Natural wonders in Banff offer an entire world of national treasures, stunning vistas, clear mountain lakes, waterfalls, dense green forests, snow-covered peaks, and other attractions. Here you can walk miles upon miles of hiking trails, engage in wildlife viewing, go swimming in clean, fresh, natural waters, and experience one of UNESCO's most treasured cultural and national monuments. If outdoor adventure is your jam, there are few better places in the world than this national park.

    If you're lucky, you'll even catch sight of wildlife like wolves, bears, caribou, elk, and even beavers. Check out some of the best natural wonders in Banff and its namesake national park, and escape to some of Canada's most stunning landscapes.

    1

    Johnston Canyon

    See cascading waterfalls and turquoise springs

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    Johnston Canyon offers a winding hiking trail where you'll traverse bridges over rushing creeks and see 2 waterfalls cascading down the steep cliff walls. The walking path here covers 4 miles of canyon and ends at the Ink Pots, a group of springs that have uniquely turquoise water. If you don't want to take the full walk, a shorter jaunt keeps you on the lower level, where about an hour's return offers you plenty of natural sites with towering cliffs on either side.

    The entrance to the canyon is about 16 miles along the Bow Valley Parkway. It's about 30 minutes from the entrance to Banff itself.

    Location: Bow Valley Pkwy, Alberta T1L 1K2, Canada

    Phone: +1 403-762-1550

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    2

    Lake Louise

    See a crown jewel of the park

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    Lake Louise is one of the crown jewels of the park, offering turquoise green waters, snow-capped mountains with gorgeous views, canoeing, and relaxation. The waters here are almost always too cold for swimming but getting out on a canoe or kayak is a popular activity here, and a local hotel offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. You can also stroll along the lakeshore via a paved walking path.

    In fact, this region is the locale of one of the most popular resorts in Alberta, BC, and even if you don't stay at the chateau, you can grab a delicious meal right on-site. It's about 37 minutes northwest of Banff.

    Location: Canada

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    3

    Sulphur Mountain

    Catch panoramic bird's-eye views of Banff

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    Sulphur Mountain offers fantastic birds-eye views of the town of Banff and the entire surrounding valley, with a breathtaking gondola ride carrying you to the summit. The parking area to reach this mountain is only 2.5 miles south of Banff. You can get a splendid view from any of 3 terrace decks, and then grab a bite to eat at a mountain-top restaurant. You can also enjoy a wide range of hiking options.

    One of the easiest hikes is the Banff Skywalk Vista Trail, which is just over a half-mile long and leads to both a famed meteorological station and to the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site. Sulphur Mountain offers stunning views, good eats, and a range of outdoor adventures.

    Location: Alberta T0L 2C0, Canada

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    4

    Moraine Lake

    Hike the shores of a vast, clear mountain lake

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    Moraine Lake is a famous landmark in the Valley of the Ten Peaks offering bright blue waters, mountains rising 9,842.52 feet all around, and an enormous glacier. It's considered by many to be among the most impressive mountain lakes in the park. You can reach it from the parking area via a hike that's just over a half-mile along the northwest shore, which is an easy, flat walk where you'll see one incredible view after the next. These include the Rockpile Trail that offers the best view, or a full-day, more challenging hike along the Sentinel Pass, one of the most popular passes in the park.

    Canoe and kayak rentals are also available. Moraine Lake is an hour northwest of Banff.

    Location: Alberta, Canada

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    5

    Plain of Six Glaciers

    Take in stunning views from a Swiss tea house

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    The Plain of Six Glaciers is beyond two of the most iconic mountain lakes in the park, with stunning views plus the opportunity to enjoy an authentic Swiss tea house. Hiking trails here take you on a full-day trip along a 9-mile long trail that connects a number of other wilderness sites and a treasury of natural vistas. You'll see ice blue mountain lakes and streams, towering mountains, and massive genuine glaciers.

    The tea house is open seasonally, but during its open hours, it's a stunning place to capture mountain views and relax with delicious drinks and snacks. It's 44 minutes northwest of Banff.

    Location: Alberta, Canada

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    6

    Bow Lake

    Visit the entrance to the Waputik Icefield

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    Bow Lake is one of several scenic mountain lakes deep in the heart of Banff National Park, with still, clear waters that form part of a massive icefield. Here you can take long, serene walks along the lakeshore to discover a cascading scenic waterfall, a walk that takes about half a day. If you want to see even more, a full day's walk allows you to explore the Dolomite Pass all the way to 2 adjacent mountain lakes.

    This high in the mountains, the waters are too cold to swim, but the viewpoints are breathtaking and some people enjoy canoeing or kayaking on the waters. It's just over an hour from Banff.

    Location: Alberta, Canada

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    7

    Bow Falls

    See a powerful, broad, whitewater waterfall

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    Bow Falls offers the chance to see a raging torrent of whitewater that tumbles down in a staggering cascade with a stunning display of nature's power. These falls may not be very high, but they are truly dramatic and wide. You can actually take a set of stairs down the falls to explore even further to where the waters calm and you'll find a peaceful forested area with good opportunities for wildlife viewing.

    These falls are also only about 4 minutes south along the Bow River from the heart of city centre Banff. Exploring the area takes only a couple of hours, making for a great half-day trip to get up close to a powerful natural site.

    Location: Banff, AB, Canada

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    8

    Peyto Lake

    Visit the highest pass in the park

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    Peyto Lake lies at the top of the highest mountain pass in Banff National Park at the heart of the watershed between two major river systems with stunning panoramic views. This important natural region offers a fantastic lookout point easily reachable on foot after just over a half mile's hike. The lake itself offers the unique turquoise colour held by many of the mountain lakes here, and during the summer months, it's surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers in rolling meadows. A steep walking path connects the lake to other vistas in the region.

    This area also includes amenities like washrooms, maintained and marked hiking trails, and parking facilities. It's just over an hour northwest of Banff.

    Location: Alberta, Canada

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    9

    Sentinel Pass

    Take a 7-mile scenic mountain walk

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    Sentinel Pass offers mountain views of the jagged peaks with vast, rugged slopes, rolling meadows, clear bodies of water, and untamed landscapes. It's about an hour northwest of Banff in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The trail starts at Moraine Lake and heads into the Valley of the Ten Peaks, along Wenkchemna Peak to Pinnacle Mountain and Mount Temple. If you're looking to capture nature photographs, this trail offers tonnes of options and panoramic views of just about every type of nature.

    The entire hike is a 7-mile return, so it's ideal for a day trip into the mountains. You'll see lakes, peaks, fields, forests, valleys, and just about every sort of temperate topography there is.

    Location: Alberta, Canada

    Phone: +1 403-522-3833

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    10

    Vermilion Lakes

    Escape the city in a serene locale

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    Vermilion Lakes offers an easy jaunt to experience 3 shallow lakes just 5 minutes south of city centre Banff, with calm and serene surroundings. These lakes are quite close to town and offer a fantastic, calm, and serene way to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while to just relax. Because they're less famous than the park, they tend to also be far less crowded.

    They still offer gorgeous views of the mountains reflected in the crystal clear waters. A trip here at sunset is also wildly popular when the sky and waters alike are awash with brilliant shades of pink, blue, purple, and red.

    Location: Alberta T0L 2C0, Canada

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