A day in the mountains is an essential part of any trip to Calgary. Discover why locals love living so close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains and start your mountain road trip travelling from Calgary to Banff. Add the heights of the Banff Gondola, the splash of the Lake Minnewanka Cruise, the thrill of Rockies Heli Canada, along with a detour to Canmore and Kananaskis Country to your bucket list and get ready for an adventure just a short drive from Calgary.
Rocky Mountain Road Trips from Calgary
Rocky Mountain Road Trips from Calgary
Calgary to Banff National Park Road Trip Itinerary
There are so many ways to road trip from Calgary to Banff with new adventures and hikes everyone will love. Banff National Park is 1 hour and 25 minutes from Calgary, and home to the majestic peaks and turquoise glacial lakes that have made it one of the most visited and photographed locations in the world. Cave and Basin National Historic Site and Banff Park Museum National Historic Site are both popular and accessible activities to add to any road trip along with popular restaurants like The Grizzly House and Park Distillery on Banff Ave. Did you know over three million visitors explore Canada’s first national park each year? Check out Banff & Lake Louise Tourism for more trip planning inspiration.
Ride the Banff Gondola
Everyone in the family can experience that summit feeling with the Banff Gondola. The outside rooftop deck and indoor interpretive centre are a perfect way to explore the top of Sulphur Mountain. Take the boardwalk to the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site or dine 7,486 feet in the air at Sky Bistro with a distinctly Canadian menu. That’s how you can capture views of six mountain ranges at the Banff Gondola, just an hour and a half from Calgary.
Location: 100 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B2
Take a Lake Minnewanka Cruise
Just 30 minutes from the Banff Gondola, the one hour guided Lake Minnewanka Cruise takes the mountain road trip to the water. Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka and let the tour guide share the history, geology, wildlife, and Indigenous culture of the area. You can even rent boats or take a guided fishing tour. The Lake Minnewanka Cruise is open from May to October and is located just an hour and a half from Calgary. In the winter, Lake Minnewanka freezes over for a majestic place for a family ice skate in the mountains. Lake Minnewanka is just a 15-minute drive from the Town of Banff.
Explore Banff with Rockies Heli Canada
Rockies Heli Canada is the ultimate bucket list experience in the Canadian Rockies. Open year-round, you can take to the sky for 20, 30, or 55-minute tours and add hiking, snowshoeing, or picnic experiences to your mountain adventure. You will get panoramic views from 20,000 feet in the air for a truly unique way to discover the mountains. Make this the final stop on your mountain adventure road trip, 2 hours from the Town of Banff, for a view of the Canadian Rockies you will never forget.
Location: Clearwater County, AB T0M 2H0
Calgary to Canmore Road Trip Itinerary
Ready for a detour on your way to Banff? Canmore and Kananaskis are popular areas to explore on your way from Calgary to Banff. Take the Highway 22 exit along the Trans-Canada Highway to access beautiful Kananaskis Country and add the popular Kananaskis Nordic Spa to your itinerary. Or continue along the Trans-Canada Highway and make the beautiful mountain town of Canmore part of your road trip. Local shops and a vibrant culinary scene make this a popular spot to spend the day in the Canadian Rockies. Both detours are just a one-hour drive from the city on your way to Banff and are great places to go near Calgary.
Location: Improvement District No. 9, AB T0L
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
If you have the extra time for a scenic drive, take Highway 1A from Calgary to Canmore and add these great road trip destinations to your trip. Start with the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, a day-use area with a series of easy to access trails everyone in the family can enjoy. Check out the Glenbow Ranch Visitor Centre, open Saturday and Sunday, for an exhibit area highlighting the cultural history of the valley.
Location: 255001 Glenbow Rd, Cochrane, AB
Make your way to historic downtown Cochrane, just 10 minutes away, with the views of the Canadian Rockies just over the horizon. The town of Cochrane is home to a welcoming community of shops, restaurants, and historic buildings, like the Rockyview Hotel, established in 1904. Include Cochrane on your Rockies road trip from Calgary to Canmore for lunch at the Blacksmith Pub, a fresh made treat from the Cochrane Baking Company, or a pint at the Rocky View Brewing Taproom.
Location: 521 1 St W, Cochrane, AB
Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary
Continue along Highway 1A, also known as the Bow Valley Trail in this area, to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, just 15 minutes from the town of Cochrane. Home to the majestic and wild nature of wolfdogs, this special facility welcomes visitors to learn more about wolfdogs and the conservation of wolves in the wild. Take a self-guided sanctuary walk, an intro tour with a trained wolfdog expert, or an interactive tour, a one-of-a-kind experience that takes you inside the Engadine enclosure. If you’re lucky, a wolfdog might even take a treat from your hand. Add this memorable experience to your Rocky Mountain road trip before continuing on your journey to Canmore, Banff, and beyond.
Location: 263156 Range Rd 53, Cochrane, AB