Best views in Banff National Park? That is a tough question to answer. For this Rocky Mountain admirer, every view is the ‘best’, no matter the location. The magic of the mountains is everywhere whether it be next to a turquoise-blue lake, up in the wide open alpine or driving along scenic highways and by-ways. Any type of mountain vista is gorgeous, full stop.
To help simplify, here is a list of the 5 Best Views In Banff National Park.
- Morant’s Curve
- Peyto Lake: Icefield Parkway
- Banff Townsite from Mount Norquay
- Sunshine Meadows and Gondola
- Best Places To See Wildlife in Banff
1. Morant’s Curve:
Moments from Lake Louise, the Bow Valley Parkway curves gently to the right. That particular curve, named for a particular CP Rail photographer, is known as Morant’s Curve. Sweeping beyond this road-side stop is a stunning view of the Bow River and valley. Whatever the season or weather condition, the panoramic view of clean running water, verdant forested slopes and glacier-clad peaks is simply iconic. Add in a colourful train, and you have the makings of a self-made postcard!
Morant’s Curve is closer to the northern end of the Bow Valley Parkway. From Lake Louise, drive towards the ski hill, turning right onto the Bow Valley Parkway. From Banff, drive west along the TransCanada Highway for approximately 5 kilometres. Take the Bow Valley Parkway/1A exit off to the right. Morant’s Curve will be approximately 45 kilometres north.
2. Peyto Lake: Icefield Parkway
North of Banff and Lake Louise, on the Icefields Parkway, is one of the most photographed lakes in the Rockies: Peyto Lake. A 10-minute stroll up (and, I do mean ‘up’) the pathway from the parking lot rewards visitors with stunning views of a spectacularly blue glacial-fed lake. From the sturdy viewing platform, high above the lake’s shoreline, look for the outline of a wolf’s head!
From Lake Louise, drive north on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) towards Jasper. In approximately 30 minutes, look for signs for Bow Summit and Peyto Lake. Turn left off the Parkway into the large parking area. In the far-right corner of the parking lot, a trail leads up towards the viewing platform.
3. Banff Townsite from Mount Norquay
The best views in Banff National Park involve gazing down upon the picturesque townsite of Banff. To get to this lofty venue, drive the switch-backed road up towards Mount Norquay Ski Hill. When almost at the top, look for a lovely stone wall on the right. Park your car and walk out onto the spacious green meadow. The spectacular setting for which the town of Banff is famous is there for all to see. With the slanted western slope of Mount Rundle beyond, and the placid waters of Vermilion Lakes in the foreground, this is yet another self-made postcard stop. Keep an eye out for Columbia ground squirrels and a roaming herd of Rocky Mountain sheep. Carry on up the road to the Norquay Gondola and ride even higher up the mountain. The grass-covered ski runs are a great place to look for both black and grizzly bears. From the TransCanada Highway, take the Mount Norquay Access Road exit and start driving up the road!
4. Sunshine Meadows and Gondola
Take in stunning 360-degree alpine views … without even breaking a sweat! Sunshine Village offers THE best, and most accessible, mountain scenery imaginable. The sweeping panoramic views of alpine meadows and far off peaks are simply stunning. And then there are the wildflowers! Fields upon fields of wildflowers, rolling off into the distance, as far as the eye can see. Well established trails invite happy wanderers to explore the landscape and breathe in the views.
From Banff, drive approximately 8km west on TransCanada Highway 1. Take the Sunshine Road exit and drive another 8km to the gondola base and parking lot at the end of the road.
5. Best Places To See Wildlife in Banff
Best views in Banff can sometimes involve great wildlife viewing, too! Three roadways within Banff National Park offer great views and the potential for spotting some form of wildlife: Bow Valley Parkway, Icefields Parkway and the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Loop. Please remember, if stopping to view wildlife, respect the animal and stay in your vehicle. This is for the animal’s safety and your own.
The Bow Valley Parkway (or, Highway 1A) provides a much more relaxing journey between Banff and Lake Louise than Highway 1. It is the original TransCanada Highway and is one of the best places to see wildlife in Banff. The slower speed limit allows for the chance to spot big horn sheep, elk and maybe even a moose or bear.
Icefields Parkway (or, Highway 93),runs 230-km between Lake Louise and Jasper. Throughout this incredibly scenic corridor, keep your eyes open for any form of wildlife, including squirrels, deer, bears and wolves.
Take an early morning or evening drive along the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Loop, close to the town of Banff. Big Horn Sheep wander at will, as do White-tailed Deer and Columbia ground squirrels. Wild Water Adventures invites our guests, either before or after your whitewater adventure, to take a step back and enjoy the Rocky Mountain views. You’ll be glad you did!
Author: Deborah Wade