6-Day Banff Canadian Rockies Road Trip: 20 Best Stops To Make

I cannot believe I turned 30 before ever visiting the Canadian Rockies. I have been totally missing out on life!

And if you’re planning a trip or even just thinking about planning a Canada road trip to visit the likes of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, I am so envious of you! The majestic beauty of Alberta is jaw-dropping and something that every nature lover needs to witness with their own eyeballs!

The Canadian Rockies area has easily become one of my top favorite destinations for a road trip, offering breathtaking natural beauty and endless outdoor activities.

You can expect a little something of everything! We’re talking hot springs, snow-capped peaks, lush green meadows, and the bluest lakes you’ll ever see in your life.

While not exactly the same road trip I did during my last visit to British Columbia and Alberta, this is a suggested itinerary I came up with for a future road trip that I hope to do in the coming years.

After doing a bunch of research (mixed in with my own experiences) to come up with it, I think it makes for a perfect road trip through the Canadian Rockies!

This Canadian Rockies road trip itinerary will take you through both British Columbia and Alberta, to the following destinations: Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park (Lake Louise and Moraine Lake), Yoho National Park (Spiral Tunnels, Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake), the town of Golden, and MORE!

Some of these might sound familiar, and some probably new. But don’t worry, we’ll get into all the details below!

You ready for one epic heck of a road trip? Let’s get into the details!

This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!

Need a rental car for your trip? To find cheap rental cars, I recommend Rentalcars.com.

Where Are The Canadian Rockies?

Peyto Lake - Canada National Park Road Trip
Peyto Lake – Banff NP

Not to be confused with The Rockies in the USA, the Canadian Rockies are a mountain range located in western Canada, stretching from the province of British Columbia to the province of Alberta.

The range is part of the larger Rocky Mountains and is known for its stunning natural beauty, including towering peaks, glacial lakes, and lush green forests. The region is home to several national parks, including Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, which are among the most popular parks in Canada.

This area is a total haven for outdoor lovers! Visitors can explore the parks on foot, by bike, or by car. No matter the method of getting around, taking in the breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys is effortless — the beauty literally surrounds you at all times!

The Canadian Rockies are also home to several charming mountain towns, such as Banff, Canmore, Golden, and Jasper, which offer a range of accommodations, restaurants, and shops for visitors to enjoy.

Canmore - Canada National Park Road Trip

Best Time To Take A Road Trip Of The Canadian Rockies

The best time to take a road trip through the Canadian Rockies and visit the likes of Banff National Park and Yoho National Park is during the summer months, from June to September.

During this time, the weather is generally warm and sunny, and the roads are clear of snow and ice. This makes it easier to access the parks and enjoy the many outdoor activities that they offer, such as hiking, canoeing on turquoise lakes, ogling at turquoise lakes, camping, and just being outside in general.

In addition to the pleasant weather conditions, the summer months also offer longer daylight hours, which means more time to explore the parks and take in the stunning scenery. Many of the park’s attractions and activities are also open during this time, including the gondolas, hot springs, and boat tours.

However, it’s important to note that the summer months are also the busiest time of year in the parks, which means that there will be more crowds and higher prices for accommodations and activities.

If you prefer a quieter and/or a more budget-friendly experience, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of May or October. The weather may be slightly cooler, but the parks are still beautiful and offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure.

NOTE: Wildfires in the late summer/fall are something to be aware of. During my own visit to the area last mid-September, there was a large wildfire that ended up closing off most of the Jasper National Park area. Be aware that this may impact your visit — you’ll want to be adaptable with your travel plans if you encounter fire closures.

Moraine Lake - Canada National Park Road Trip
Moraine Lake – a bit more hazy than normal due to nearby wildfires in the month of September.

Where To Fly To Start Your Canadian Rockies Road Trip

The first stop of this road trip is Radium Hot Springs, which is closest to the following major airport: Calgary International Airport (YYC).

If you are flying into Canada, this is where you’ll be catching a flight into and renting a car from.

Since this road trip ends in Golden, you will want to book a return flight home from one of two airport options. Golden is less than a 3-hour drive from Calgary International Airport (YYC) and 2.5 hours from the Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) in Cranbrook.

If you’re already in the area and have your own car, this is where you’ll be starting from.

Canadian Rockies Road Trip: Rental Car Logistics

For our road trips, we typically like to pick up rental cars from a nearby airport (there’s often more availability at the airports compared to rental car shops in town). For this road trip, aim to pick up a rental car from the airport you fly into.

We typically like to rent from Hertz. But only when they have good pricing and they happen to be offering no one-way drop-off fee. (Obviously, your results may vary, but check them out regardless!)

And with their Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program (completely free to join), you’ll get counter-free pickup at select locations, and you get to choose your own car upon arrival! You can check out rental car pricing and availability here.

Otherwise, Rentalcars.com is our go-to these days! They’re the world’s largest online car rental service and help you compare prices of all the rental car companies out there. This is the best way to see the lowest prices out there.

Not only does the Rentalcars.com tool allow you to compare rental car prices across the major rental car companies, but most of the time you can book with no prepayment and no cancellation fees. You’ll only be charged if you show up to pick up the car.

It’s great for people like me who like to make ‘just in case’ bookings early on while continuously searching for a better deal up until the week of the actual trip!

Canadian Rockies Road Trip: 20 Best Stops To Make

Day 0: Calgary

Calgary - Canadian Rockies Road Trip

Since this road trip starts with you flying into Calgary International Airport, feel free to spend the first day here. If you’re traveling with a group and you happen to have different flights, I’d recommend grabbing yourself a hotel in Calgary while waiting for others to also fly in.

If you only have one day to spend in Calgary, there are a few must-see neighborhoods and attractions that you won’t want to miss! Start your day by heading to the Kensington neighborhood, which is known for its trendy shops, cafes, and restaurants. Grab a coffee and a pastry at Regal Cat Cafe, then take a stroll through the neighborhood to check out the local boutiques and galleries!

Next, and only if you’re into aerial city views, head to the Calgary Tower for stunning views of the city. From the top of the tower, you can see the Rocky Mountains in the distance, as well as the city’s skyline.

After taking in the view, head down to Stephen Avenue, a pedestrian-only street filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Grab lunch at the popular Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Huong Viet, or try the famous Alberta beef at The Keg Steakhouse.

If you’re into animals, head to the Calgary Zoo to see over 1,000 animals from around the world. The zoo is home to everything from tigers and gorillas to penguins and kangaroos.

After the zoo, head to the Inglewood neighborhood a cutesy area known for its vintage and antique shops, as well as its trendy boutiques and art galleries. Grab dinner at the popular Italian restaurant, Spolumbo’s, or at the nearby Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Silver Dragon.

Before heading back to your hotel for the night, you can check out Greta Bar for drinks and games or for something a bit different, visit Cowboys Dance Hall, a lively western-style country bar where you can drink, gamble, and dance the night away!

Where To Stay In Calgary: Alt Hotel Calgary East Village or Hotel Le Germain Calgary

Day 1: Radium Hot Springs

Start your road trip in the town of Radium Hot Springs, located just under 3 hours from Calgary in the Columbia Valley in British Columbia. This small town, set in a valley inside the southern border of Kootenay National Park, is known for its natural hot springs, which are a perfect way to relax and unwind after a long day of driving!

Open year-round, the hot springs pools are filled with naturally heated water containing a unique blend of scentless minerals. They are surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests, making them a perfect spot for nature lovers. There’s one pool that sits at a hot 102°F and a second pool at 84°F to help cool you off!

If you’re reading this road trip itinerary while you’re already on your trip, not to worry! They have lockers, towels, and even swimsuits available for rent.

For more hot spring goodness nearby, consider these too:

  • Fairmont Hot Springs pools – just 30 minutes away from Radium. The hot pool, cool pool, and dive tank overlook the Columbia Valley and Purcell Mountain Range. While you’re there, explore the town of Fairmont, where you can go ziplining and shopping.
  • Lussier Hot Springs – these are natural hot springs located in Whiteswan Lake Park, near the park entrance at the 17.5km marker on the Whiteswan forest service road.

Where To Stay In Radium Hot Springs: Inn on Canyon or Piccadilly Motelboth offer free breakfast to guests!

Day 2: Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park - Canadian Rockies Road Trip

From Radium Hot Springs, it’s time to get your nature on at Kootenay National Park. With your one day in the park, there are a few must-see natural landmarks and hikes that you won’t want to miss.

Paint Pots

Start your day by heading to Paint Pots, a unique geological formation that is made up of colorful mineral deposits. The low-intensity out-and-back hike to the Paint Pots is just 1.3 miles (about 2 kilometers) long and takes you through a beautiful forested area. Once you reach the Paint Pots, you’ll be amazed by the vibrant colors and unique landscape!

Marble Canyon

Next, head to Marble Canyon, a beautiful gorge carved out of limestone and marble that is a popular hiking destination as well. To best experience the canyon, you’re gonna want to hop out of the car again. The trail is just under 2 kilometers long and takes you through the canyon, over bridges, and past gorgeous waterfalls!

If you’re worried about being tired with back-to-back hikes, don’t be! This is a great hike for families and those looking for a leisurely stroll. Both of the hikes above are easy to explore on foot and make for great photo opportunities.

Stanley Glacier Trail

If you’re feeling up for another hike, head to the Stanley Glacier Trail for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. This hike is a 6.8-mile out-and-back trail (just over 10 kilometers long) and is a bit more challenging than the previous hikes, but the views are well worth it.

Once you’re done exploring Kootenay NP, it’s time to head to your next home base so you can get ready to explore Banff NP the day after.

Pro Tip: You can choose to stay in Banff or in Canmore for your 2-night stay. Though Banff is slightly closer to the national park, accommodations here are a lot pricier than in Canmore. Canmore is just a 20-minute drive away from the town of Banff, so it’s a great alternative for those on a budget!

Where To Stay in Banff:

Where To Stay in Canmore:


Parks passes are required at all Canadian national parks. Unless you have a yearly pass, these are daily entrance fees.

If you don’t get the yearly pass (~$145 for a family or group for one year), it will cost ~$9-10.50 per person per day (depending on if you’re an adult or senior). Youth up to age 17 are FREE!

Traveling with a larger group? The family/group rate ($21 per day) is going to be the best deal. Family/Group = up to seven people arriving in a single vehicle in a national park.

So if you’re looking to save on NP entrance fees, it might be a better idea to rent a minivan instead of two cars for groups of 5 or more.

You can find more info about NP rates here. The rates are the same for all Canadian national parks, including Yoho, Banff, and Jasper NP.

Want to visit the top highlights of Banff National Park? Book the Hop-On and Hop-off Banff Bus and discover the park at your own pace — without having to worry about Banff’s many parking issues!

Day 3: Banff National Park

It’s a new day! After waking up at your accommodation not too far away from Banff National Park, make your way to the park.

Located in the Alberta province, Banff is known for its stunning mountain scenery and abundance of outdoor activities. Take some time to explore the park, either by hiking one of the many trails, or by taking a scenic drive through the park. Or both!

Lake Louise

First up: Lake Louise. No trip to Banff National Park is complete without a visit to Lake Louise, one of the most iconic destinations in the Canadian Rockies. This beautiful lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and is a popular spot for hiking, fishing, and canoeing.

Lake Louise - Canada National Park Road Trip

You’ll probably come across other blogs telling you to go canoeing here, but I’d recommend skipping it due to the extremely high prices. (Don’t worry, we’ll go canoeing in another nearby lake with much better prices!) I recommend taking a hike here instead.

Take a hike to Lake Agnes Tea House

The hike that we did (which I highly recommend) was the Lake Agnes Tea House hike. This is basically a hike to a functioning tea house that sits next to a lake!

On this hike, you’ll start with parking your car at the Lake Louise Parking Lot. After enjoying some morning views of Lake Louise, hop onto the Lake Agnes Tea House Trailhead.

Along the way, you’ll encounter two lakes–Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes. Lake Agnes is the star of the show here! Framed by magnificent jagged mountains, Lake Agnes is one of the most scenic lakes in all of Banff National Park.

This trail is wildly popular, so if you don’t get an early start, you can forget about enjoying a warm drink at the tea house. The line gets crazy long by late morning.

Still have energy? The fun doesn’t have to stop here. If you have the time and energy, continue from the tea house onto the Big Beehive Trail.

By hiking the short yet steep Big Beehive Trail, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views of Lake Louise found in the entire park. I’m serious, just look at the views! This hike is a must-do!

Big Beehive Trail - Canadaian Rockies National Park Road Trip

To get back to your car, just come back the way you came, being sure to soak in the afternoon views of Lake Louise! We found the afternoon views to be much better than the morning views (due to the extra sunlight beaming onto the turquoise waters).

After your hike, it’s time to relax!

Banff Upper Hot Springs

If you’re not ready to go back to town, one thing you could add to your itinerary is the Banff Upper Hot Springs, where you can soak in natural hot springs surrounded by stunning mountain views. You can find more info about day-use rates here.

From there, head back to your home base, either Banff or Canmore, for dinner and a twilight stroll through town!


The hike options from Lake Louise covered above are:

  • Distance from lot to Lake Agnes: 4.2 miles (6.8 km) out and back
  • Distance from lot to Big Beehive: 6.2 miles (10 km) out and back

Parking Info: Lake Louise has paid parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between May to October. You’ll be required to pay $12.25 per vehicle per day to park here. At the pay station, you’ll need to input your license plate number. The machines take credit card.

Shuttle Info: If you don’t want to deal with the hecticness of finding parking (especially if you’re visiting later in the day), one of the best options is the Park and Ride shuttle service operated by Parks Canada. These shuttles run from May to October.

IMPORTANT: To use the shuttle, you MUST make reservations in advance. You will need to reserve your shuttle ticket online and park your vehicle at the Park and Ride, located at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. 

If you book the Park and Ride to get to Lake Louise, you will be able to ride the Lake Connector Shuttle for free! This shuttle is a great way to get to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise at no extra cost.

Hop-On Hop-Off Info: If the Park and Ride is fully booked on the day you plan on visiting, another option is this Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour from Banff. This is one of the best bus tours near Banff since it hits the most popular places (aka the hardest places to find parking) including Lake Louise Lakefront, Moraine Lake, and Johnston Canyon!

Day 4: Banff National Park

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake - Canada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Moraine Lake is another iconic destination in the Canadian Rockies. This stunning turquoise lake is surrounded by towering peaks and is a popular spot for photography, hiking, and canoeing. The lake is also a great place to spot wildlife, with a variety of animals including bears, elk, and moose often seen in the area.

Finding parking at Moraine Lake is even more challenging than parking at Lake Louise. Almost tenfold! Apparently, spots fill up by 6:30 to 7 am? Hard to believe, but unless you show up EARLY, the “lot full” sign will be up and the parking lot will be completely closed off to visitors coming by car.

If you want to visit Moraine Lake, you will need to take the Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Public Transit, and commercial buses. As of 2023, these are the only vehicles permitted from June to mid-October. Find out more here to plan your visit.

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake Banff National Park Road Trip Itinerary

If you’re open to driving about 30 minutes to your next destination, you’re in for a treat. Peyto Lake is another stunning glacial lake located in Banff National Park, known for its vibrant turquoise color. And by vibrant, I really mean vibrant!

In fact, the view of the lake from the nearby Bow Summit is one of the most photographed views in the Canadian Rockies. I loved spending time at this viewpoint due to the fact that the tourists are few and far between.

It’s a lot calmer than the other more popular lakes in Banff (Louise and Moraine), so if you’re looking for a more quiet experience, this is a great little stop.

Take a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain

The iconic Banff Gondola takes visitors on a scenic ride up Sulphur Mountain, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. At the top, there is a boardwalk that takes you to the summit of the mountain, where you can enjoy even more stunning views.

Explore the town of Banff

Banff - Canada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

The town of Banff is a charming mountain town with plenty of shops, restaurants, and galleries to explore. Take a stroll down Banff Avenue and check out the local boutiques and souvenir shops.

Stop for a coffee or a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants in town. You can also visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies to learn more about the history and culture of the area.

Explore the town of Canmore

Canmore - Canada National Park Road Trip

And if you didn’t have the chance to explore the cute little town of Canmore, today is the day to head out of the park to do so! Like Banff, the town is filled with cute gift shops, restaurants, and bars so do spend an hour or two strolling around aimlessly.

Day 5: Yoho National Park

Spiral Tunnels

It’s time to cross back over to the British Columbia side for the day. Your next stop will be the Spiral Tunnels, a series of railway tunnels located in Yoho National Park.

These tunnels, which were built in the early 1900s to help trains navigate the steep terrain of the Kicking Horse Pass, offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. If you time it right, you can see a train exiting from the top of the tunnel while it’s final cars are still entering at the bottom. Watch from the main viewing area on the north side of the highway.

Another way to experience the Spiral Tunnels is to take a scenic train ride through the tunnels and surrounding area, which offers a unique perspective on the landscape that you can’t get from the ground.

Takakkaw Falls

After you’ve marveled at the Spiral Tunnels, it’s time to head to Takakkaw Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies. Located in Yoho National Park, these falls are fed by the Daly Glacier and drop a staggering 804 feet (245 meters) into the valley below.

The best way to experience Takakkaw Falls is to take a short hike to the base of the falls, where you can get up close and personal with the cascading water.

Natural Bridge Lower Falls

Natural Bridge Lower Falls - Canada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Visiting Natural Bridge Lower Falls is a must-do activity for anyone taking a road trip through the Canadian Rockies. It’s such an easy stop to make from the main road.

The waterfall is created by the Kicking Horse River, which flows through a narrow canyon and over a series of cascades before plunging into a deep pool at the base of the falls. The water then flows under a natural rock bridge, a unique geological formation that has been carved out by the river over thousands of years.

The falls are easily accessible from the Trans-Canada Highway and are located just a short walk from the parking lot. Once you reach the falls, you can walk out onto the natural rock bridge and feel the spray of the waterfall on your face!

Natural Bridge Lower Falls Yoho National Park - Canada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

The sound of the rushing water and the beauty of the surrounding scenery make for an unforgettable experience. 

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake - Yoho National Park Things To Do 1-Day Itinerary

Emerald Lake is a stunning glacial lake located in Yoho National Park. The lake is known for its vibrant turquoise color, which is caused by light reflecting off the fine glacial silt in the water.

This was one of my personal favorite lakes in the entire Canadian Rockies, partially due to the fact that it wasn’t overrun by tourists. Unlike what you’ll experience at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake is actually tranquil and calm.

One of the best ways to experience Emerald Lake is by canoeing on its calm waters. THIS is where I recommend you rent canoes and take off for the waters!

Emerald Lake - Yoho National Park

The lake is very calm, making it a great place for beginners to try their hand at canoeing. The rental rates for canoes at Emerald Lake are also relatively affordable, with hourly rates being at least $20 cheaper than at other popular lakes in the area.

Highly recommend getting out on the water for a bit — it’s fun, and a great little arm workout!

Have lunch in Field

Field - Canada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Next up on your road trip is the charming village of Field, which is located just outside of Banff National Park. Field is a great place to stop and stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat, and explore the local shops and galleries.

There is no better place to eat in Field than Truffle Pigs Bistro & Lodge!

Truffle Pigs Bistro - Canada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Be sure to visit the historic train station, which is now home to a museum and gift shop.

After your day out in Yoho National Park, it’s time to check in to somewhere new to lay your head for the night! Your last day of this Canadian Rockies road trip will be spent in Golden.

Where To Stay in Golden: Golden Acres Mountain Lodge or Holiday Inn Express Golden-Kicking Horse, an IHG Hotel

Read More: 16 Incredible Things To Do In Yoho National Park Of Canada

Day 6: Golden

Finally, no road trip through the Canadian Rockies would be complete without a stop in Golden, a small town located at the confluence of the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers. Today is all about relaxing and unwinding after so many days of nature!

Golden is known for its rich history, outdoor adventure opportunities, and cultural attractions. With six national parks in its backyard, Golden is a popular base for national park explorers.

Be sure to visit the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rivers.

Next, head to the downtown area to explore the local shops and restaurants. Grab breakfast at the popular Big Bend Cafe, which is known for its hearty breakfast dishes and friendly service. After breakfast, take a stroll down Main Street and check out the local boutiques and galleries.

In the afternoon, head to the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Take a gondola ride up the mountain and enjoy a picnic lunch at the top. You can also explore the hiking trails and take in the stunning scenery.

For dinner, head to the Whitetooth Mountain Bistro, which is known for its locally-sourced ingredients and delicious Canadian cuisine.

Looking for something more adventurous? Because Golden is also the center for some of the best whitewater rafting trips in the area, you can find powerful grade III and IV rapids alongside the breathtaking scenery of the Kicking Horse Valley.

Lastly, if you’re into wolves, then you might really like Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre! This wildlife center focuses on the conservation of wolves and other wild canids, as well as educating visitors about these animals and their role in the ecosystem. Guided tours and educational programs are offered to visitors.

How To End Your Canadian Rockies Road Trip

Golden is less than a 3-hour drive from Calgary International Airport (YYC) and 2.5 hours from the Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) in Cranbrook.

If you’ve flown to Canada for this road trip, choose one of these airports to depart from. After your stay in Golden, you can drive to the airport and drop your rental car off.

As a rule of thumb, flights from Calgary will tend to be cheaper as it’s an international airport, meaning there will be more flight availability from there.

Got More Time? Other Nearby Destinations To Visit

If you have a few extra days to spare for this road trip through Alberta and British Columbia, here are a few other destinations I recommend you make time for:

  • Jasper National Park – Located approximately 3.5 hours northwest of Calgary, Jasper National Park is known for its stunning mountain scenery, glaciers, and abundant wildlife. It offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and wildlife watching.
  • Glacier National Park of Canada – Located approximately 2 hours west of Golden, Glacier National Park of Canada is known for its rugged mountains, glaciers, and abundance of wildlife. One of my favorite hikes of all time is in Glacier NP!
  • Revelstoke – Located approximately 1.5 hours west of Golden, Revelstoke is a charming mountain town that offers a range of outdoor activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. It is also home to the Revelstoke Mountain Resort, which is known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding.
  • Vancouver and Richmond – Located approximately 8 hours west of Calgary (or a short plane ride away), Vancouver and Richmond are bustling cities that offer a range of attractions and activities. Vancouver is known for its stunning natural beauty, multicultural neighborhoods, and world-class dining and shopping. Richmond is known for its vibrant Asian community, delicious food, and historic sites.

Essential Tips For Your Canadian Rockies Road Trip

Here are some essential tips for road-tripping around the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia:

  1. Plan your route in advance: Make sure you have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to see in that day. Cell phone service is spotty and even non-existent in some parts of the National Parks lands.
  2. Parks passes are required at all Canadian national parks. If you don’t get the yearly pass ($145 for a family or group for one year), it will cost ~$10 per person per day (depending on if you’re an adult or senior). Youth (up to age 17) are FREE! You can find more info about NP rates here.
  3. Traveling with a larger group? The family/group rate ($21 per day) is going to be the best deal. Family/Group = up to seven people arriving in a single vehicle in a national park.
  4. Be aware that since Banff the town is located within Banff National Park, you will have to pay the national park entrance fee to enter the town if you don’t have the yearly pass. You’ll want to make sure you only visit Banff town on a day when you also plan to do national park things!
  5. If visiting Lake Louise, get an early start in order to get parking. Parking is such a hassle within Banff National Park, so it really does take some planning. As long as you arrive early (I recommend no later than 8 am), you won’t have too many issues with finding a spot.
  6. Lake Moraine is a pain in the butt to visit. Taking public transportation is likely the only viable option going forward. As of 2023, the Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Public Transit, and commercial buses are the only vehicles permitted in the parking lot from June to mid-October. Find out more here to plan your visit.
  7. A great alternative to avoid all the parking issues is to opt for the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour from Banff OR this Banff National Park Tour. Both include visits to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake — without all the parking headache.
  8. Check the weather every morning before your day begins: The weather in the Canadian Rockies can be really unpredictable, so it’s important to check the forecast before you set out. Pack accordingly, including warm clothing and rain gear. Better yet, just keep a rain jacket or travel umbrella in the trunk of your car in the case of random rain showers.
  9. Bring a map with you in the car: It’s always a good idea to have a physical map on hand, especially if you’re going to be exploring some of the more remote areas of the Rockies. At the entrance of the national parks, be sure to grab one from the park ranger. Make sure you also have a GPS device or smartphone with a reliable map app. We like to have Google Maps downloaded for offline use!
  10. Pack plenty of supplies: This is a road trip! Expect hours of driving. Make sure you have enough food, water, snacks, and other supplies to last the duration of your trip. It’s also a good idea to pack a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a spare tire.
  11. Be prepared for wildlife encounters: The Canadian Rockies are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bears, moose, and elk. Be prepared for encounters by making noise when hiking, keeping a safe distance from wildlife, and storing food properly.
  12. Respect the environment: The Canadian Rockies and the national parks are a beautiful and fragile ecosystem, so make sure to leave no trace and follow Leave No Trace principles when you’re out exploring.
  13. Stay safe: Always drive defensively and be aware of your surroundings. Follow the speed limits and be mindful of other drivers on the road.

I hope these tips are helpful as you plan your road trip through the Canadian Rockies!


License and registration | This is a no-brainer, but always good to check you have all documents before it’s too late and you get too far away from home. Do NOT leave home without them. They are road trip essentials!

Spare Tire | In addition to carrying a spare tire with you, don’t forget to check your current tire conditions before you set off as well.

Jumper Cables / Car Jump Starter | A must-have for any road trip! If you’re looking to invest in something exponentially more powerful/convenient than simple jumper cables, get the NOCO Boost HD Car Battery Jump Starter Box. This tool was sent from heaven and serves as a car jump starter, portable power bank, LED flashlight, and 12-volt portable power–all in one!

iOttie car mount | This is my partner in crime on any road trip. It’s got an amazing grip and popping your phone in and out of the mount could not be easier. If you’re renting a rental car and you’re not sure if it has a navigation screen, bring a phone mount with you. The iOttie attaches by suction, so it’s easy to transport from car to car.

Roadside Emergency Kit | You never know what kind of car trouble you may encounter on the road. This convenient little kit contains 42 roadside emergency components, including jumper cables, an aluminum flashlight and batteries, 2-in-1 screwdriver, duct tape, poncho, cable ties, bandages, towelettes, and zipper-lock bags.

Trunk Organizer | With any road trip comes lots and lots of stuff to pack. Keep your road trip essentials organized with a trunk organizer. Not only will this make it so much easier to find what you need, but it will also lead to more space in your trunk for you to pack other necessities.

Portable Cooler | Coolers are a must for any road trip. Not only will you be able to keep beverages cold and refreshing, but you will also be able to keep perishables fresh. A portable hard cooler will allow you to pack picnic lunches, bring cheese and jams, and more.

Looking for more Canada / national park travel tips? You may also like:

The Perfect 7-Day Banff And Jasper National Park Itinerary

9 Beautiful Lakes in Banff National Park To Add To Your Itinerary

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