This itinerary is perfect for nature lovers who want to discover the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. This road trip will take you through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, including stops at the famed Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, as well as Spirit Island. It also provides enough time to explore Calgary. All of this in less than a week! You are sure to be fascinated by the deep blue lakes, the mountaintops covered by eternal snow, and if lucky, the majestic wildlife.
To explore these vast national parks in only 6 days, a couple long stretches of driving are required, but well worth it! Nonetheless, this itinerary can easily be adapted to your liking, so make sure to read the tips at the end of each day! These national parks have so much more to offer for those who desire to extend their stay. On the flip side, it is also possible to shorten your trip and see the main highlights of Banff in as little as three days – see our Banff National ParkWeekend Getaway.
Day 1: Banff National Park
130km/80mi – 1h25
On the first day of this itinerary, drive from Calgary to Banff National Park. Take it easy by visiting Banff village and some nearby attractions. It is recommended to land in Calgary the day before and stay there overnight to get an early start on Day 1. We recommend staying near the airport at Hotel Clique.
- Stretch your legs after the drive by exploring the charming Banff Village.
- Discover your first lake of the trip: Lake Minnewanka, and do the short 40min hike to Stewart Canyon.
- Ride the Banff Gondola up to Mount Sulphur. Once at the top, follow the boardwalk to reach the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station.
- Have lunch in Banff Village and/or indulge in a snack at BeaverTails — a must try in Canada. We recommend the Chocolate and Banana BeaverTail.
- We enjoyed dinner at Sky Bistro, on top of Mount Sulphur. Make sure to try the Bison Tartare.
- We recommend staying in Banff Village for the first two nights of this itinerary. We stayed at the Brewster Mountain Lodge.
- Purchase your Park Pass in advance (here) to avoid potentially long lines at the Banff National Park entrance. The Pass is valid for both Banff and Jasper National Park.
- It might be cheaper to pick up your rental car in downtown Calgary instead of the airport.
- Many accommodations tend to sell out quickly, driving up the prices in the area – book early.
- Bison and elk meat are specialties in the area, make sure to try them!
Go to the next page to see the following day of this itinerary. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or want to share your recommendations with our fellow readers!