Introduced in 2014, Parks Canada placed red chairs throughout the national parks, including the Banff red chairs. The Red Chair Experience was a way to get people to take the time to connect with their surroundings. You’ll find the red chairs in Banff in many scenic locations throughout the park.
While originally there were some complaints about where the chairs were placed. The main complaint was that the red chairs in Banff were in locations that caused people to go off the trail while trampling sensitive areas to reach them.
We’ve seen some changes to the locations of the red chairs (perhaps why they moved the ones at Johnson Lake?) over the years. The Banff red chairs are now located in 11 spots around Banff National Park.
We’ve been to almost all of them recently and haven’t found any that require you to go off trail.
While we don’t really think that you need any extra incentive to go to the many scenic viewpoints in Banff, it’s still fun to seek them out and snap a picture.
That’s why we’ve also included it in our 50 Free Things to do in Banff. Many of these spots are also some of the best picnic areas in Banff!
You can share your pictures with Parks Canada using the hashtag #ShareTheChair. Give us a tag on your Instagram pics of red chairs in Banff too! @travelbanffcanada
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Banff Red Chairs – Locations
Here is where you can find the Banff National Park Red Chairs.
Cascade Ponds Picnic Area
Cascade Ponds is one of the best picnic areas in Banff. You’ll find everything you need here to have a fun day with family, including shelters, picnic tables, toilets and even fire pits.
In the summer, this is a great place to hang out and relax in the summer heat. You can even take a dip in the ponds if you feel so inclined!
You’ll find the Cascade Ponds red chairs across the bridge, however you might have to wait for your turn to sit in them on a busy weekend!
Lake Minnewanka Picnic Area
There are so many things to do at Lake Minnewanka and finding the red chairs on the beach is just one of them. The Lake Minnewanka red chairs are perfectly located to enjoy a view of Lake Minnewanka, which is the perfect thing to do after one of the many hikes around Lake Minnewanka (like Stewart Canyon Hike, Lake Minnewanka Shoreline trail or Aylmer Lookout hike).
Two Jack Lake Picnic Area
The Two Jack Lake red chairs are just the ideal spot to take in that stunning mountain reflection! Mt Rundle looms in the distance and on a calm day is perfectly reflected in the waters of Two Jack Lake.
Two Jack Lake has a nice picnic area, but snag the red chairs if you have a chance!
Tunnel Mountain Summit
You’ll need to hike to the top of Tunnel Mountain to have a seat on the Tunnel Mountain red chairs! And why not! The Tunnel Mountain hike is one of the best Banff hiking trails, rewarding visitors with incredible views over Banff!
This hike is popular enough that you’ll likely need to wait your turn to sit in the red chairs. But on a sunny day, it’s worth it to spend a little more time at the top.
Valleyview Picnic Area
The red chairs at the Valleyview picnic area are a little out of the way and you probably won’t see them unless you are cycling the Legacy Trail between Banff and Canmore. But finding the red chairs at the Valleyview picnic area is the best excuse to take a break looking at the mountain scenery during a long bike ride!
There are also toilets nearby, so it’s likely you’ll be stopping anyways!
Sulphur Mountain Summit
Whether you’ve taken the Banff Gondola up or hiked Sulphur Mountain, take a walk along the Sulphur Mountain boardwalk to the end to find the red chairs.
While the boardwalks can get busy, if you hike up Sulphur Mountain before the gondola starts then you might just have it all to yourself!
At the Hoodoos Viewpoint in Banff, you not only get a view of the Hoodoos themselves but an incredible view over the valley. If this isn’t a place to slow down and take the time to appreciate the mountain scenery, I don’t know what is.
You can park right at the Hoodoos Viewpoint or you can enjoy a nice easy hike from Surprise Corner along the Hoodoos Trail to the viewpoint. This also makes an excellent winter hike in Banff.
Muleshoe Picnic Area
The Muleshoe red chairs are found in the Muleshoe picnic area along the Bow Valley Parkway. If you’re looking for a shady spot in the summer, you’ll find it here with the aspen trees surrounding the picnic area.
The Muleshoe picnic area is found around 12 km east along the Bow Valley Parkway from Johnston Canyon. This would make a great stop before or after the popular Johnston Canyon hike.
The CPR train passes right near the picnic area on the other side of Muleshoe Lake, which is fun for kids obsessed with trains! The Banff red chairs at Muleshoe are an ideal spot to sit and take in the scenery.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff is the birthplace of Canada’s national parks. There are plenty of reasons why the Cave and Basin should be part of your itinerary. The boardwalks and interpretive signs on this easy hike in Banff are full of interesting facts about the area and the history of the area.
What better place to contemplate what you learn along the boardwalks and soak up the scenery than in a pair of red chairs!
Silverhorn Creek Campground
Silverhorn Creek Campground is located on the Icefields Parkway. The campground is suited to large RVs and trailers. While it may not the most private campground around, you can seek the out the Banff red chairs here.
You’ll also find plenty of other beautiful hikes in the area. After a day hiking, take some time to relax in the red chairs back at the campground.
Glacier Lake Trail
The Glacier Lake trail is also found on the Icefields parkway. While the hike to Glacier Lake is 8.9 km each way, you won’t have to complete the full distance to find the red chairs here. This trail becomes snow-free early in the season, making a good option when you want to hike before the rest of the trails are ready.
Just 4.3 km return to the Howse River Viewpoint will get you to the Banff red chairs here.
What are the Banff Red Chairs all about?
The idea behind the red chairs in Banff is that it gives people a place to relax and reflect, a time to connect with nature and the surroundings.
Whether you agree with this idea or not, in our experience they are popular and you’ll often come across them already occupied!
Where are the red chairs in Banff?
If you’ve found a few sets but wanted a quick list of the remaining locations of the red chairs in Banff, here it is:
- Valleyview Picnic Area
- Cascade Ponds
- Lake Minnewanka
- Two Jack Lake
- Tunnel Mountain
- Cave and Basin National Historic Site
- Sulphur Mountain Summit
- Hoodoos Viewpoint
- Muleshoe Picnic Area
- Silverhorn Creek Campground
- Glacier Lake Trail
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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.