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Ultimate 7 Day Itinerary For Banff and Jasper For A Magical Time

Now that the Canadian state borders have eased for fully vaccinated travelers, have you been thinking of a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains? This ultimate 7 days itinerary for Banff and Jasper starts and ends in Calgary and is a guide for your trip to Banff and Jasper.

The Canadian Rockies consists of the Alberta Rockies and the British Columbia Rockies are a part of the larger North American Rocky Mountains. The heart of the Canadian Rockies is in Banff, Alberta.

Some key highlights of this itinerary are:

  • Moraine Lake
  • Bow Lake
  • Sunwapta Falls
  • Icefields Parkway
  • Athabasca Falls
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Wonderland Sculpture
  • Calgary Tower

We explore the 7-day itinerary in detail below. All set? Let’s dive in!

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How many days do you need in Banff and Jasper?

Ideally, you would need at least 3 days in Banff and 3 days in Jasper. This trip would just cover the essentials as given in this 7 days Itinerary for Banff and Jasper. 

Banff does not have its airport and the closest airport would be the Calgary International Airport. You would need to factor in an easy driving time of fewer than two hours with a distance of about 93 miles.

There is a Car Rental Centre located at the Departure Level of Calgary International Airport. The car rental agencies found here are Avis, Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, and Enterprise

Day 1: Arrive in Calgary and drive to Banff 

We start Day 1 of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper by arriving in Calgary. Calgary is the third most populous city after Toronto and Montreal and the most populous city in Western Canada.

The city is at the confluence of Bow River and Elbow River and is consistently ranked within the top 5 of the most livable city in North America.  

How do I get from Calgary to Banff?

There are several options to get to Banff which are:


If you are driving, there are two routes you can consider. The fastest route would be to take the Trans-Canada Highway 1 which is approximately 90 miles to downtown Banff. 

If you prefer the scenic route, take the Exit at Cochrane and take Highway 1A from Cochrane and re-enter the Trans-Canada Highway at Canmore and onto Banff. This route is longer by an extra 30 minutes, and the views are worth it.


Several buses ply the Calgary to Banff route. The first would be the Banff Airporter which is an all-year-round bus service that starts at $68.99 ($54.22) for adults, $62.09 ($48.80) for seniors above 65 years, and $34.49 ($27.10) for children aged 6 to 17 years for a one-way trip.

The second bus option is the Brewster Express which is the largest tour group operator and bus service in the Canadian Rockies. Their one-way fares from Calgary to Banff are $72 ($57) for adults and $36 ($29) for children. 


There are plenty of taxis available to take you to Banff. The minimum rates can start at $250 ($196) per trip, one way. 

Can you Uber from Calgary to Banff? 

Yes, you can get an Uber from Calgary to Banff. However, the rates can vary from $140 ($110) to $400 ($315) per trip. Their rates are not fixed and may surge during peak travel season and driving conditions.

Another option is Pop A Ride which is a ride-sharing option that gives you the flexibility to choose your driver based on your luggage requirements. Unlike Uber, the rates are charged per seat and are as low as $15 ($11). 

Explore Banff Avenue

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Banff Avenue

The first of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is to explore Banff Avenue. As this is our first day, we spent the day relaxing. The town of Banff is the first city within Banff National Park and is Canada’s most popular tourist town. 

Banff is at the confluence of Bow River and Spray River. Banff has 4 majestic mountains on either of its side. These are Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and the Cascade Mountain ranges. 

Fun Facts

1. The city hosted the 1991 Winter Deaflympics where deaf olympiads compete at an international level.

2. Banff is the starting point for the 2,744 miles Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Race which ends at Antelope Wells, New Mexico, United States.

3. Banff National Park has more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails and its mountains are between 45 to 120 million years old.

4. The water from Bow River ends at Hudson Bay.

5. The Castleguard Caves are the longest underground cave system in Canada.

Read the Top 12 Fun Facts About the Canadian Rockies to know more.

What is the best time to visit Banff?

There are two best times to visit Banff which are during the summer months of June to August and the winter months of December to March. Banff has a subarctic climate which means winters are cold and snowy while summers have warm and mild temperatures. 

Read The Best Time to Visit Banff National Park and Pristine Powder and Fields of Flowers: A Seasonal Guide to Banff and Jasper to know more.

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

To save time and money, it is best to book the Parks Canada Discovery Pass which gives you access to over 80 parks in Canada that includes Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.

The rates are $139.40 ($110.20) for a group of seven traveling in a single vehicle, $69.19 ($54.70) for adults, and $59.17 ($46.78) for senior citizens aged 65 years and above. 

Day 2: Lakes of Banff

On Day 2 of our 7 day Itinerary for Banff and Jasper, we explore Banff National Park and end the day with a gondola ride on Sulphur Mountain.

Moraine Lake

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Moraine Lake

The second of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is to catch the sunrise at Moraine Lake. This lake is at the Valley of the Ten Peaks at the Banff National Park. Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake that was once featured on the login screen of Windows 10. 

Is the road to Moraine Lake open?

The road is closed in winter due to the risk of avalanches. The road opens in mid-June till mid-October, although the dates may vary. Check for seasonal closures and restrictions before making your way there.

Is Moraine Lake free?

While entry to the lake is free, visitors have to pay an entrance fee to enter Banff National Park. The daily fees are $10 ($7.90) for adults, $8.40 ($7) for senior citizens, and a family fee is $20 ($16) for a group of seven persons arriving in a single-vehicle.

What time should I go to Moraine Lake?

The best time to go to Moraine Lake is before sunrise which is around 5 to 5.30 am. Parking fills up quickly as there are only 150 spots available. Another option would be to park your vehicle at the Park and Ride and take the Canada Parks Shuttle Service to Moraine Lake.

The cost for the shuttle service is $8 ($6.30) for adults, $4 ($3) for seniors, and $2 ($1.60) for youth. Children below the age of 6 years ride for free. 

Why is Moraine Lake so blue?

The color blue comes from fine dust particles that are produced when massive glaciers rubbed against the bedrock. The particles remain suspended on water that resulting in the turquoise color that Moraine Lake is famous for.

Read ‘Briliant Blues’ of Mountain Lake Changes as Glacier Shrinks and This Turquoise Lake You Have To See It At Least Once to know more. 

Lake Louise

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff National Park

The third of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is Lake Louise. The lake was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta who was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. She was married to the Marquess of Lorne who was the Governor-General of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

There are several hiking trails, horseback trails, and mountain bike trails that exist around the lake. Due to its popularity, Lake Louise is often crowded and the area is plagued by traffic jams.

What is the best time of the year to visit Lake Louise?

The best time of the year to visit Lake Louise is before 9 am to avoid the crowd. There is mandatory paid parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore that has extremely limited parking spots. It would be best to park at the Park and Ride and take the shuttle service.

The cost for the shuttle service is $8 ($6.30) for adults, $4 ($3) for seniors, and $2 ($1.60) for youth. Children below the age of 6 years ride for free. 

Is parking free at Lake Louise?

There is a mandatory paid parking of $11.70 ($9.25) per vehicle per day. 

What is the best place to stay at Lake Louise?

There are several options when it comes to the best places to stay at Lake Louise. You have a variety of accommodation to choose from, be it luxury or budget.

Our choice for luxury is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The hotel has breathtaking views of Lake Louise amidst the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In-house facilities include an aquatic indoor pool, and fitness and wellness classes. Click Booking.com and Agoda.com to know their rates.

In the mid-range category, our choice is Paradise Lodge & Bungalows. This hotel is an easy 500-meter walk to Lake Louise and is an option for those who prefer quiet and relaxing retreats. Some rooms come with balconies and kitchenettes. Click Booking.com and Agoda.com to know their rates.

In the budget category, our choice is the Lake Louise Inn. All rooms in this hotel come with a balcony and fireplace. Free shuttle service is provided to those who want to go to the Lake Louise Ski Resort that is 2.1 miles away. Click Booking.com and Agoda.com to know their rates.

Sulphur Mountain Gondola Ride

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Sulphur Mountain Gondala Ride

The fourth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is the Gondola Ride at Sulphur Mountain. This mountain overlooks the town of Banff, valleys, and lakes that surround this mountain. 

The gondola is open throughout the year and operates daily from 11 am to 9 pm. You can book the tickets online to avoid long queues. 

Is Banff Gondola a free ride down?

Yes, there are free rides down during the winter months, and after 7 pm during the summer months. 

How long is the Banff gondola ride?

The ride takes about 8 minutes one way on a 1-mile track. 

Day 3: Drive to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway

On Day 3 of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper, we head to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway.

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Icefields Parkway

The sixth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is driving to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. This highway is north of the Trans-Canada Highway and is also known as Alberta Highway 93.

The Icefields Parkway is a scenic 230-kilometer long highway that transverses the Canadian Rockies and travels through Banff National Park to Jasper National Park. This route runs parallel to the Continental Divide of the Americas. 

The driving time from Banff to Jasper would take approximately 4 hours if you are not stopping anywhere. It could take longer if there are several stops on the way.

Is it safe to drive from Banff to Jasper?

Yes, the road the safe to drive. Some of the common animals you can sight are the bighorn sheep, mountain goats, coyotes, and deer. The Icefields also run through the heart of the winter caribou habitat. Keep our wildlife safe and drive within the speed limit at all times.

If you are driving during winter, snow tires are mandatory and an extra windshield wiper fluid is essential as car services are not available during the winter months. Driving conditions are challenging as the weather can change quickly. 

Do you need a park pass for the Icefields Parkway?

Yes, you would need a valid national park pass to drive on the Icefields Parkway. If you have a single-day pass, please ensure its validity before driving. 

Where do you stop on the Icefields Parkway?

Some of the stops you can consider are the Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, and Sunwapta Falls. These stops are on the Icefields Parkway

Crowfoot Glacier

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Crowfoot Glacier

The seventh of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper and our first stop on Icefields Parkway is Crowfoot Glacier. This glacier can be viewed from the Icefields Parkway and is located within Banff National Park. 

The glacier was named because it resembled a crow’s foot. Although the glacier has retreated since the Little Ice Age, the glacier is still beautiful and makes for a memorable stop on the Icefields Parkway. Look out for the Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint.

Bow Lake

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Bow Lake

The eighth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper and our second stop on Icefields Parkway is Bow Lake. This lake is at an altitude of 1,920 meters and lies south of Bow Summit. This lake is an easy 20-minutes walk from the Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint

Can you swim at Bow Lake?

As Bow Lake is a glacial-fed lake, the water would be too cold for swimming. There are no lifeguards here, which means yo would be swimming at your own risk.

Sunwapta Falls

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Sunwapta Falls

The ninth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper and our last stop on the Icefield Parkway is Sunwapta Falls. The falls are about 87 miles from Bow Lake with a traveling time of 1.5 hours. 

The name Sunwapta is from the Stoney language that means turbulent water. The best time to visit the falls is in late spring when the spring melt is at its peak as the waters here come from the Athabasca Glacier. 

How long of a hike is Sunwapta Falls?

To get to the falls, turn right at the Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge exit. To hike to the waterfalls, hike down to the viewing bridge over the canyon for spectacular views of the falls. The best view is at the edge of the canyon rim that is below the viewing bridge.

For the adventurous, you can hike the Lower Sunwapta Falls Hike that is a 3.2 kilometer heavily tracked route that offers beautiful views of the forest, waterfall, and the horseshoe-shaped river.

Day 4:  Explore Jasper

On Day 4 of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper, we explore Jasper. The journey to Jasper from Sunwapta Falls takes an hour and covers a distance of 38 miles. On this day, we explore three main sights within Jasper National Park. 

Spirit Island on Maligne Lake

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Spirit Island on Maligne Lake

The tenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is Spirit Island on Maligne Lake. Maligne Lake is about 45 minutes from Jasper. Spirit Island is an island that sits near a lakeshore on Maligne Lake and is only accessible via a 90-minute scenic cruise tour

Why is it Spirit Island?

The island is named Spirit Island follows the story of Romeo and Juliet. According to the Stoney Nakoda First Nations mythology, there were once lovers from warring tribes who used to meet secretly at the island.

When the girl confessed her love to her father, he banned her from going to the island. The young heartbroken man continued to visit the island, hoping to meet his lover. She never returned while he eventually died on the island. It is his spirit that is wandering there for eternity.

Do you need a park pass for Maligne Lake?

Maligne Lake is within Jasper National Park and with that, you MUST HAVE a valid park pass to visit the lake and Spirit Island. A daily pass is $10 ($7.95) for adults, $8.40 ($6.66) for seniors, and $20 ($15.88) for families or groups of seven traveling in a single vehicle. 

Maligne Canyon

maligne canyon

The eleventh of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is Maligne Canyon. This canyon is a 30-minute drive from Maligne Lake and is known as the deepest canyon at Jasper National Park.

Is Maligne Canyon free?

Yes, the entrance to the canyon is free. However, you would need to pay for the park entrance before you can access Maligne Canyon. 

How many bridges does Maligne Canyon have?

There are six bridges with varied views of the canyon. There is a gentle hike at the First and Second Bridges with the Second Bridge having the best views of the waterfalls. The Second Bridge is 50 meters above the water.

For avid hikers and spectacular sights, you would need to continue to the Sixth Bridge. Grizzly bears are often spotted near and around the Sixth Bridge and are best to carry a bear spray at all times. 

How long is the hike at Maligne Canyon?

The Maligne Canyon Loop Trail hike is a 4.3 kilometer heavily trafficked trail that is suitable for all levels. The trail is best explored from April to October and can take between 1-2 hours one way, depending on your fitness level.

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls

The twelfth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is the Athabasca Falls. These falls are about a 35-minute drive from Maligne Canyon and can be viewed from viewing platforms and walking trails around the falls.

The stunning mountain at the back is Mount Kerkeslin. At 9,698 feet, the mountain is the highest on the Maligne Mountain Range. 

Do you have to pay to go to Athabasca Falls?

There is no specific entrance fee to the falls. You would need to pay to enter Jasper National Park using your Canada Parks Pass. The viewing platforms are accessible all year round.

How long does it take to hike to Athabasca Falls?

The Athabasca Falls Trail hike is a 1-kilometer heavily trafficked route with several lookout points. The paved pathway is best explored in the morning during the summer months before the busloads of tourists arrive.

Day 5: Lakes of Jasper

On Day 5 of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper, we explore the lakes of Jasper. In particular, we visit Medicine Lake, Patricia Lake, and Lake Minnewanka. Read The Best Lakes To Visit In Jasper, Canada to know more. 

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park

The thirteenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is Medicine Lake. This lake is about 12 miles southeast of Jasper and is a geologic anomaly rather than a lake. There is abundant wildlife such as grizzly bears, mountain sheep, caribou, and moose which is surprising as this is a high-altitude lake.

Why is Medicine Lake disappearing?

During the summer months, the fills up with glacial water and the lake is thriving with rainbow trout and brook trout. However, during the winter months, the lake disappears and the area becomes a mudflat. 

The best method to describe the disappearance of the lake would be the bathtub analogy. There is a massive underground cave system located below the lake, which fills up the lake. 

Imagine in a bathtub, we use a plug to fill the water, when we drain the water, we simply unplug. In winter, the water from this lake simply “unplugs” and disappears to the cave systems below it at a rate of 4,000 gallons every second. That’s approximately 24,000 liters down the drain.

Patricia Lake

Patricia Lake

The fourteenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is Patricia Lake. This lake is a 32-minute drive from Medicine Lake. The lake was named after Princess Patricia of Connaught, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. 

The mountain you see behind the lake is Pyramid Mountains. The Patricia Lake Circle Trail is a 4.8 kilometer moderately tracked trail that has gorgeous views of the lake. The trail is suited for all levels of hikers and bird watchers. The best time to use the trail is from May to September.

Can you swim in Patricia Lake Jasper?

Yes, you can swim at Patricia Lake. You can stay at Patricia Lake Bungalows which is near the lake’s southern shore. The bungalow has a private beach area, free WiFi, and is 3.8 miles from the Jasper SkyTram

𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐈𝐬 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐅𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

Patricia Lake was the base for the Patricia Lake Project that was code-named Operation Habbakuk. The goal was to build an unsinkable aircraft carrier. The main material used is pykrete. Pykrete is an ice alloy that consists of 14% sawdust and 86% ice.

A prototype vessel was built on the lake using ice that was partly natural and part refrigerated. The model vessel was a success in that it floated on the lake. The project was a failure as it was deemed impractical for such a vessel to be used for military purposes. The archaeological remains of the vessel are at the southern shore of Lake Patricia and are in excellent condition. 

Read ‘Stranger Than Fiction’: Book Chronicles Secret Mission To Carve Warships From Ice and Operation Habbakuk: A World War II Vessel Prototype to know more.   

Cavell Lake

Cavell Lake, Mount Edith Cavell

The fifteenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is and the last day of our itinerary is Cavell Lake. This lake is roughly a 46-minute drive from Patricia Lake. The majestic mountain you see behind the lake is Mount Edith Cavell.

The mountain stands at an impressive height of 3,363 meters which makes it Alberta’s most prominent mountain. The trails here are accessible with paved paths and spectacular views.

Where is Cavell Lake?

To get to Cavell Lake, you would need to drive south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Once you have passed the Jasper Highway Toll, continue south for another 500 meters. Continue straight for about 3.2 miles and then turn right towards Highway 93A.

After that, continue straight for another 8 miles on Edith Cavell Road. You have reached the lake once you arrive at a parking lot. There is a short and easy walk on the gravel path to the lake. 

𝐖𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐄𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐂𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐥?

Edith Louisa Cavell was a British nurse who saved the lives of soldiers on both sides of World War I. She is credited with helping rescue 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.

She was accused of treason and was sentenced to death by a firing squad. Her last words were “𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐦 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡, 𝐈 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐧𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐫 𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞”.


Day 6: Explore Calgary

Calgary Tower

itinerary for Banff and Jasper, Calgary Tower

The sixteenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is Calgary Tower. This tower stands at 636 feet and was originally known as Husky Tower. Calgary Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in Calgary.

This tower has 360-degree views gives you views of the Rocky Mountains on its western side, prairies on its eastern side, and a panoramic view of Calgary city.

Is Calgary Tower free?

Np, Calgary Tower is not free to enter. An entrance fee of $18 ($15) is charged for adults, $16 ($13) for seniors, and $9 ($8) for children. The opening hours are from 12 pm to 9 pm on Mondays to Fridays. The opening hours on weekends are from 10 am to 9 pm

How long does it take to climb Calgary Tower?

The staircases of the 802 steps to the top of Calgary Tower are usually closed to the public. However, once a year, Calgary Tower opens these stairs for the 802 Challenge where fitness enthusiasts and runners run to the top of the tower within the shortest time possible.

Where did Calgary get its name?

There are several variations as to how this name came about. The name could have come from kald and gart which are Old Norse words that mean “cold” and “garden”. Alternatively, it could come from Cala ghearraidh that means “clear running water” or “beach of the meadow”.

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge Calgary

The seventeenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is the Peace Bridge. This bridge was built for people to walk and cycle across the Bow River. Interestingly, the bridge was designed with several requirements.

These requirements are that the bridge can withstand Calgary’s one-in-year-100 year flood cycle, has a minimum 75-years lifespan, allow barrier-free access to people of all mobility types, and provides comfort and security with proper lighting.

Wonderland Sculpture

Wonderland Sculpture Calgary, Jaume Plensa

The eighteenth of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper and last sightseeing is the Wonderland Structure. This 12-meter head of a young girl is turning heads in downtown Calgary. 

The unique feature of this sculpture is that it has an entrance where visitors can walk through it to experience what it looks like from the inside. The sculpture was created by Jaume Plensa. He is a Spanish artist who has erected public sculptures in London, Dubai, New York, and Brazil.

Day 7: Shopping in Calgary

The last of our 7 day itinerary for Banff and Jasper is shopping. One of the popular shopping areas in Calgary is Downtown Calgary which has about 3,000 small businesses within a 120-acre block.

The next area is the “living room of the community”. This is Fouth Street, located at Mission District. Calgary’s retail and entertainment area is at 17th Avenue. If you are looking for a vibrant neighborhood with hip stores and cafes, head to Kensington

Is Calgary good for shopping?

Calgary has a varied range of shopping for everyone. With large shopping malls such as Nordstrom Chinook Centre and Crossroads Market, it’s all here in Calgary.

Why Do Tourists Visit Banff and Jasper?

The Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are two of the most stunning parks in Canada and are worth a visit. These two are also cities in contrast. Banff is bustling with crowds while Jasper has laid-back vibes and sees lesser tourists.

Read the 12 Reasons To Visit Jasper Over Banff in Canada and Canada’s Banff May Be Beautiful, But Jasper is Bigger and Better to know more.

Is the Canadian Rockies road trip worth it?

Yes! With beautiful mountains, prairies, and waterfalls, a trip here would seem to be out of this world. Read the Top 12 Fun Facts About The Canadian Rockies and the Top 5 Scenic Road Trips In The Rocky Mountains to know more.


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