I was finally able to visit Banff National Park, Canada recently. I’ve been wanting to go for several years. It exceeded my expectations and was so amazing. We spent one day there. We saw Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and hiked to Lake Agnes. I think Moraine lake was my favorite. It’s a bit of a brighter blue than the famous Lake Louise and the mountains surrounding it are just so tall and jagged. I would have loved to have more time because there were more hikes I wanted to do but we were on a tight schedule. I would also like to take one of the canoes out on a lake. I will definitely be going back some day to see more of the Canadian Rockies.
This park can get super crowded. It is Canada’s oldest and most visited National Park. Navigating the congestion can be challenging. Before we went I read a comment on Trip Advisor. Somebody said they went there in the summer and the parking lot for Lake Louise was full by 4:30 A.M. I was shocked by that and really nervous we wouldn’t actually get to see much. I have a few tips I’d like to share because we had a very successful visit. We planned on going straight to Lake Louise because that lake is more popular so we wanted to get there before the lot filled up. Both lakes have very limited parking. As we pulled in we saw that the lot for Moraine Lake was already full so we thought it was hopeless. It turns out that Moraine Lake just has less parking spaces. We were able to get a spot at Lake Louise with no issues. I’d say the lot was 85% full though. It’s $10.50 per person to park there for the whole day. You can also just avoid the parking situation all together and take a but from town but they don’t allow dogs and we had ours. We had no choice but to try to get parking.
Tips for Visiting
1. Try to get to the park before or at least by sunrise. We got there just after sunrise (because we had to make a bathroom stop). Since it was late September it wasn’t a huge deal. Summer is more crowded but September is still busy season. If you want to go in Winter that would probably make things even easier but I don’t know what the lakes look like if there is snow.
2. If you are planning to take the bus you must buy a bus ticket in advance. They are reservation only and by the time we got there they were completely sold out. Plan ahead if you want to take the bus.
3. If the spot you are trying to visit has no parking, rearrange your schedule and come back. People are constantly leaving and coming and spots definitely become available as the day goes on. I’ve heard parking isn’t bad later in the day. You can do one of the less crowded hikes. It’s the lakes that everybody is trying to see.
4. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Water was super difficult to find. We had a water bottle and needed to fill it up and couldn’t find a fountain. There are cafes and places you can buy food and water but they were all super crowded and extremely expensive.
5. Make sure to check the weather in advance. Try to visit when it’s clear and sunny if you want the lakes to appear super bright blue. We got pretty lucky. It was very foggy when we first arrived. We had to wait for the fog to clear to see the water. Also, make sure to bring warm enough clothing. The hike up to Lake Agnes is literally in the snow. I didn’t bring enough warm clothing.