Johnston Canyon is a popular destination in Banff, thanks to its rugged beauty and easy access. Johnston Creek runs through the canyon and has waterfalls and blue pools. Walk beneath overhanging rock faces and lean out over the roaring water as you walk along a steel walkway built onto the side of the sheer canyon walls.
The 1.7-mile (2.7 kilometer) trail runs from a resort and camping ground at the start of the canyon, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from Banff. The main attractions on the walk are two large waterfalls: the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls, but there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way. .
The Lower Falls are about 0.7 miles (1.1 kilometers) from the car park. Stand on the bridge crossing the creek for the best vantage point. A tunnel through the canyon rock will get you closer to the waterfall, but be prepared to get wet. Some visitors choose to turn back after the first falls.
The Upper Falls are another mile (1.6 kilometers) further up the trail. The 100-foot (30-meter) waterfall is well worth the trek if time permits. There are two different vantage points: one from a platform at the bottom of the falls, and another overlooking the top. Water roars over the falls in summer. In winter, the frozen falls are just as spectacular, although the path is icy and can be dangerous.
Summer is the busiest time to visit. Come in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. The return trip to the Upper Falls is close to two hours, so leave plenty of time to do the walk before nightfall.
Adventurous hikers can continue past the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots. These small, cold mineral springs are set in open meadows surrounded by mountains, located another 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) from the Upper Falls.
Johnston Canyon is about a 30-minute drive northwest of the town of Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A). There is no fee to access the canyon and there is free parking at the trail head, although a space can be hard to find as this is one of the most popular hiking spots around Banff.
Accommodation in Johnston Canyon
You may not find a huge range of hotel deals in Johnston Canyon, so it would be wise to investigate the information and deals on Expedia's Johnston Canyon lodging page.