Our favorite dog-friendly trails in Banff

By Fred Jéquier

When heading out on a glamping adventure to somewhere like Banff in Alberta, Canada—with its trails galore, forests to explore, and lakes to navigate—many of us would relish the opportunity to share the experience with the four-legged members of our families. We've all been on vacations when, much to their indignation, we couldn't take our beloved canine pals, but by taking your dog to Banff, they'll stop hounding you to include them in your getaway plans.

Keep on reading to find out where you should stay and our favorite trails to hike in this beautiful corner of Canada!

Finding the perfect pad

Before you can set off on a hike with your dog, you first have to pick out that perfect, pet-friendly accommodation. With some wonderful options to choose from for your trip, you can grab those leashes, stock up on treats, and give your furry companion the vacation they deserve!

1. Dog house or dog palace?

This cabin with incredible mountain views will certainly give you paws for thought. It's not just pet-friendly, but it is perfect for a large family vacation, or even a group getaway. Set just outside of Calgary, Alberta, you and your dog can be hiking through Banff National Park together in under an hour.

2. A Golden opportunity

Another great location for you and your pet to relax after a busy day of exploring the forest and discovering new scents is Golden, British Columbia. Just over an hour's drive from Lake Louise, this fabulous cabin will leave even the smartest retriever thinking it's too far-fetched to be true! Glampers can kayak, and puppies can paddle while enjoying the comforts of this charming woodland cabin.

3. "Choose your own adventure" glamping

For a more rustic experience, glampers can opt for a cozy accommodation like this retro campervan, whose homebase is just south of Calgary, Alberta. Perfect for couples and hounds alike, the campervan set up by the hosts wherever guests would like, including any of the many campsites near Banff National Park. While the campervan must stay in one place, you and your canine companion most certainly don't have to and will be able to easily take advantage of the National Park's many trails together.

Pet-Friendly Trails

Now that you've found the ideal spot to stay with your four-legged friend, you can start to think about what you want to do in Banff National Park. You want to see as much as you can, while ensuring that your pet has an equally memorable time exploring the park. The perfect solution? There are plenty of different trail options available, varying in length, location, and difficulty.

1. Mistaya Canyon

This trail may be on the short side for the more seasoned explorer, but it's not to be sniffed at! Suitable for hikers of all skill levels and located about five kilometers south of Saskatchewan Crossing, the Mistaya Canyon Trail is a scenic hike. Just over a kilometer long, it features mesmerizing rock formations, rushing water, and several beautiful waterfalls.

2. Tunnel Mountain Trail

The Tunnel Mountain Trail is just under four kilometers long, starting on the edge of the town of Banff itself. There are some steep parts to walk up, but neither you nor your dog will find it too ruff, as there is time for you to catch your breath and bring a halt to any puffing and panting as the trail levels out in sections. When you get to the top, the climb will absolutely have been worth it. The views of Banff, and the surrounding mountains and forest are breathtaking!

3. Skoki Mountain Loop Trail

If you are hoping to unleash your inner hardcore trekker, this trail is the ideal choice. Nearly 40 kilometers in length, this looped trail features stunning views of Banff National Park and a lake that is perfect for enjoying on any particularly warm days. The Skoki Mountain Loop Trail is sure to be a great day out for both you and your right-hound man. Don't be surprised if any younger pups expect a helping paw to get to the finish line!

Park Rules

It's important to remember that those wagging tails lapping up their vacation time won't be the only members of the animal kingdom in the area. The National Park is home to a host of wildlife, and this means there are certain rules that dogs and their humans need to adhere to. Here are just a few important ones to remember, but glampers should also check out Alberta Animal Health Source for a more in-depth look at the rules.

1. Leashes

Dogs will need to stay on their leash while enjoying their day of hiking. With animals, such as black bears, cougars, and bison, living in the park, you'll want to make sure your pup stays close by. To give them a bit more freedom, the leash can be up to three meters long, so they can still have a sniff around.

2. Meeting the residents

If you do come across any of the local wildlife, such as elk or deer, give them a wide berth, especially during calving season. Sadly, these otherwise majestic creatures can't tell the difference between a friendly wagging tail saying "Hello!" and a wolf or coyote with less friendly intentions, so they won't be welcoming to any canine visitors.

3. Sunny days = hot cars

It's vital to remember not to leave your furry friend in the car, especially on a hot day. Besides, you wouldn't want to take your dog all that way just to leave them waiting for you while you enjoy the National Park, would you? Even if you're just popping into the shop on the way back to your accommodation, try to take your buddy along. They may enjoy having a look at a new town just as much as you.


For more information about Banff National Park, check out our in-depth travel guide, filled with information, tips, and ideas, for your glamping adventure in Alberta, Canada!

Travel Guide: Banff National Park

By Amber Woolley

Banff National Park is home to sensational mountains, vast, white glaciers, stunning alpine meadows, and an abundance of wildlife. Located in Alberta in the Rocky Mountains, this is Canada's first-ever National Park, and it's quite amazing. From a quaint peaceful town with plenty of restaurants and boutiques to an array of outdoor activities, Banff is one place that is never short on adventure. Since this breathtaking place has so much to offer, we don't want you to miss out on any opportunities, so we've created a travel guide to make your trip even more spectacular.

Good to know before you go

Getting there and around

If you are flying in, Calgary, in Alberta, is the main city and the easiest way to get to Banff National Park. Calgary International Airport (YYC) is 88 miles from the charming town of Banff, which will take you approximately 1.5 hours to reach by car. You can also get to Banff and Lake Louise by the readily-available local bus services for around $71 per person.

If you want to travel to Banff by direct train and fancy traveling in style, it is recommended you take the Rocky Mountaineer—where you can uncover this hidden world of unparalleled beauty and experience incredible views of the Canadian Rockies.

The best way to get around Banff National Park is to drive your own car or rent one from a car rental service. It is also important you pick up a park pass, which can be purchased upon entry to the park or in advance online.

For those wanting a truly relaxing getaway where they can focus solely on the incredible scenery, public transport runs throughout the park, making travel from one beautiful spot to the next completely stress-free. Roam is a regular hybrid bus service and you can find out more information here.

Useful Facts

Popular spots you don't want to miss

Every destination in Banff National Park is beautiful and it is sometimes difficult to know where to start. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.

Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs
Photo sourced from Banff and Lake Louise.

First, we'll begin with the discovery that led to the development of Banff National Park: the hot springs. These were discovered in 1883 by three railway workers looking for healing and wellness. The Upper Hot Springs are one of nine naturally occurring hot springs at Banff. You will experience a striking and scenic backdrop while unwinding in steamy, hot mineral water—sure to be a highlight of your vacation!

Bow Falls

Another popular destination that can't be missed is Bow Falls, which is within walking distance from Banff. The stunning waterfall is shallow, but wide, and is caused by the change of course in the Bow River. Enjoy the view, take a picnic, or hike along the trail by the side of the falls.

Banff Gondola

Fancy a thrill? The Banff Gondola is a must! Experience a 360-degree, bird's eye view of six scenic mountain ranges from 7,486 feet above sea level! This scenic cableway ride will provide beautiful mountain vistas in every direction and will take you up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain.

Trip savvy: Activities on a budget

Visiting Banff doesn't have to be a costly trip; being in the heart of Canada's most renowned park is sufficient enough! Banff National Park is not short of low-cost and free activities that you should definitely take advantage of.

Wildlife viewing

When you step into Banff National Park, the chances are very high that you'll catch a glimpse of a grizzly bear, a mountain goat, or one of the many amazing bird species in the area. Wildlife viewing is also a perfect and exciting activity that can be done with the whole family and is completely free.

Sometimes, it really does help to know the right spot and the right time to be there. Here are some tips to optimize your chances:

1. Choose a quiet area. You have a higher chance of spotting wildlife if there are fewer tourists. A good recommendation is Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A), which is a less-traveled road. Typically, this is where you will find wolves, black bears, deer, and sheep.

2. Search at the right time. Yes, you probably guessed, this means early mornings. Animals are more likely to be feeding at lower levels. If you are not an early riser, the next optimal time is just before dusk.

3. Be respectful and keep your distance. Getting too close to animals can threaten their survival. Seeing them in their natural environment and giving them space is an important wildlife viewing tip.

Self-guided walking tours

Historic Ski Village of Banff
Photo sourced from SKI Magazine.

Do you want to discover more about Banff? A self-guided walking tour is a fun and interesting way to learn about the town's history. Download this easy PDF, which will provide you with five tours that have been optimized for mobile viewing.

Hiking

With a 1,000 miles of trails, hiking in Banff National Park is full of adventure, has some of the world's most spectacular views, and is completely free of charge. The park is perfect for those wanting an easy stroll, as well as those who desire a more ambitious hike. Plain of Six Glaciers is a rewarding hike that should definitely make it onto your bucket list. This hike has one of the most accessible trails and offers extraordinary views of the mountains surrounding Lake Louise.

Banff National Park is also dog-friendly for those traveling with their pet. The only stipulations are that your dog must be kept on a leash and under control at all times. There are, however, some trails where dogs are not allowed so be sure to check this out beforehand.

Hot tip: Check the latest trail conditions with Parks Canada before you begin your adventure.

Upcoming Events

Events in Banff National Park and Lake Louise.
Photo sourced from Banff and Lake Louise.

There are many exciting events all year round at Banff National Park, so be sure to check the calendar before you book your vacation. The following are some examples of the types of events offered:

  • Alpenglow Festival at the Banff Gondola: March 1, 2019
  • Mindfulness and Yoga Retreat at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: April 26, 2019
  • Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival - October 26-November 3, 2019

Safety

Before you depart to one of the worlds most beautiful and wild places, it is important you are all clued up on some important safety tips.

Natural Hazards

Natural hazards can be a big part of the National Park experience, but their impact can be reduced if you are well informed and prepared. If you want to read more on how to keep safe in the outdoors, visit AdventureSmart!

Driving

If driving, you must be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, even at all times of the year. At higher elevations, it may even snow during the summer. This is why it's extremely important to drive with caution at all times. A top tip is to equip your car with the essentials in case of an emergency, such as a shovel, a flashlight, a blanket, food, and water.

Mountain safety tips

  • Never hike alone.
  • Plan your trip beforehand and take a map.
  • Pack a flashlight.
  • Take extra clothes.
  • Bring a first aid kit.
  • Ensure your cell phone is fully charged.

Animal Safety

Wildlife behavior is unpredictable, and animals can get stressed when their space is invaded by humans, especially when they are trying to protect their offspring. It is important to view and photograph the animals from a sensible distance. In general, it is recommended to stay back 100 meters from bears (unless you are inside a vehicle); 30 meters from all other large species; and 200 meters from coyote, fox, or wolf dens.

Health

  • Be sure to take out comprehensive health insurance before your trip.
  • Canada has no essential vaccinations; however, as always, there are some that are recommended by the World Health Organization, such as hepatitis A and B, rabies, meningitis, and MMR.
  • Even though Canada is an industrialized country, bug bites can still spread diseases. Try to avoid bug bites, especially when you will be spending a lot of time outside and in wooded areas. It is recommended to take an insect repellent along.

Where to Stay

If you're visiting Banff National Park, it is already clear you love the outdoors and adventure. This cozy lodge is situated right in the heart of Banff National Park and has breathtaking views of Bow Lake. The lodge is located in the ideal spot to access the famous Canadian Glaciers, waterfalls, and Rocky Mountains, as well as being only a 30-minute drive from the town of Banff.

If you are looking for an authentic ski chalet, this log cabin is the perfect spot for you. With a central location that gives you access to an array of activities, guests are never far from adventure, all while knowing they have a cozy sanctuary to relax in at the end of the day.


Want to keep exploring our glamping accommodations in Canada? Check out our complete collection here!