10 Summer Road Trips to Do From Banff National Park

10 min read by Elouise Antonina.

Banff is a famed North American tourist hub, laden with young Aussie visitors. Here, to live their working-holiday dream of partying and snowboarding. But it’s not all about powder: Canadian summers bring a unique experience to this postcard-famous destination.

With an overwhelming amount of travellers filling up Banff avenue, it’s the perfect time to escape into the wilderness. To find the hidden gems which make this land one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The Twin Lake on the trail.

Sunshine Village.

The wildflowers are beautiful at Sunshine Village in the summertime.

Sunshine Village is an excellent getaway in the summer, as for some reason, the everyday tourist is unaware that you can access the resort in the warmer months.

There, you will be greeted by those in the know, and passionate about the alpine life. Amongst lakes beyond, visible from the chairlifts, you can walk further than you could ski in the winter months.

Hiking gives an entirely new feel to this ski resort. A large variety of wild animals is out of hibernation, including the local Sunshine Village bear.

If you’re lucky, you’ll even see a moose. 

A view of all three lakes on the Sunshine Meadows trail.

Johnson Lake.

Just a ten-minute drive from Banff, you’ll find yourself in a magical oasis with a glistening lake full of people enjoying the water with stand up paddleboarding, canoeing, and blow-up water beds. Here, you’ll soak up that warm summer sun, knowing it won’t be long before the snow returns, and you’ll be strapping on your snowboard boots.

An afternoon at Johnson Lake.
The serenity of Johnson Lake.

Grassi Lakes.

About twenty minutes drive from Banff, and only a few minutes away from downtown Canmore, hide two small lakes — with the water as green as Mountain Dew, the drink.

Beyond the parking lot, the lakes are a thirty-minute hike up a steep hill, which could be challenging if there’s snow about.

Finding them is like crossing into your very own Narnia. Immerse in this newfound world of yours — you won’t want to leave. 

Finding Narnia at Grassi Lakes.
The thirty-minute walk up to Grassi Lakes.

Mount Bourgeou.

One of the lesser-known hikes, yet one of the closest ones to downtown Banff, is the Mount Bourgeou scramble. It takes about ten minutes to drive to the trailhead.

One of the two lakes at the top of the trail.

Once you start hiking, it may appear as if you aren’t going anywhere with the endless switchbacks, hidden amongst the trees. But eventually, past the tree line, it’ll begin to feel as if you’re walking amongst the clouds.

At the first stop near the top of the mountain, there are two small, gorgeous lakes. In exhaustion, it may be tempting to end the hike right here. But with the challenging yet rewarding scramble, you can push all the way to the very top. There, while thick with wind, the vista is the entire Goats Eye mountain and the Sunshine Village ski resort.

If you’re a ski bum like myself, you’ll be over the moon to see the resort from such a new, breathtaking perspective. 

The peak of Mount Bourgeou, where you will see Goats Eye and Sunshine Village.

Fernie.

Taking in the glorious view after a hard hike, on top of Mount Bourgeou.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful drives you’ll ever do is the four-hour road trip between Banff National Park and Fernie.

After the aforesaid lengthy summer ride, there’s no better place to rest than the Silver Spring Lake. There’s something here for everyone.

Cool off by the water, relax on the rocks, soak in the view.

Or, take the chance and go cliff jumping. Most mountain life aficionados I know pick the latter.

Or, take a hike to Spineback Ridge, where you’ll get to walk along a narrow mountain backbone. Here, it’ll feel like you’re on the top of the world.

Silver Springs lake.
Cliff jumping at Silver Springs lake.
Spineback Ridge, Fernie.
Spineback Ridge, Fernie.

Bow River, Banff.

This place is at the doorstep of downtown Banff. Take a five-minute walk and find an escape from the chaos that is the town in the summertime.

If you’ve got a spare afternoon, stroll down to the Bow River, sit and watch the animals for hours on end. Like Snow White, walking through the forest. You may even make friends with a deer or two.

A twenty-minute walk further is the Surprise Point Lookout with a stunning view of the Banff Fairmont Hotel. If the deer didn’t make you feel as if you were in a fairytale, this vista will.

Relaxing by the Bow River, Banff.

Moraine Lake.

If you’ve ever seen a Canadian postcard with an insanely-bright blue lake, chances are you were looking at Moraine Lake.

The best time of day to visit this place is during the sunrise. Miss the crowds of tourists, take in the beauty. An easy five-kilometre hike on the Consolation Lakes trail, through a magical forest, only to be greeted by another, hidden lake in a valley of rocks.

As if you stepped back in time 66 million years, into the age of the dinosaur.

The forest on the Consolation Lakes trail, at Moraine Lake.

Whistler Ski Resort.

In the summertime, this famous ski resort transforms into a land of warm-weather adventures. Mountain biking, hiking, and rafting. Catch the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, from Whistler mountain to Blackcomb mountain with a 360-degree view of the beautiful world of the Whistler Village.

The Gondola has a glass floor. It’s best to beware if you’re scared of heights. The ride holds the world record for the longest line between two towers. In the air, for 4.5 kilometres, surrounded by the incredible views beneath.

Hidden lakes among the peak of Blackcomb Mountain.
Take a good book and pack some lunch for the best views of your life.
Even during the summer months, Whistler is abundant with snow.

Twin Lakes.

Just a two-hour drive from Banff, Alberta will end where British Columbia begins. Nestled among the mountains and the forest, there are two incredibly beautiful lakes. There, you may take a refreshing dip. You are likely to have the place all to yourself. A hidden gem.

A secret lake, all to yourself.

Icefields Parkway Jasper.

From Banff to Jasper, through the Icefields Parkway, the road is hugged by beautiful mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and glaciers. The first time I did this drive, I saw my first bear in Canada with three baby cubs. That was something else!

A drive for which you won’t want to forget your camera. Though photographs can hardly capture the true beauty of this unforgettable experience.

Stop, get out of the car, and enjoy the view on this magnificent drive.
Bighorn sheep, near Jasper.
Friends, enjoying the most incredible drive of their lives.