Whether you're visiting Banff National Park for a day trip or even a few nights, thorough planning is a must.

We have entered the peak season for the iconic national park that saw a record 4.3 million visitors last season from Apr. 1, 2023 to Mar. 31, 2024. Park officials are expecting to see similar numbers this year, weather and wildfire season permitting, says Daniella Rubeling, visitor experience manager.

She says they've been shouting from rooftops for years asking people to plan ahead, and that with numbers like these, it's more important than ever. 

"We know for many, visiting Banff National Park is either a bucket list experience or sometimes a place where they're bringing their guests from outside of Canada. Even for those coming from Cochrane, Calgary and Airdrie, it's a special place to visit and we want to make sure people have a great time. They really need to make those reservations and have them in hand for transit, shuttles and key attractions, where available. It's essential to having that great experience."

To visit places like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, you need to reserve your shuttle in advance. The parking lots of day-use areas are often full by 10:30 a.m. if not sooner, depending upon the day and the weather.

She recommends arriving early, park once, then use the transportation links available to travel to your destinations. 

The following tips, details and links are provided for visitors.

Plan ahead to avoid disappointment

Enhance your visit

  • Visitors are encouraged to leave their vehicle at home take On-It Regional Transit from Calgary to Banff.
  • Visitors to the Town of Banff should park their cars once upon arrival either at their accommodation (hotel, campsite, etc.) or in one of the parking lots available within the townsite.  
  • Visitors to the Lake Louise area should book a shuttle in advance and park their cars at the Park & Ride or at their accommodation. Short-term parking is available in the community of Lake Louise for patrons of village businesses and the Lake Louise Visitor Centre. There is no shuttle access to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake from the community.
  • Taking Roam Public Transit, Parks Canada shuttles, commercial transportation operators, or private shuttles is the best way to experience the national park. Explore key locations in Banff National Park like Sulphur Mountain, Banff Upper Hot Springs, Lake Minnewanka, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. Ensure to book your seat on Roam Transit or Parks Canada shuttles before you leave home.
  • Check AB 511 for real-time traffic and road conditions including live camera feeds in the Town of Banff.

Respect the Park

  • Leave no trace by ensuring all garbage is properly disposed of or stowed away in vehicles and picnic areas are kept free from wildlife attractants. Take all garbage with you if the designated bins are full.
  • Park in designated parking areas only at trail heads, day-use areas and at key attractions. Parking on roadways is prohibited.
  • Help ensure the safety of people and wildlife by learning the #WildlifeRules.
    • Respect all closures and obey speed limits;
    • Never feed wildlife, ensure to give them lots of space and stay in your vehicle when viewing wildlife by the roadside; and
    • Keep pets on a leash at all times.
  • As always, a ban on alcohol and cannabis possession and consumption is in effect for summer long weekends in Banff campgrounds from 7 a.m. on the first day of each long weekend until 11 a.m. on the last day.
  • Check the fire danger rating in Banff National Park. Campers and day-use area users are reminded:
    • To obey all fire restrictions in the area;
    • To only use the metal fire rings provided by Parks Canada or designated cooking shelters;
    • To keep fires small;
    • Not to burn garbage or food waste as these are considered wildlife attractants; and
    • Ensure fires are fully extinguished by dowsing with water before leaving the area.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention

Water recreationalists must plan ahead and know the regional and local requirements before arriving in Banff National Park. Parks Canada is asking the public to help stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and comply with Clean Drain Dry and Certify requirements when recreating in lakes and rivers this summer.

    • Clean all mud, sand, plant, and animal materials from your watercraft or water-related gear. This includes boats, paddleboards, fishing gear, and water toys.
    • Drain coolers, buckets, compartments, and other items that may hold water.
    • Dry for a minimum of 48 hours after use in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, or the territories of Canada, including use in the national parks AND a minimum of 30 days after use in the United States or provinces other than British Columbia, Alberta and/or the territories of Canada.
    • Certify: Obtain an AIS Prevention Permit (self-certification or inspection) before recreating in lakes and rivers. Visit a Parks Canada watercraft inspection station where available for a free inspection.
    • Boats with ballast systems are not permitted to launch on Lake Minnewanka. Ballast tanks or bags cannot be fully drained and thus always present a risk of transferring AIS between waterbodies. Towing sports and wake surfing, the main activities boats with ballast systems are used for, continue to be prohibited on Lake Minnewanka.

For more on AIS requirements within Banff National Park, please visit the Parks Canada website.