Imagine rowing a canoe through a gatorade blue lake as jagged mountains stick up above you. Craft the perfect Banff & Jasper Itinerary in the Canadian Rockies to experience this mountain paradise 🥰. Everywhere you turn natural beauty is just staring you right in the face.
I’ve now been to Banff & Jasper National Parks twice and both times completely blew me away! I’ve been to all 50 states in the US and 45 countries 🌍, and yet I think that the Canadian Rockies may be the prettiest place I’ve ever been. With those vibrant blue lakes and the rugged mountain peaks, it’s truly a wonder of the world.
Below you will find my detailed recommendations for one week in Banff & Jasper National Parks. This itinerary assumes that you are going to visit during the warm weather months ☀️ when trails are snow free and all roads are open. You’ll also find a map with all of the locations as well as tips for visiting Banff & Jasper.
You Might Also Like These Posts:
- 10 Things to Do in Jasper National Park
- Three Day Banff Itinerary
- The Perfect Banff Day Hike: Little Beehive Trail Guide
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. If you use these posts, I may get a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks for your support!
Table of Contents
Planning a Banff & Jasper Trip
Best Time to Go to Banff & Jasper
You can visit Banff & Jasper throughout the year. Each season brings magic ✨✨, so timing your visit depends on what you want to do in the parks. That said, this itinerary is mostly written for summer road trips. You can still use this as a base for your plans but many of the roads do not open until late Spring and they close in late Fall.
There’s no better time to visit the Canadian Rockies than in the summer. The bright blue lakes have thawed, so their colors really shine, roads have opened, and wildlife is out and about. You’ll be able to experience the true magic of Banff & Jasper!
The only drawback with visiting during summer is the crowds and the prices are high. You’ll find that a lot of the trails are packed full with people, you’ll need to book shuttles to get to the lakes in advance, and you will probably pay a pretty penny 💸💸 to stay in a hotel in the area. But, if you truly want to see it all, then summer is still the best time for a visit!
Have you ever seen larches? Well, these vibrant trees 🍂🍂 start to dot the mountain skyline in the Fall, which create incredible landscapes. Seeing the autumn scene in the Canadian Rockies is unparalleled.
If you visit in the early Fall, most of the trails are still open because snow has yet to cling to the ground. Temperatures may be a bit lower, so you’ll want to layer up 🧥 and prepare for the crisp weather. Later in the fall, crowds have dwindled, so it’s very quiet, but you may see more snowfall.
Skiers ⛷ get excited, because the Canadian Rockies are a fantastic destination. There are multiple ski resorts in the Banff & Jasper area. Many skieers flock to these destinations for the winter time when the mountains are covered in snow and the lakes are frozen over.
Visitors that don’t ski or snowboard can still enjoy the winter scenes ☃️ in the parks. These areas are some of the prettiest winter scenery that you’ll ever see. It’s a quiet but lovely time to visit.
Spring is a season of transformation 🌸🌸. In the early spring, snow still covers most of the mountains and the trails. The lakes are just beginning to thaw and will most likely still be frozen over. But, it’s a nice quiet time to visit.
Later in the spring, the lakes thaw out and some of the trails open up to visitors. You may even get lucky for some nice warm and sunny weather. Wildlife 🦌 starts to peak their heads out and it’s a great time for some sightings!
How to Get to Banff & Jasper
Traveling to Banff & Jasper can take a bit of time, but with the proper planning it can go very smoothly. The best way to get to these areas is to fly into either Calgary or Edmonton and either do a round trip flight ✈️ or fly into one and leave from the other. Calgary is closer to Banff, but Edmonton & Calgary are equidistant to Jasper.
Once you fly into Calgary or Edmonton then you will need to drive to your destinations. You can either get a rental car 🚗, which I highly recommend so you can freely drive around or you can take a Brewster Express shuttle. Then, you can book sightseeing tours on their site as well.
One other option is that you can take the train from Vancouver to Jasper on the Rocky Mountaineer train. However, tickets to this train 🚞 start at around $3500 a person. If you love scenic trains, then this may be worth the ticket price for you.
From Edmonton: Jasper is actually the closest park to Edmonton at just a little over 4 hours away. So, you could either flip this itinerary around or just drive to Banff and then make your way back up. The Yellowhead Highway runs directly from Edmonton to Jasper, and then you can turn onto the Icefields Parkway to get to Banff.
From Calgary: Calgary is just 90 minutes from Banff. You’ll take the Trans-Canada Highway to the West for about 115 kilometers until arriving in Banff. You can continue on the highway to get to Lake Louise or turn onto the Icefields Parkway to get to Jasper.
Where to Stay in Banff & Jasper
If you are doing a road trip from Banff to Jasper, then I recommend staying in Banff area/Lake Louise for the first half of the week and Jasper for the second half. There are plenty of campsites, hotels, and lodging options in the area, however, the area is a bit pricey 💰. If you want to save money consider camping or staying in a hostel!
Both Banff & Jasper towns have wonderful restaurants 🍔, shops, and are very close to the parks. So, these towns are both fantastic options for lodging.
From personal experience, we really enjoyed staying in Jasper National Park at the Pyramid Lake Lodge. They offered free yoga 🧘♀️, free paddling for guests, and were located right on the lake!
Best Hotels in the Area:
- Fairmont Banff Springs (Banff, $$$$)
- Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (Lake Louise, $$$$)
- Rimrock Hotel (Banff, $$$$)
- The Dorothy Motel (Banff, $$)
- Banff Boutique Inn (Banff $$)
- Pyramid Lake Lodge (Jasper, $$$)
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (Jasper, $$$$)
- Bear Hill Lodge (Jasper, $$)
Things to Know about Banff & Jasper
💵 The entrance fee to Banff is $10 CAD per adult and $10.50 CAD per adult at Jasper National Park. If you plan on visiting both parks and Yoho, then it makes sense to buy the Family/Group Pass for $145 CAD yearly.
🚌 There is limited parking at Lake Louise, while there is no parking at Lake O’Hara & Moraine Lake. You can purchase shuttle reservations in advance on the Parks Canada website.
☀️ Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Stay alert and look up the weather in advance. If there is any rain in the forecast, it’s best to stick to lower elevations.
⛺️ There are a few campgrounds throughout Banff & Jasper, including one at Lake Louise. However, you will need to get reservations in advance during the peak season.
🐻 The Canadian Rockies is bear country, so make sure to stay bear aware and make loud noises when hiking on the trails. Pack bear spray with you and try to hike in groups of four or more.
🦮 Pets are allowed throughout the Rockies, which is great. However, pets must be in a carrier crate on the shuttles to Lake Louise & Moraine Lake.
⚠️ Many of the roads including the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road are only open seasonally. You can check the road and trail status on the Parks Canada website.
🚣♀️ If you’re bringing your own boat or paddleboard you must follow the Clean, Drain, Dry rules. Then, either get a self certification or get your watercraft inspected.
🍃 Remember to follow the b As always, you want to leave nature looking better than you found it.
What to Pack for a Banff & Jasper Trip
No matter what time of year you go, the most important thing to do is to bring layers! Like most mountainous areas, the mornings and nights are a lot colder than the day time. Especially in the spring and fall, temperatures 🌡 can very by 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, if you plan on hiking, then you should always pack bear spray! Bears live throughout the Rockies, so make sure you know how to use it before you hit the trails!
Banff & Jasper Packing List
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Small Pack
- Hiking Poles
- First Aid Kit
- Bear Spray
- Bug Spray
- Hat to block sun
- Quality Layers!
- Rain jacket or light winter jacket
- Satellite phone
- Canada Parks Pass
How to Get a Shuttle to Lake Louise & Moraine Lake
Beginning in 2023 there is no longer any private parking at Moraine Lake. This means that the only way to get there is to take one of the Parks Canada Shuttles or a private shuttle 🚌. There are also shuttles offered to Lake Louise, because there is limited parking.
You can book shuttle reservations in advance on the Parks Canada website. You’ll simply state how many people are in your group, the time that you want the shuttle and then pay on the site. The time slot is good for an hour ⏰ and is only needed if you leave from the Park & Ride. Otherwise, you just wait in line for the shuttle. Then, take a screenshot or download your reservation for when you get there.
If shuttles are sold out, don’t worry they still release more reservations two days in advance at 8 am Mountain Time. So, you have another chance to get seats.
Banff & Jasper Road Trip Itinerary
Quick Itinerary Breakdown
Day 1: Arrive in Banff Area & Explore Banff
Day 2: Lake Minnewanka, Johnston Canyon, & Sulphur Mountain
Day 3: Explore Yoho National Park
Day 4: Visit Moraine Lake & Lake Louise
Day 5: Drive the Icefields Parkway
Day 6: Spend Day in Jasper National Park & Maligne Lake
Day 7: Day Hike in Jasper & Visit Miette Hot Springs
Day 1: Explore Banff Town
On your first day, you may want to take things a bit slower to adjust to the elevation in the Canadian Rockies. Start your trip in the iconic Banff National Park and Banff town. Since you’re just settling in, you can get a feel for your surroundings.
Spend a few hours walking around Banff town, shopping 🛍 in the cute boutiques, and eating at the various restaurants downtown. There are plenty of fun options to choose from and you will definitely fall in love with this cute town!
Best Restaurants in Banff
- The Bison
- Magpie & Stump
- Farm & Fire
- Park Distillery
- Saffron Bistro
Sunset at Vermillion Lakes
Depending on the time of year, you will either want to visit Vermillion Lakes before or after dinner. The scenic drive to this beautiful lake is just outside of Banff town and it’s a stunning place to watch the sunset 🌅 as the mountains reflect on the water. It’s a great way to end your first day in the area!
Day 2: Lake Minnewanka, Sulphur Mountain, & Bow Valley
Begin your day by visiting the beautiful Lake Minnewanka & Two Jack Lake 🐟. These two lakes are right next to each other and both are incredibly peaceful. They are fantastic spots for a long walk around the water, to spend some time relaxing by the shores, or a paddle through the waters.
After a little bit of time, you can make your way back to the downtown area to head up to Sulphur Mountain. Sulphur Mountain overlooks Banff and at the top you can get 360 degree views over the area. You can choose between a moderate hike up the mountain or to take the gondola up (these start at $75 CAD).
Finish your day of touring by completing the scenic Bow Valley Parkway. This road runs parallel to the TransCanada highway and was the original route to get from Banff to Lake Louise. Now, most people go on this drive to experience the views and hike in the wonderful Johnston Canyon.
Best Stops on Bow Valley Parkway:
- Hillsdale Meadows
- Johnson Canyon
- Moose Meadows
- Rockbound Lake
- Storm Mountain Lookout
Day 3: Yoho National Park
Although Yoho gets less hype than the other parks in the area, in my opinion it’s incredibly underrated. Within the park you can the breathtaking Emerald Lake, visit one of the highest waterfalls in Canada, and take epic hikes 🥾 in the Lake O’Hara area.
If you only have a day to explore this park, then you should choose between the Lake O’Hara area or seeing the other sights in a day. Lake O’Hara has plenty of amazing trails to choose from, but it’s a bit off the beaten path and you need to get a shuttle 🚍. If you do Emerald Lake, then you can also hike to both Wapta and Takakkaw Falls in a day.
Things to See in Yoho National Park:
- Wapta Falls (4 miles, 410 Feet) – Hike to this gushing waterfall
- Emerald Lake – Canoe, Paddle, or Walk around this stunning turquoise lake
- Takakkaw Falls (1 mile, 250 feet) – See one of the highest waterfalls in Canada
- Lake O’Hara – Take a parks shuttle to take one of the amazing hikes in this area
Day 4: Visit Moraine Lake & Lake Louise
You’ll spend this day visiting two of the most famous lakes in the entire world. Both lakes get very crowded, so just allow extra time for parking, shuttles, and trail traffic.
Begin your day at Lake Louise, taking a fantastic day hike around this stunning blue lake 💙. Lake Louise is a fantastic lake that changes hues throughout the year.
My favorite thing to do at Lake Louise is to go on one of the longer hikes that leaves from the shores. You can choose to do one of these hikes to get stellar views over the lake and the Fairmont or paddle on the water here. The Little Beehive hike is one of my all time favorite trails ⭐️, so you shouldn’t miss out!
Hikes that Leave from Lake Louise:
- Little Beehive (5.8 miles, 2000 feet)- Travel up to Lake Agnes Teahouse and then further to great views over Lake Louise
- Big Beehive (6.7 miles, 2500 feet) – Again, you’ll hike up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, but then you’ll continue up a steep climb to great views over the shore
- Plain of 6 Glaciers (9 miles, 2000 feet)- This hike will probably take up most of your day, but you get to see three amazing mountains
Moraine Lake may just be the most beautiful lake in the world. With a bright blue color and jagged peaks that sit above the shores, it makes for an incredible picture 📸. You may have even seen it on a screensaver or two.
In order to get to Moraine Lake you will need to take a shuttle from Lake Louise or bike to the shores. There is no parking 🚫 at the Lake. However, the shuttle system is easy and comes every 15 minutes or so from the Lake Louise parking lot.
Once you get to Moraine Lake you can spend a few hours exploring. Rent a canoe 🛶 for $130 CAD, climb up to the Rockpile (.75 miles), walk around the shoreline, have a picnic, or complete the longer Consolation Lakes Trail (4.6 miles). It depends what you have time for!
Day 5: Drive the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is one of the most epic drives in the entire world. As the road winds 🚙 its ways through the imposing Rocky Mountains, you’ll get views over vibrant blue lakes, beautiful valleys, and plentiful glaciers. Along the way you might even see wildlife like Grizzly Bears, Bighorn Sheep, and Elk. This drive should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Although this drive is technically only a little more than 2.5 hours, you should allow for anywhere from 8-12 hours. The road starts in Lake Louise and ends right before the town of Jasper. There are tons of amazing stops that you will want to make.
If you have time, you should get out to the scenic overlooks 👀, take one of the stunning hikes along the way, or do a tour to the Columbia Icefield. Some of my recommended stops are below, so that you can follow along as you drive.
Best Stops on the Icefields Parkway
- Hector Lake
- Peyto Lake
- Bow Lake
- Parker Ridge Trail (4 mile Hike)- Great hike to Saskatchewan Glacier.
- Wilcox Pass (2-7 mile Hike)- You can get to fantastic views over Athabasca Glacier.
- Athabasca Glacier/Icefield Discovery Centre
- Beauty Creek (2 mile Hike)- My favorite hike!! Takes you to Stanley Falls.
- Tangle Creek Falls
- Sunwapta Falls
- Athabasca Falls
- Goats and Glacier Lookout
Day 6: Jasper National Park & Maligne Lake
Spend a day exploring Jasper National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country. You can start your day grabbing food in Jasper, visiting Pyramid Lake (just 10 minutes from Jasper town), or head into the park right away to beat the crowds.
Best Restaurants in Jasper
- Sunhouse Cafe
- Raven Bistro
- Snowdome Coffee
- Jasper Brewery
Spirit Island Tour
If I can recommend that you do one thing in Jasper National Park, then it should be this!
The Spirit Island Tour was one of my favorite things that I have ever done. You’ll cruise through one of the prettiest lakes surrounded by mountains on all sides and then make it to one of the most beautiful spots in the world. It was a magical experience and I hope that you will add it to your itinerary.
This tour leaves from the Maligne Lake Boathouse 🚤, travels for half an hour through the bright blue water as the tour guide tells you about the area, and eventually docks by Spirit Island. Because this land is sacred, you don’t actually land on the island. You then get 15 minutes to walk around and take photos of the magical Spirit Island.
You can choose from the regular 90 minute tour, which starts at $70 a person, or do the extended two hour tour which begins at $115. Prices vary based on the day and the popularity of the tour. But, it’s worth the ticket price 🎟!
After you’ve gotten off the Spirit Island Tour drive about 40 minutes to the iconic Maligne Canyon. You can either choose to walk down to the closest bridges for great views over the canyon or hike the 2 mile loop through the forest and along all of the various bridges.
If you’re short on time, then walking to the first couple bridges does provide sufficient views. We did the longer hike and honestly we thought the part through the woods 🌳 was a bit boring. Next time, I would just walk all the way down the water along the bridges and back.
Day 7: Valley of the 5 Lakes & Miette Hot Springs
Ready for a day of swimming? Well, if you visit in the summer then you can go from taking a cool dip to soaking in a hot spring ♨️. This day will bring you to numerous beautiful bodies of water. It’s a fantastic way to end your Banff & Jasper itinerary.
Valley of the 5 Lakes
Go on one of my favorite hikes that I’ve ever done! I loved 💕 this hike so much that I did it two days in a row.
This trail takes you to 5 lakes in just three miles (round trip) and it’s an incredibly family friendly hike! Each lake is its own distinct color, but each of them is a vibrant shade of green/blue. On a nice day, you can pack a picnic 🧺, a bathing suit, and spend the day relaxing by the lakes.
Drive 10 minutes from Jasper back down the Icefields Parkway. There, you’ll find the large parking area for the trail.
Quick Hike Info:
Length: 3 miles
Elevation: 500 feet
Time: 1.5-3 hours (or more if you want to hang at a lake!)
Miette Hot Springs
Travel an hour from Jasper to get to Miette Hot Springs. This is one of the 🌟 best hot springs in Canada and somewhere you should go if you have the time! Sadly, we didn’t get to go because it was temporarily closed on our visit.
You’ll find the hottest hot springs in all of Canada in a very large pool area. On the way, there is plenty of stunning scenery and once you arrive you’ll be surrounded by the mountains. It’s a wonderfully peaceful setting for a nice hot dip 👙. Adult entry to the pool is $16.50 CAD.
A hot springs visit is the perfect way to end your trip to the Canadian Rockies. From there, you can travel back home.
Final Tips for your Banff & Jasper Trip
Banff & Jasper are two of the prettiest places 🥰 that you will ever visit. So, it’s no wonder that these locations are getting more and more popular. The lakes in these areas are vibrant blue and the mountainous trails are incredibly epic.
My biggest advice for your visit is to plan early and book things ahead of time. Prices are high in these areas, so you can save money by booking early or visiting during the off-season. If you have more time in the area, then I highly recommend visiting Canmore, Kananaskis Country, or Golden BC. There’s so much to explore that you could spend weeks doing it all!
Let me know if you enjoyed this itinerary in the comments!
📍 Pin Banff & Jasper Itinerary: The Perfect Week to Pinterest