Banff National Park.

The best hikes at Lake Louise can be done in a large circuit, but this would require you to spend most of the day at Lake Louise. If you do just one hike at Lake Louise, hike to one of the two Lake Louise teahouses: Lake Agnes Tea House Hike or the Plain of Six Glaciers Hike.

The historic Plains of Six Glaciers Teahouse was built by CPR in 1927.

Moraine Lake

Many people visit Moraine Lake first to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. In the middle of summer, the Parks Canada shuttles will not get you to Moraine Lake in time for sunrise. You’ll need to book a sunrise shuttle through one of the private operators like Moraine Lake Bus Company or Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle (both of which we have used and were very happy with the experience).

Sunrise at Moraine Lake in Banff.

At Moraine Lake there’s also the opportunity to canoe on Moraine Lake or do one of the many Moraine Lake hikes. If you do only one thing at Moraine Lake, make sure you climb the Rock Pile trail for the best views. If you have some time to spare, Moraine Lake also has a very pretty lakeshore walk (though more rugged than Lake Louise).

Local Tip

You can only visit Moraine Lake when the Moraine Lake Road is open between June 1 and the second Monday in October.

easy hike at Moraine Lake with kids in Banff.

If you have more time in your Banff itinerary, I recommend spending a day at each lake to enjoy one of the many incredible hikes. If hiking isn’t your thing or you have extra time, then other places to visit in the lake Louise area might include Yoho National Park for the Spiral Tunnels, Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake.

Nearby Kootenay National Park has more beautiful places to stop like Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots.

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park.

Both of these parks also have incredible hiking opportunities, if you want to add more hiking to your itinerary.

Return to Banff for dinner after a busy day of exploring! After dinner, visit Vermilion Lakes just outside the town of Banff and even watch a sunset.

Day 4: Icefields Parkway and Columbia Icefield

Day four of your Banff and Jasper National Park itinerary is time for a scenic drive along the picturesque Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway is highway 93 that links Banff and Jasper National Parks. This stunningly beautiful road winds through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, offering incredible views and numerous opportunities for wildlife sightings.

Local Tip

Always check weather forecasts and road conditions for the Icefields Parkway before heading out, especially in May, June, September & October.

Bow Lake along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park.

Along the way, you’ll find several must-see attractions. Here are some of the best stops along the Icefields Parkway. Don’t worry if you don’t see them all, you’ll have an opportunity to make stops on the way back too.

  • Herbert Lake
  • Hector Lake
  • Bow Lake
  • Peyto Lake
  • Weeping Wall
  • Mistaya Canyon
  • Crowfoot Glacier
  • Sunwapta Falls
  • Athabasca Falls

Local Tip

Don’t forget to get the The Canadian Rockies audio guide by GuideAlong you’ll love learning more about the area during your drive.

Make sure to stop at the Columbia Icefield, one of the most impressive and largest non-polar ice fields in the world.

Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields.

If you want to get up close, the Columbia Icefield tour takes you to the breathtaking Athabasca Glacier on the ice explorer bus. This tour includes admission to Glacier Skywalk.

This incredibly scenic drive along the Icefields parkway on your Canadian Rockies road trip is really about the journey and not the destination. You’ll get to enjoy more of Jasper National Park over the next two days, but for today take the time to appreciate the stunning landscapes and natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

This unforgettable drive is likely going to be a highlight of your trip to Banff and Jasper.

Sunwapta Falls on Icefields Parkway.

Day 5: Discovering Jasper National Park

Day 5 is time to explore Jasper National Park, the Canadian Rockies’ largest national park and the world’s second largest dark sky preserve. You can start your visit to Jasper National Park by exploring:

Town of Jasper viewed from hiking trail.
  • Maligne Canyon: Just 15 minutes from the town of Jasper lies this deep limestone canyon where you can walk along the many bridges and see the rushing waterfalls. Hiking to all six bridges will take about 3 hours, but you can see the first two bridges in 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Medicine Lake: Known as the disappearing lake (due to how it drains into an underground cave system in the fall and winter), Medicine Lake offers stunning views. In the summer you can walk around the lake, go for a hike, rent a kayak for a paddle or even fish at Medicine Lake.
  • Maligne Lake: Maligne Lake, home to Spirit Island, is 22 km long making it the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies. Maligne Lake cruise is a popular activity as is hiking and canoeing.

After an incredible day exploring Jasper National Park, check out the town and enjoy one of the many great dining options. In the evening, check out the Jasper Planetarium and view the stars through the largest telescopes in the Canadian Rockies!

Pyramid Lake in Jasper National Park.

Day 6: Jasper SkyTram and Athabasca Falls

For your second day of your Jasper National Park itinerary, visit the Jasper SkyTram experience, a gondola ride that elevates you to the Summit Station at an impressive height of 2,263 meters (7,425 ft) for stunning vistas. From the top of Whistlers Mountain, aside from the incredible views of several mountain ranges, you can do some hiking in the alpine or enjoy two of the dining options with the best views!

After descending from the SkyTram, there are plenty of other hikes around Jasper or lakes to visit!

Celine and Dan Brewer along Valley of Five Lakes hike.

A few good hiking options in Jasper National Park include:

  1. Mt. Edith Cavell: Drive the 14 km Cavell Road to hike the Cavell Meadows Hike (7 km return). This road is typically open from around mid-to-late June until early October each year (always check here to confirm road closures and opening dates). Trailers and large motorhomes are not permitted on the Cavell Road.
  2. Valley of the Five Lakes: An easy hike around five different coloured lakes. You can choose from 3 to 9 km loop trails depending on time and energy level.
  3. Lac Beauvert: Enjoy the 3.9 km stroll around Lac Beauvert or rent a canoe to get out on the water.

As you explore Jasper National Park, expect to see wildlife and be prepare to avoid any negative encounters!

Elk in Jasper National Park.

Day 7: Return to Calgary and Departure

The final day of your Canadian Rockies road trip will see you returning to Calgary for your flight home. As you drive back down the Icefields Parkway, stop at any of the places you missed on the way up. A hike like Wilcox Pass or Parker Ridge is an excellent thing to do along the Icefields Parkway, if you’ve already stopped at all the places on the way up.

If you are flying out the next day and have extra time, you can stop in the nearby town of Canmore located between Banff and Calgary. Canmore is a charming mountain town with impressive mountain views from downtown. There are many incredible walking trails in Canmore and even some short hikes if you have the time.

Grassi Lakes Canmore Alberta.

Read More

Do you have time for one more hike? Read more on Grassi Lakes – Canmore’s easy but stunning hike!

Best Accommodations in Banff and Jasper

Finding the best hotel to rest after a day exploring the Canadian Rockies, is one of the most important aspects of your trip planning. Whether you’re looking for luxury accommodations, mid-range hotels, or budget-friendly options, you’ll find a wide range of choices in both Banff and Jasper to suit your preferences and budget.

Bear in mind that hotels in the Canadian Rockies should be booked well in advance and especially during the peak tourist season.

Here are some of Banff and Jasper’s top accommodations, for every budget and travel style.

Best Places to Stay in Banff

Banff offers a diverse range of accommodations. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hotel options, here are some of the best places to stay in Banff.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Often dubbed as the “Castle in the Rockies,” the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel offers a blend of luxury and natural beauty. Its majestic architecture and stunning backdrop of the Canadian Rockies make it a quintessential stay for those seeking a royal experience. With world-class spa facilities, diverse dining options, and easy access to outdoor adventures, it caters to both relaxation and adventure enthusiasts.

The Banff Springs Hotel is the most iconic hotel in Banff National Park.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Situated on the shore of the glacier-fed Lake Louise, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is renowned for its breathtaking surroundings. This iconic hotel provides guests with unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and lake, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise seen from Canoe Rental.

Moose Hotel & Suites

Located just a stone’s throw away from downtown Banff, the Moose Hotel & Suites combines comfort with convenience. Its rustic design, complete with modern amenities and a rooftop hot tub, offers a cozy retreat after a day of exploring Banff National Park. The hotel’s central location makes it ideal for visitors looking for easy access to restaurants and spending time in the Banff townsite.

The Moose Hotel is one of the best Banff hotels on Banff Avenue.

Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows

For those seeking a more secluded escape, Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows offers charming accommodation nestled within the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Its proximity to the Johnston Canyon makes it a prime location for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The resort’s rustic cabins provide a tranquil, back-to-nature experience without sacrificing comfort.

Two kids at one of the Johnston Canyon cabins.

Dorothy Motel

As one of Banff’s newest boutique hotels, the Dorothy motel is simple but has everything you need for a comfortable stay in Banff. With easy access to the Legacy Trail and the Minnewanka Loop, it’s the ideal location for those who want to get out of town from some outdoor adventures. It’s still within easy walking distance to restaurants and downtown Banff.

Kids giving high five at Dorothy Motel - accommodations in Banff.

If you’re looking for an Airbnb or vacation rental, consider staying in the nearby town of Canmore or further in Dead Man’s Flats, which have plenty of options. Hotels in Canmore are typically more budget friendly than in Banff as well.

Regardless of your budget or tastes, make sure you book your accommodation well ahead of time.

Best Places to Stay in Jasper

Jasper also offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveler. In Jasper you can choose from upscale lodges to affordable inns and cozy B&Bs.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Set amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Jasper National Park, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers a luxurious and serene escape. This sprawling resort is famous for its charming cedar chalets and luxury cabins that dot the shores of Lac Beauvert. It’s an ideal retreat for those seeking relaxation in the lap of nature, with a renowned golf course, spa amenities, and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Jasper Park Lodge - luxury Jasper hotel.

Jasper House Bungalows

Nestled along the banks of the Athabasca River, Jasper House Bungalows offers a rustic and cozy accommodation option. Its historic bungalows and cabins, set amidst towering pines, offer a genuine mountain living experience. This property is ideal for those looking to disconnect and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Jasper National Park, with easy access to hiking trails and outdoor adventures.

Jasper House Bungalows - where to stay in Jasper.

Pine Bungalows

Pine Bungalows provides a peaceful retreat with its environmentally friendly and minimally impactful lodgings. Situated within a quiet, forested area, guests can enjoy the simplicity of nature with modern comforts. The bungalows are a gateway to wildlife viewing, star gazing, and exploring the natural wonders of Jasper.

Pine Bungalows - best Jasper cabins.

Jasper East Cabins

For those exploring the eastern side of Jasper National Park, Jasper East Cabins offer a cozy and secluded base. Surrounded by majestic mountains, these cabins provide a rustic yet comfortable setting for families and groups. The location is perfect for guests interested in hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the park’s less-visited areas.

Jasper East Cabins - best Jasper cabins.

Jasper Downtown Hostel

Offering budget-friendly accommodations in the heart of Jasper, the Jasper Downtown Hostel is perfect for solo travelers and backpackers. With a friendly atmosphere and communal facilities, it’s a great place to meet fellow travelers. The hostel’s central location allows easy access to local attractions, dining, and nightlife, making it an excellent choice for those wanting to explore Jasper on a budget.

Renting a Car for Banff and Jasper

Choosing to rent a car for your visit to Jasper and Banff National Parks will depend a lot on when you visit and how you choose to spend your time.

Banff National Park is better set up for visiting without a car and most of the main attractions around Banff can be reached by public transportation.

How to get around Banff on a budget.

This gets more difficult as you venture up the Icefields Parkway and into Jasper town. You won’t be able to make all the stops along the Icefields Parkway without a rental car. Though you can find tours or transportation to get you from Banff to Jasper.

In the town of Jasper, a public bus was launched but it won’t get you to all the places you might want to visit in Jasper. At a minimum you’ll want to rent a car for the Jasper National Park portion of your trip.

To avoid dealing with full parking lots, I recommend visiting the most popular places during the weekdays and at off hours (either early in the morning or late afternoon). You can also take public transportation to the most popular places and leave your car parked at the hotel. For traffic congestion in the towns, you can choose to walk instead as the town of Banff is extremely walkable.

Ultimately, the choice between renting a car and using public transportation depends on your personal preferences, budget, and travel style.

Browse rental cars at the Calgary International Airport.

Canadian Rockies Travel Essentials and Packing Tips

Packing appropriate gear and clothing is crucial for ensuring you can get the most out of your Canadian Rockies road trip. To help you prepare, here’s a list of essential packing tips and items to bring for your journey to the Canadian Rockies.

First and foremost, pack clothing suitable for layering in different seasons, such as:

  • a rain jacket
  • a fleece jacket
  • a lightweight down vest
  • quick-dry pants

In cooler temperatures, wear base layers that wicks away moisture from your body. A small backpack or daypack is a must for a trip to Banff and Jasper. It should be big enough to carry all your daily essentials like water, snacks, and extra layers.

If you plan to do any hiking, hiking shoes or boots are worth packing. You’ll enjoy long days out on the trails much more with proper footwear.

Don’t forget to bring:

  • A waterproof bag or rain cover
  • A camera
  • Hiking poles
  • A battery pack for long days out

Read More

If you are wondering what else you need for hiking in Banff, see all our list of essentials for hiking in Banff.

Wildlife Watching and Photography Opportunities

The Canadian Rockies are home to a diverse array of wildlife, making it an ideal place for wildlife watching and photography. Some of the wildlife you can expect to see include:

  • Majestic elk
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Squirrels
  • Birds
Baby bighorn sheep in Jasper National Park.

With some luck there are several other animals that you might get to see like a bear, moose, fox or even a wolf. There’s no shortage of amazing wildlife to observe and photograph in the Canadian Rockies.

The best times for wildlife viewing in Banff and Jasper are early morning and dusk when the animals are most active. Always maintain a safe distance from the animals and avoid approaching or disturbing them. Observing wildlife from a distance and respecting their natural behavior is essential for their well-being and your safety.

For wildlife photography, I highly recommended to have a DSLR camera with a fast lens. A lens with a focal length of 70-200mm or 300mm is perfect for capturing wildlife in their natural habitat.

Fox in Banff National Park.

Banff National Park Pass

You’ll need a National Park Pass to visit both Banff and Jasper National Parks. Since this is a 7-day itinerary it makes the most sense to get the annual Discovery Pass. You can get the pass at the Banff Park Gates upon arrival or order it in advance.

Read More

We explain everything you need to know about the Banff Park Pass here. If you are staying more than 6 days, an annual Discovery Pass might be the best option for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in Banff and Jasper?

One week is enough time to explore both Banff and Jasper National Parks and see the highlights. Five days should be the minimum visiting both parks. With two weeks, you can easily add on time at adjacent national parks and the provincial parks outside of Banff National Park.

Should I start from Banff or Jasper?

Given Banff’s proximity to the Calgary International Airport, it’s an ideal spot to start your adventure. You can be in the mountains within an hour of leaving the airport.

How long is the drive from Banff to Jasper?

The drive between Jasper and Banff is roughly 3.5 hrs. The two highways connecting these mountain towns are the Icefields Parkway (AB-93) and Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1).

Is Jasper prettier than Banff?

Banff and Jasper are both stunning destinations in the Canadian Rockies, each with their own unique appeal. However, Banff is typically more popular and more crowded. Given it’s proximity to the city of Calgary, it’s not only popular with tourists but day trippers as well.

What is the best time of year to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks?

The best time to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks is during the summer months of July and August, when the weather is at it’s best and all the roads are open. Late spring and early fall can be a great time to visit with slightly fewer crowds and still great weather (although snow is common during these times).

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A 7-Day Itinerary for Banff and Jasper National Parks
Celine Brewer - Travel Banff Canada

Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.