Bow Valley Parkway

Length: 51 km (1 hour)
Overall Rating:
08 - Highly Recommended
09 - Dramatic
06 - Ok, but you're not here for that
08 - Quiet, with limited passing

This drive is a scenic alternative to the Trans-Canada freeway that travels west of Calgary into the Rocky Mountains, joining the resort towns of Banff and Lake Louise. The drive is within Banff National Park and accordingly requires a park pass.

While in some ways the Trans-Canada offers better views (as more trees have been cleared for that route), the parkway gives a more intimate feel for the park. You’ll have much better chances to stop to appreciate the views and encounter wildlife on the route. Allow lots of time and take a leisurely pace – the speed limit is 60 km/h and is strictly enforced. Note too that the road is subject to closures for wildlife migration and breeding/birthing, so confirm any trip plans first with Parks Canada.

Once in Lake Louise ensure you take the short side-trip to Moraine Lake, and if you’re continuing on to BC, consider the Lake Louise Drive to rejoin the Trans Canada in Yoho National Park.

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