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Scenic Bow Valley Parkway & Lake Louise

Driving & Sightseeing Guide


Driving Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake Louise is MUST do and see.

This driving trip is one full day trip and provides you with time to take a few pictures and capture the sights and sounds forever in your memory. If you want to do something like serious hiking, you might need extra day for it.

Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A)

Drive slowly along this Parkway( 1A) from Banff to Lake Louise. This is a wilderness corridor so keep the speed down and allow plenty of space if you do see wildlife.

The 51 kilometers Bow Valley Parkway is paralleling Highway-1 between Banff and Lake Louise.

Accessed five minutes west of Banff or directly from Lake Louise village.

This scenic road offers viewpoints, picnic sites, trails, and roadside interpretative panels, as well as quaint cottage accommodation along the way. The road is narrow and curvy; slow down for cyclists and wildlife.

It has 13 interpretive stops along the highway.

NOTE: Most hiking trails on Bow Valley Parkway are closed in spring to ensure the area remains a high quality home for wildlife.

Click here for Mandatory Season Travel Restriction of Bow Valley Parkway

Flames of Life - Prescribed Burn (14 KM from Banff)

Heading west on Bow Valley Parkway, around 14 Km from Banff, you will reach area where control fire are used to stimulate plan growth and support natural animal habitats.

Here. you will see beautiful sea of mixture brown and green.

Johnston Canyon (25 KM from Banff)

Heading west on Bow Valley Parkway, around 25 Kim from Banff, you will reach Johnson Canyon which was formed by rushing water 8000 years ago.

It is one of the best walking and snowshoeing experience in Banff. This canyon offers waterfalls after waterfalls, unique walkways along the deep rugged canyon wall.

Walkways along the deep rugged canyon wall.

You can choose 20 minutes easy walk to the lower falls (1.1 km), or 45 minutes hike to upper falls (2.7 km).

Castle Cliffs (32 KM from Banff)

Castle Mountain on Bow Valley Parkway

Pull-off Castle Cliffs viewpoint parking area on right of the west-bound parkway. From here, you will be stunned by the alpine scenery with Castle Mountain at the background.

Morant’s Curve (48 KM from Banff)

When you drive on west bound of the parkway around 48 km, you will see when the road lead you big turning bend towards left, and there are big opening view at left. The pull-off Outlet Creek parking area is at right on the parkway (the sign is only visible when traveling east).

View from driving on west bound - Morant's Curve at left, Outlet Creek parking lot at right

From here, you are looking down on Morant’s Curve - wonderful view of Bow Valley, river and curved rail line with glorious peaks.

Morant's Curve - Copyright Postcard Factory

You will quickly realize why this is one of the world’s most famous locations for train photography.

The final five kilometers winding road through sub-alpine spruce forest will lead you to Lake Louise. At the T-intersection, the left (Lake Louise Drive) will take you down to the village of Lake Louise and Lake Louise, the right takes you up to the Lake Louise ski hill.

Lake Louise Area

Lake Louise area is hiker’s paradise. It worth to spend extra time for hiking and enjoy enjoying jaw-dropping scenery where your car cannot reach.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise Drive takes you all ways to Lake Louise and Chateau.

It is most famous and popular photographic place in Banff National Park. In summer you can walk along the lake shore, rent canoe, or explorer Chateau Lake Louise.

In winter, you can skate, cross country ski on the lake, or take sleigh ride along the Lake ashore.

If you have time, you can hike up to either Anges Lake Tea House (3.5km one way, 400m elevation), or Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House (5.3km one way, 365m elevation).  It worth to take extra time to hike up either Tea House.

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake Road which branch off Lake Louise Drive will take you to destination (13 KM).

If you have time, walk along the lake or rent a canoe.

Climb up the top of rock pile which is opposite of the logs on the lake shore, you will see the jaw-dropping scenery of mountain peaks reflected blue waters.

The best time to see the reflection is early morning or later afternoon when sunlight sprays on mountains.

If you are hiking lover and you want to spend extra day in Lake Louise, you can take hiking trails such as Consolation Lakes (Easy 2.9 km one way), Larch Valley (Moderate 4.3 km one way, 535 m elevation), Eiffel Lake (Moderate 5.6 km one way, 370m elevation), Sentinel Pass (Difficult 5.8 km one way, 725m Elevation), Wenchmna Pass (Moderate 9.7Km one way, 720m elevation).

NOTE: The road to Moraine Lake is closed for vehicle in winter. People normally reach there by cross country skiing along the road.

Click here for Banff area driving and sightseeing itineraries.

Click here for Icefields Parkway driving and sightseeing itineraries.

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