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12 BEST Stops on the Drive from Golden to Banff

12 BEST Stops on the Drive from Golden to Banff

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It’s one of the shortest road trips on our blog, at just an hour and 40 minutes long – but we’re here to tell you why you MUST drive the short but scenic route between Golden and Banff!

This is a super popular route no matter the season because it passes by some big-hitter tourist destinations like Emerald Lake, Lake Louise, and, Johnston Canyon. And each spot is just as beautiful in the summer as in the winter. 

We’ve really done our research for this one, and even though the route is just 139 kilometers (86 miles) long, we’ve come up with 12 amazing stops that you need to make time to see. I’ve started this road trip in the small, scenic town of Golden, but of course, you can do this road trip in reverse (from Banff to Golden) and stop at all the places listed below but in the opposite order!

About the Drive Between Golden and Banff

The drive from Golden to Banff will take just over an hour and 40 minutes and is 139 kilometers (86 miles) long. You will follow the Trans-Canada Highway for the majority of the journey – besides a short section towards the end where you must drive along the picturesque Bow Valley Parkway to stop at the spectacular Johnston Canyon and Morant’s Curve!

This route is considered an easy drive, although it can be pretty busy, especially in and around the popular tourist resort of Lake Louise. For such a short drive there’s so much to see along the way, including Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, and of course, Yoho National Park.

Even though this drive can be done in under two hours, I highly recommend allowing a minimum of one whole day for this road trip. Honestly, there are so many incredible stops along the way that rushing it would be a shame! If your itinerary allows, you could make it into more of a vacation than a road trip by stopping off and spending a night or two at Lake Louise!

If you plan to drive this route in winter, you will need winter tires as there may be snow or ice on the roads, specifically in Yoho National Park and gorgeous Banff National Park.

12 BEST Stops on the Drive from Golden to Banff

1. Golden

Downtown Golden, BC
The streets are so cute! Photo credit: Depositphotos Edb3_16

Before you set off on your road trip to Banff, be sure to spend some time exploring Golden. This small town of just around 4,000 people is surrounded by a bunch of national parks and mountain ranges, so there are endless outdoor activities to enjoy. The town of Golden also has amazing restaurants and shops.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Golden in the summer and winter months allowing me to create an epic list of things to do in Golden, but here are some highlights:

  • Explore downtown Golden – You’ll be pretty busy with all the different outdoor activities around Golden, but don’t forget the town itself! Downtown Golden is a quaint, historic-looking town and a good place to start your exploration is 9th Avenue, which has a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. You can learn more about the city at the Visitor Centre or Golden Museum.
  • Visit the Wolf Centre – Wolves are only one of the many magnificent creatures that may be found in the Canadian Rockies. While you probably don’t want to run into any in the wild, the Northern Lights Wolf Centre is an excellent location to learn about wolves and see them.
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – The best way to experience the river is to go whitewater rafting during the summer months! Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is such an adrenaline rush, with Grade 3-4 rapids, it’s one of the best rivers in Canada to go rafting. Our pick is this full-day tour where an expert guide will help you navigate the river. For $204 CAD, all equipment is included, along with a riverside BBQ lunch!
  • Hit the slopes at Kicking Horse Resort – Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a very popular ski resort in Canada, and for good reason! It’s known for the huge amounts of annual snowfall and expert terrain that will challenge even the most experienced riders.

Where to Stay in Golden

So now that you know about all of the amazing things to do in Golden, you’re going to need somewhere to stay a few nights before heading onwards to Banff. There’s just so much to explore in the area that you might as well enjoy a few days in one of Canada’s most underrated mountain towns.

Located outside of Golden surrounded by nature, the Golden Acres Mountain Lodge is the perfect luxury escape for anybody looking for a little R&R. The rooms are best suited for couples, with king suites with private kitchenettes, a balcony, and a spa bath.

Or those on a budget will love the Travelodge by Wyndham Golden Sportsman Lodge. With a central location, an indoor pool with a waterslide and hot tub, as well as an included breakfast, this hotel is a steal! They even have pet-friendly rooms and an outdoor picnic area with a BBQ.

Related Read: If you plan to drive from Vancouver to Golden, then be sure to check out our blog about the best stops on the drive between Vancouver and Golden!

2. Golden Skybridge

Golden Suspenion Bridge in Golden, BC with Bailey
What a place!
Bailey walks away from the camera at the Golden Suspension Bridge in Golden, BC
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared.

Your first stop after Golden is just a few minutes’ drive away, and it’s located just off the TransCanada Highway – the road you’ll be driving on all the way to Banff.

The Golden Skybridge is Canada’s highest suspension bridge, and it only just opened in the summer of 2021! At 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, you’ll experience such a thrill walking over it and taking in all the amazing views of the Columbia Valley. But the Golden Skybridge isn’t just a bridge – it’s an entire adventure park. You can read our review of the Golden Skybridge for more info!

There are two suspension bridges, a kids’ play park, a roller coaster, a climbing wall, and activities from ziplining to axe throwing. While it’s great for families, all ages can have a fantastic time! Tickets to the Golden Skybridge will set you back around $46 CAD and you’ll spend around 2 hours here, so it’s an easy addition to your road trip!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

3. Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is so beautiful!
Two people canoe on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada
Canoeing on Emerald Lake is magical!

Now, you’ve entered the scenic Yoho National Park, and there are a couple of must-visit stops within this gorgeous park – Emerald Lake is at the top of the list. Yup, the gorgeous Emerald Lake is an essential stop on your drive from Golden to Banff, and you’ll find it about 65 km (40 miles) from Golden.

As we’re sure you can guess from the name, this stunning body of water is named for its bright green hue, which comes from rock particles in the water that melt off the glaciers. The shade of the lake does vary according to the weather, the time of year, and even the time of day. However, it tends to be most vibrant during the summer and it does freeze during the winter, so its color isn’t as vibrant. 

While here, you can walk around the entire lake in just over an hour while you admire its shimmering green surface from every angle. The Emerald Lake Loop is a really beautiful walk and the trail itself is flat and easy, with lots of places to stop and enjoy the view. The trailhead is in the parking lot, where there are also toilets, and it’s about a 5.2-kilometer (3.2-mile) long loop. You can spot lots of wildlife here, and even snowshoe or cross-country ski in the winter months!

There is no better way to experience Emerald Lake’s calm waters than canoeing or kayaking, which is one of our favorite activities. You can rent canoes between late May and early October from the Emerald Boathouse for around $90 CAD per hour, which is significantly cheaper than at Lake Louise. The canoes fit 3 people each (or 2 adults and 1 dog, if you want to bring a furry friend instead!). You can’t reserve canoes in advance so we say get to the lake early, grab a canoe, and enjoy paddling around while it’s still nice and quiet. 

Finally, if you have the time why not spoil yourself and stay a night at the Emerald Lake Lodge on the edge of the lake? This hotel is absolutely gorgeous. Staying here is certainly on my bucket list!

There’s no admission fee to Emerald Lake but you do need a Parks Canada Pass to be inside Yoho National Park. So technically, it’s not really free, but once you’ve sorted your pass you won’t have to pay for tickets to the lake itself or anything.

A day pass to access Yoho National Park is $11 CAD or you can opt for a group pass for up to 7 people in the same vehicle for $22 CAD. If you’re planning to visit more than one national park or spend a week or two in one, it may be worth purchasing the yearly Discovery Pass. I have more info on that below.

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

4. Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge Lower Falls in Yoho National Park, Canada
Natural Bridge Lower Falls in Yoho National Park, Canada

Another stunning site in Yoho National Park is the Natural Bridge, an ancient rock formation that spans the Kicking Horse River. Over thousands of years, water eroded the soft rock beneath a hard limestone band, creating a bridge. It’s very cool to see the Natural Bridge, and it’s a quick stop. The turn-off for the bridge is along Emerald Lake Road, so you can stop to check it out on your way to or from Emerald Lake! 

5. Takakkaw Falls

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park
Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls also within Yoho National Park is the second-highest waterfall in Canada at 373 meters (1,224 feet) high, and it’s an absolute must-visit while you’re in Yoho National Park. Watching the water cascade down the rock face is mesmerizing, especially because the mist creates multiple rainbows at the bottom. 

Not only is this waterfall stunning, but it’s also super easy to visit. You can even just observe it from the parking lot if you don’t want to hike, but we do recommend doing the 1.8-kilometer (1.1-mile) Takakkaw Falls hike to see the falls up close. The path is super flat and well-maintained. 

6. Lake Louise

Views looking out at Lake Louise from the Fairmont
Views looking out at Lake Louise from the Fairmont
Bailey on the shores of Lake Louise
It’s almost too easy to get good photos here

Now that we’ve made the drive from Golden to Lake Louise, I encourage you not to rush this stop! Lake Louise is definitely one of the most popular stops on this road trip and I usually linger here for as long as I can! From hikes with the most gorgeous views (the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is one of my favorites) to amazing restaurants Lake Louise has it all.

Even something as simple as relaxing on the Lake Louise lakefront leaves me in awe looking out at the glaciers, mountain peaks, and the clear lake! One of my favorite times to visit is at sunrise because it is the least busy and the views are incredible.

Some other awesome activities available in Lake Louise in the summer are going canoeing on the lake, hiking the lakefront trail, and cycling one of the many biking trails in the area! Of course, taking the Lake Louise Gondola is one of the most popular attractions, and gives stunning views of Lake Louise and the nearby Victoria Glacier. I recommend purchasing your gondola tickets in advance, as we all know how busy Lake Louise can get!

If you aren’t an avid hiker but still want to explore the area, you can take a guided hiking tour! This is best if you’re staying near Lake Louise for a day or two to break up your road trip. This tour is six hours of hiking, exploring, catching incredible views, and learning about the area from your local guide. If this is your first time at Lake Louise, this is a great way to get the full experience, you can book this tour in advance here.

But, if you’re visiting Lake Louise in the winter, get out there on your ice skates or go skiing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort which is only 15 minutes from town. It just so happens to be one of the largest ski resorts in Canada with a 935-meter (3,068 feet) vertical descent, 7 ski lifts, and 142 kilometers (88 miles) of ski runs. It is well-equipped for any skill level and the gondolas are great for a cold day.

Note: From May 13th until October 10th, you’ll be required to pay $21 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2024 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily.  

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

There are lots of different places to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Lake Louise.

If you want to stay in Lake Louise town, consider the Lake Louise Inn, or the budget-friendly HI Lake Louise Hostel. Dan and I often stay at the HI Hostel and think it’s clean, comfortable, and great value for money.

For a little luxury or to spoil yourself, don’t miss the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This is arguably the most beautiful hotel in Canada set in the most beautiful location (right on the lake!).

7. Moraine Lake

Canoes at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
Moraine Lake!
Daniel proposes to Bailey at Moraine Lake
Daniel proposed at Moraine Lake!

We might be biased (as this is where we got engaged) but we think Moraine Lake is one of the most beautiful places to visit near Banff and an absolute must-stop on your road trip from Golden to Banff.

The lake itself is the brightest turquoise color possible and the surrounding mountains are nothing short of amazing. Daniel chose this place to get engaged because of how beautiful it is!

Unfortunately, because of its beauty, Moraine Lake is one of the most visited places between Golden and Banff. Plus, getting to Moraine Lake can be a challenge since the access road and parking lot are closed to all personal vehicle traffic (except those with disability parking permits).

You’ll need to check into parking alternatives at Moraine Lake including public transit, shuttles, and tours. Most people visit by taking a shuttle either from Banff town itself or from Lake Louise. One of the most popular departures is the Park and Ride from Lake Louise Ski Resort.

The Parks Canada shuttles only run during select hours, so if you want to go early in the morning, you’ll need to be on the first shuttle around 6:30 am. If you want to beat the crowds and make it for sunrise, hop on this new shuttle offered by the Moraine Lake Bus Company.

You can also visit Moraine Lake at sunrise by going on this early bird tour. That tour is the only other way to get there for sunrise since the road is only open to tour vehicles at that time. As you can imagine, this tour is super-popular and sell out quickly. So, if it tickles your fancy, be sure to book your ticket here in advance.

Another alternative to taking a shuttle is going on an organized tour like this one for around $113 CAD. This way you get dropped off and picked up as well as shown around to the most beautiful spots with an experienced guide! The issue here is that these tours depart from Banff or Calgary so you would have to do these tours before or after your road trip.

Important info: Moraine Lake is open from the end of May to mid-October and closes for the winter due to avalanche risk. This means it’s only one of the best things to do if you’re driving this route in the summer or early fall.

Related Read: Before booking your ticket, check out our review of the Moraine Lake Bus Company and the various shuttles they offer!

8. Morant’s Curve

Morant's Curve train snakes it's way through the mountains in Banff
The train passing Morant’s Curve!
Morant's Curve in winter
Morant’s Curve in winter

Named after photographer Nicholas Morant, who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway, this is a popular viewing point along the road from Golden to Banff. It’s well-known for its fantastic views of the Bow River and the trains that pass through. With an incredible mountain backdrop, visiting Morant’s Curve really does make for a special photo.

Morant’s Curve is around a 5 to 7-minute drive along the Bow Valley Parkway after you leave Lake Louise heading towards Banff. Along the way, you’ll spot signs for the viewpoint to the small parking lot.

As for when the trains come through, you have the best chance of seeing one during a weekday, passing by at least once an hour. It’s best to have your camera ready so you can get the perfect shot!

9. Castle Mountain Lookout Trail

Castle Mountain Viewpoint along the Bow Valley Parkway
Castle Mountain Viewpoint along the Bow Valley Parkway

For those with a bit more time to spend, the Castle Mountain Lookout Trail offers fantastic, panoramic views of Castle Mountain. You’ll find the trailhead about 22 km (13.7 miles) from Lake Louise along the Bow Valley Parkway.

All in all, the entire hike is a little over 7.2 km (4.5 miles) long with an elevation of about 1,800 feet (557 meters) and will likely take you about three to four hours to complete. The trail is well-kept and accessible from May until October.

While we would classify this as an easy-to-medium hike, there are some steeper sections. Although the views make the effort worth it. Make sure to bring along plenty of water and snacks for the trail too. On a clear day, you may even see as far as the Three Sisters Mountain in Canmore!  

10. Silverton Falls

Silverton Falls, Banff
Silverton Falls!
close up of Silverton Falls Banff

If you’re looking for an easy hike to stretch your legs on the Bow Valley Parkway, then Silverton Falls is the perfect trail to tackle.

The trail is 1.8 km long (1.1 miles) return and takes most people around 45 minutes to complete. Although it’s considered an easy trail, it does have a steep section towards the end, about 110 meters (360 feet), so you’ll also get a bit of a workout in.

The trail begins at the Rockbound Lake Parking Lot, just off the Bow Valley Parkway. From there, you can follow the wide dirt path to Silverton Falls, which is a narrow two-tiered waterfall. It’s a bit of a hidden gem in Banff National Park, despite its proximity to the famous Castle Mountain. 

One thing we will say is that, although this hike is easy, it does take you along a cliff with a steep drop, so if you’re afraid of heights you might be better off choosing another of the routes on this list.

11. Johnston Canyon

Lower falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
The Lower Falls at Johnston Canyon!
Bailey looks down at the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
The Upper Falls is amazing!

No trip from Golden to Banff can be called complete without a hike through Johnston Canyon within Banff National Park. This is an easy walk that is perfect for families and individuals with all levels of fitness, at around 2.5 km (1.5 miles) to get to the Upper Falls area.

You’ll also most definitely be rewarded for your effort! Along the way, you’ll pass by stunning glacial waterfalls which are just as beautiful in summer as they are in winter. In the wintertime, these waterfalls freeze over to create a magical scene of giant icicles.

Open year-round, Johnston Canyon is free to get to and you can also enjoy free parking in one of the two available parking lots. If you’re visiting in winter, we highly recommend bringing ice cleats or spikes. These can save you a lot of embarrassment, leaving you free to enjoy the surroundings without worrying about falling over!

We highly recommend taking a guided nighttime tour here in the winter. It includes ice cleats, a hiking pole, and a souvenir headlamp. You’ll also get to warm your bones along the hike with a hot chocolate and a yummy maple cookie. This well-rated tour costs from $101 CAD per person and tends to sell out quickly – so book here in advance if it piques your interest!

Related Read: If you missed stopping at Johnston Canyon on your drive from Golden, then, you can still visit by booking a Johnston Canyon tour from Banff!

12. Banff

Bailey poses for a photo on Banff Ave walking street
Welcome to Banff!

And, you’ve reached your final destination – glorious Banff! Now that you’ve arrived in Banff town, book yourself a hotel for a few nights as you’ll definitely need time to explore this vibrant mountain town!

Truthfully, there are tons of things to do that it can be hard to know where to start. To make it easy, you can check out our 1, 2, and 3-day Banff itinerary! Here are some of my personal favorite activities in Banff:

  • Visit Mt Norquay – The views from Mt Norquay are unlike any other. In the summer, ride the sightseeing chairlift and visit the restaurant at the top for a beer with a view. If you visit Banff in the winter, you can’t miss hitting the slopes or testing out their famous tube park (fun for the whole family!).
  • Banff Upper Hot Springs – Relax in Banff’s very own hot springs with mountain views. The Banff Upper Hot Springs is one of the best hot springs in Alberta, it can get busy though so it’s best to go first thing in the morning or the last hour before they close.
  • Go hiking – The hiking trails in and around Banff are almost endless. In the summer, conquer difficult summits. But even in the winter, there are tons of epic hikes. Hiking is one of the best free things to do in Banff.
  • Indulge in food and drinks – Banff has tons of tasty restaurants and bars. For beer, head to Banff Brewing Co. For a delicious meal with cocktails, head to Parks Distillery. Did you know that you can also join this food tour that explores the many different rooms inside the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel? Food and drink pairings are included from the property’s high-end restaurants for $206 CAD. What a unique activity for foodies!
  • Check out the Bow Falls Lookout – The Bow River is a stunning river that runs through the heart of Banff. Turquoise in color, it is nothing short of picture-perfect. A short 1.5 km (0.9 miles) scenic walk from Banff town (or drive) you’ll come to the Bow Falls viewpoint on the river’s edge. Here, not only will you see the river, but also the Bow River Waterfall!
  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site – Another great place to visit in Banff is the Cave and Basin Historic Site. Here you can see some historic hot springs that are home to a rare species of snail. The museum is the main attraction in my eyes and it is very interactive and fun, especially for kids.

Related Read: Did you know there are actually 4 gondolas in Banff? Read our comparison of all of them so you can decide which one to hit (if not all!).

Where to Stay in Banff

View of the Fairmont Banff Springs from the Gondola
The Fairmont Banff Springs is the most luxurious place to stay in Banff!

Banff, being the major tourist destination it is, has no shortage of beautiful hotels. In fact, it’s hard to book a bad hotel in Banff. With that said, there are a few stand-out hotels for every budget. You know, those places that offer more for less.

From hotels in Banff town to ones that are a little more out in nature, we’ve put together a list of our favorites for each budget category:

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

The Fairmont Banff Springs is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. As you can expect, it’s not cheap but the place is simply incredible – it seriously looks like a castle! If you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon then this should be the hotel you choose.

Inside the hotel, you’ll find 11 restaurants, 14 shops, a bowling alley, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more. With so much to do in this one-of-a-kind luxury hotel, you’ll honestly feel like you’ll never want to leave!

Rooms here at the Fairmont start from around $660 CAD per night in the winter, but can rise further in peak season. For the best deals, it’s best to book as far ahead as possible! You can check prices and room availability online here.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – $$

Pushing up into the mid-range budget, the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort has a beautiful swimming pool, hot tub, and gym, and all the rooms come equipped with kitchenettes or full kitchens. We’d say this is the perfect option for families since two and three-bedroom units are also available. The hotel is also in a good location that’s just a 5-minute drive away from town, so it’s a great place to enjoy the wonderful peace and quiet of the Banff countryside!

Rooms here average around $375 CAD per night in the high season, but dip as low as around $144 CAD in the winter. You can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.

Banff Inn – $$

Rooms at the Banff Inn have a very affordable price tag, but are also chock-full with all the amenities you could want to have a great stay! This way, you can splurge on those once-in-a-lifetime tours and experiences that make a trip to Banff so memorable.

The hotel is located right on Banff Ave and all rooms are air-conditioned. Inside, you’ll find a hot tub, steam room, and sauna, as well as a restaurant and bar – perfect for a little bit of relaxation after a long day out exploring Banff. Rooms here start at $169 CAD, but don’t forget to book the Banff Inn well in advance as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff!

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

For folks looking to save some cash while having a blast in Banff, it’s definitely worth checking out the Samesun Banff Hostel. It’s a great place for backpackers or anyone who’s fine with making some new friends and doesn’t mind sharing a dorm. But if you’re keen on privacy, keep in mind that there aren’t any private rooms available here.

A bed in a dorm here starts from around $50 CAD in the winter, including breakfast, and can be booked on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Accommodation in Banff can be tricky. For starters, you need to book well in advance if you want to have a large selection. I suggest booking a place ASAP! Using Booking.com is great too because lots of hotels offer free cancellation so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Please note: Hotel prices in Banff differ from winter to summer. In fact, most hotels are more than double the price in summer.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
Thanks for reading!

Whew, and there you have it 12 of the best stops to make on the short but sweet drive from Golden to Banff. As you have read, this route has it all – from some of the top tourist attractions to hidden gem spots that not many tourists know about!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also enjoy some of my other most popular Alberta and BC road trip suggestions and Banff posts. Some of my favorites include:

12 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Golden

13 BEST Stops on the Drive from Lake Louise to Banff

4 BEST Coffee Shops and Cafes in Banff with EPIC views & food!

Lake Louise Gondola VS Banff Gondola: Which one is Better?!