Coach tours from Banff and Calgary typically stop at Johnston Canyon and other beauty spots in the Canadian Rockies, such as Moraine Lake, Victoria Glacier, and Takakkaw Falls. While many travelers hike the trail independently in summer, in winter it’s better to go as part of a guided tour, as you’ll need special equipment to navigate the trail safely. Many multi-day excursions exploring Banff, Jasper, and Yoho national parks also visit the canyon.
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Things to Know Before You Go
The trail to Lower Falls is wide, paved, relatively easy, and accessible to wheelchairs.
There are two viewing platforms at Upper Falls: one overlooking the bottom of the falls, and one at the top of the gorge looking out across the top of the falls.
You’ll find restrooms at the parking lot, and a gift shop and restaurant in Johnston Canyon Resort (summer only).
How to Get There
Johnston Canyon is about a 30-minute drive from Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway. Buses run a seasonal route between Banff and Johnston Canyon. The trail starts behind Johnston Canyon Lodge.
When to Get There
The Johnston Canyon trail is one of the busiest in Banff. If you’re going in summer, prepare for crowds—the trail usually has fewer hikers before 9am and just before sunset. For a more serene experience, opt for a nighttime winter tour, when the frozen canyon is silent except for the sound of your footsteps on the snow.
Hiking at Johnston Canyon
Choose from several Johnston Canyon hikes. A round-trip walk to Lower Falls is about a mile (1.6 kilometers), with an elevation gain of around 164 feet (50 meters). The round-trip trek to Upper Falls is about 3 miles (5 kilometers)—the path gets steeper after Lower Falls. More experienced hikers might continue another 2 miles (3 kilometers) to the Ink Pots, shallow mineral springs bubbling to the surface in a high mountain meadow.