The Canadian Rockies is one of the best destinations Canada has to offer in terms of stunning nature. It’s a gem you should not miss (at least once in a lifetime)! Banff, Jasper 5 Days Itinerary is about all points we discovered so far: lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife viewpoints, etc.
All the mentioned places you can find on the map below.
Why Banff, Jasper, Yoho National Parks are so special?
Beautiful turquoise lakes are the #1 reason why people from all over the world are coming to the Rockies (with glaciers and wildlife next to them). Add near a dozen of dramatic waterfalls, canyons, and gorges, and you’ll get the whole picture.
But that’s not all. As parents with small children (8 y/o, almost 3 y/o, and 6 w/o at the time of travel), we discovered that most top-rated places are easily accessible and close to each other.
Our itinerary; how many days to spend in the parks
Since we only had 5 days to explore Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks and knew we were not coming back in the nearest future, we decided to see as much as possible. But I do recommend choosing less and exploring at a slower pace, especially if you have youngsters with you.
If you have the time (and budget), then definitely spend a week or two in these parks.
As for accommodation, we split the nights between the town of Jasper (first two nights) and the town of Banff (last three nights).
Banff, Jasper 5 Days Itinerary with Kids
Day 1. Jasper National Park
What we were able to see on the 1st day:
- Medicine Lake: cool story and view, recommend for a brief visit:
2. Maligne Lake: recommend. We only did a hike for 1.5 hours, but most people visit it for an iconic picture of the Spirit Island (you have to take a cruise or puddle 14 km one way to see it).
3. A short stroll in Jasper town.
4. Maligne Canyon: 3 hours, highly recommend:
Day 2. Banff, Jasper 5 Days Itinerary: Icefields Parkway
Icefields Parkway is often considered a separate destination:
Icefields Parkway runs through the Jasper and Banff National Parks, along with one of the biggest natural marvels of Canada. No wonder it is named one of the top scenic roads in the world! One full day of exploring wasn’t enough for us.
A half of dozen must-visit places on the Icefields Parkway located near Athabaska Glacier, we made a separate post about it.
What we were able to see in one day at the Icefields Parkway:
- Pyramid Lake. A brief visit: a very nice, peaceful place, good for a picnic.
- Athabasca Falls. We spent more than 2 hours there, highly recommend:
3. Mountain goats lookout (52.6166,-117.8451361). Highly recommend:
4. Sunwapta Falls. Half an hour, recommend.
5. Stutfield Glacier viewpoint (52.2772306,-117.3121889). Good for a quick glance, recommend.
6. Hike to toe of the Athabasca Glacier. Around an hour, recommend.
7. Icefields Parkway panoramic overlook (52.1767694,-117.055225). Good for a brief stop, highly recommend:
8. Weeping Wall. Cool place, good for a quick glance:
Day 3. Banff, Jasper 5 Days Itinerary: Banff National Park
Banff is the top destinations among the Canadian Rockies National Parks. Be prepared for crowds and plan well ahead.
What we were able to see and explore on the 3d day:
- Peyto Lake, currently closed for rehabilitation. Highly recommend, about an hour and a half:
2. Bow Lake. We spent 2 or more hours there, highly recommend.
3. Crowfoot Glacier (51.6628056,-116.4385306). Highly recommend for a quick glance.
4. Herbert Lake. Very nice spot for a picnic lunch.
5. Lake Moraine. Book shuttle bus early. 2 hours, highly recommend:
Day 4. Banff National Park
What we were able to see on the 4th day:
- Bow Valley Parkway. Recommend for wildlife spotting (early in the morning or late in the evening). Currently restricted to public vehicles.
2. Johnston Canyon. Book shuttle bus early. 3 hours. Before Covid-19, I would trade it for Marble Canyon instead because of the crowds:
3. Lake Louise. Book shuttle bus early. 2 or more hours, highly recommend:
4. Short stroll at Banff town.
5. Vermilion Lakes. We did just a drive along the lakes but immediately sighed it into our kayak bucket list. 🙂 Vermilion Lakes are secluded, serene, full of wildlife, and very close to the town of Banff.
Day 5. Banff, Jasper 5 Days Itinerary. Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park is like a little gem. Being the smallest among all National Parks in the Canadian Rockies, it has a lot to offer. First of all, fewer crowds. For us, it was a perfect, serene spot to spend the last day before the long trip back to Seattle.
What we were able to see on the 5th day:
- The Spiral Tunnel. Good for a quick stop, recommend. Watching 3 parts of a train going in different directions is worth a stop! 15 min approximate wait time for a train in summer.
2. Emerald Lake, a gorgeous place, also one of our favorites in the Canadian Rockies. Good for 2 or more hours, highly recommend:
If you have enough time, you can also try at Yoho National Park:
3. Natural Bridge. Great place for a quick stop on the way to/from Emerald Lake.
4. Lake O’Hara (must reserve shuttle bus to get there or hike 11 km) and 5. Takakkaw Falls (short 1-mile hike) are also great to visit in the Yoho National Park.
Banff Jasper 5 Days Itinerary Essentials
- Saskatchewan Crossings is the only place with a gas station on the entire Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise village.
- Weather is unpredictable in the Rockies. Early mornings and late evenings tend to be chilly even if it’s hot during the day.
- You can experience sun, wind, clouds, unmelted snow, and heat all on the same summer day!
- Sweater, sturdy boots, water-repellent jacket, hat, gloves, fleece leggings/warm pants, swimsuit, towel, and sunglasses are essential.
- Binoculars would be really helpful during the trip to the Rockies
- Respect wildlife, give them plenty of space, and don’t try to feed. We witnessed multiple times how tourists were literally casing wild beasts to take a perfect pic.
All the mentioned places on My Map
Enjoy your time in the parks. They are truly magnificent!
Medicine Lake: disappearing beauty in the Jasper National Park.
Planning a great trip to Banff, Jasper, and Yoho on a budget. Accommodation, the best time to go, camping, hostels, etc.
Hawaii on a budget 2021: which island to choose, the best time to see the lush tropical vegetation, local food, car rentals, tours, etc. Maui, “The island with the best beaches”, Kauai, “island with the best hikes”, Big Island: “The land of active volcanoes”.