Is it feasible to visit the Rocky Mountains without a vehicle, but there are some limitations to what you can see. Public transportation is improving, but it’s still not widely available for all attractions an sights. Some hiking trails will only be accessible by booking through a tour company. Self driving is the best way to fully explore the mountains. It allows you to set your own pace and schedule and go to the places that interest you. However this doesn’t mean you can’t have an enjoyable visit without a vehicle.
Getting Around Banff
Walking In Banff
The town of Banff is one of the easiest places to visit without a vehicle. It’s small and compact, making it very pedestrian friendly. Much of the accommodation, restaurants and attractions are all within walking distance of each other. Pick up a map from the Parks Canada visitor center on Banff Avenue. It will show all the main tourist attractions that you can walk to incluing the Bow Falls, the Banff Park Museum, the Whyte Musuem and the Cascade Gardens.
There are several walking and hiking trails close to town.
- Fenland Trail
- Vermillion Lake Trail
- Spray Loop
- Tunnel Mountain Meadows
- Hoodoo Trail
- Tunnel Mountain Summit Trail
Banff Roam Public Bus System
Banff has an excellent public transportation system. If you spend any amount of time in Banff you’ll see the buses fashioned with giant photographs of the local wildlife incluing elk, wolves and bears. The local schedule starts as early as 6am with the latest buses running up until midnight. You can pay as you board or purchase single route or single or multiple day passes. Check to see if your hotel is on the Roam route. They may provide free bus passes to their guests. Some of the stops and attractions are the Banff Gondola and hot springs, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Tunnel Mountain. For information on these stops and the seasonal Roam bus routes see: Roam Transit Schedule And Fares
Seasonal Roam Bus Routes
Lake Minnewanka – In the summer of 2017 the Roam Bus expanded it’s service to Lake Minnewanka. It will be a two year summer pilot program. The service runs 7 days a week from mid-May to mid-September. There’s a stop on Banff Avenue and additional stops along the route at campgrounds and popular day use areas.
Johnston Canyon – Service between the Banff train station and Johnston Canyon is offered daily from mid-May 18 through the first week of October.
Cave And Basin National Historic Site – From mid-May to mid-June service is offered on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Statutory holidays. Daily service is available from mid-June to mid-September.
A brochure with information on shuttle and transport options throughout Banff National Park can be picked up at one of the Parks Canada tourist offices in either Banff or Lake Louise when you arrive. Or a downloadabe PDF can be found here: Public Transit Banff National Park.
Free Summer And Fall Mount Norquay Shuttle
Mount Norquay offers complimentary transportation between downtown Banff, the Banff Park Lodge, the Juniper Hotel and the mountain. This gives guest access to the Sightseeing chairlift, the Via Ferrata, the Cliffhouse Bistro and hiking trails. For more information see: Norquay Summer shuttle service
Banff Sunshine Sightseeing Gondola Shuttle
The Sunshine Village shuttle operates between Banff and Sunshine Village Resort throughout the day. There are pickup spots convenient to all Banff hotels. The shuttle runs from the end of June through the third week of September. For more information see: Banff Sunshine Meadows
Banff Taxi Service
Taxis are a reasonably priced and an efficient option for getting around town. They can also organize custom sightseeing tours. These can be economical if you have a group of people to share the cost.
- Banff Taxi/Taxi Taxi 762-4444 or 762-0000
- Legion Taxi 403- 763-3353
Banff By Bicycle
It’s easy to get around the town of Banff by bicycle. There’s many popular biking trails including the Banff Legacy Trail. It’s a 26 km paved trail and roadway that spans the Bow Valley Parkway to the East Banff Gate. A bike trail route is available from Parks Canada. Pick up a brochure at one of the Parks Canada offices or find more information here: Where To Bicycle In Banff. Bike rental information can be found here: Banff/Lake Louise Bike Shops And Rentals.
Pedicabs are like a bicycle rickshaw. They have a person who pedals a passenger tricycle to get people to various places around town. They operate seasonally in the warmer summer months.
Pick up an drop off locations are available at the Fenlands Recreation Centre, Train Station, Canoe Docks on the Bow River, IGA Downtown Supermarket, Moose Hotel, Ptarmigan Inn, Elk & Avenue Hotel, Mt Royal Parking Lot, Banff Springs Hotel. Call or text 1-403-812-1667 with your name and pick-up time & location. https://banffpedicabs.com/
Banff Local Tours
Without your own vehicle there are some attractions that are not going to be accessible other than by booking a tour. Below are some tour company options you can try.
- Brewster Tours
- Discover Banff Tours
Getting Around Lake Louise
Walking Around Lake Louise
The village area of Lake Louise is very small and easy to get around on foot. The ski hill is close enough that you can walk to it from the village, but it is a bit of a trek with your ski gear.
The actual lake is located up a long, steep hill approximately 4km’s from the village. People do walk it, but it’s definitely a workout.
The good news is that once you arrive at Lake Louise there are several hiking trails that start right near the shores of the lake.
- Lake Agnes Tea House Trail
- Plain Of Six Glaciers Tea House Trail
- Fairview Lookout Trail
- Lakeshore Trail
Lake Louise Transportation
Lake Louise has limited transportation. There’s one taxi and a few seasonal operated shuttle services. Below are the various offerings.
Lake Louise Ski Transportation
A daily ski shuttle bus operates between Lake Louise hotels and Banff hotels and the ski resort during the winter skiing season. It also runs between Calgary, Canmore and the Lake Louise ski resort on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. More information here: Lake Louise Ski Transportation.
Free Shuttle To And From The Lake Louise Summer Gondola
This complimentary shuttle takes guests Lake Louise, the Samson Mall in the village of Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola. Additional shuttles run back and forth from the Lake Louise Overlow parking lot on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays. More information is available here: Lake Louise Gondola Shuttle.
Shuttles To The Lake Lousie Shore
Free daily shuttle service runs between the Lake Louise Overflow parking lot and the Lake Louise lakeshore. Shuttles will run daily from mid-May through the first week of October. More information here: Parks Canada Lake Louise Shuttle
Lake Louise Taxi Service
An option for getting between Lake Louise village and the lake is taking a taxi. It’s not always readily available and it’s expensive. Between the Lake and the village the fare is a set price per person, not by the meter. The last noted fare was $9 to $12 per person depending on the amount of people and the destination. Mountain Park Transportation (403) 522-522-2525 or (403) 522-2700
Summer Shuttle To Moraine Lake
A private Lake Louise company offers a shuttle from July through to approximately mid-September. The shuttle makes stops and pickups at the Sampson Mall, Campground and Deer Lodge. Pick ups upon request are available for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel. Due to the large demand during the peak season it’s strongly recommend calling or emailing us to reserve your seats. Information for fares, schedules and reservations are available here: Moraine Lake Shuttle.
Free Parks Canada Shuttle For The Larch Hiking Season
To help with the high volumes of traffic Parks Canada offers a free shuttle during the popular Larch Valley hiking season (Larch Valley is accessed from Moraine Lake) The shuttles fun from daily from approximately September 10th to October 8th. (see the Moraine Lake schedule for the current years dates an times) Parks Canada Shuttle Bus
Getting Around Canmore
Walking In Canmore
Downtown Canmore and the surrounding area is compact and easy to get around on foot. This is where tourists spend most of their time. The other section of Canmore sits across the highway and is mostly residential with some hiking and walking trails as well as a few restaurants and shops. The Cougar Creek underpass allows people to safely get from one side of the highway to the other on foot or bicycle.
Trails and walks within walking distance of downtown Canmore:
- Bow River Trail
- Canmore Creek Trail
- Three Sisters Pathway
- Larch Island
- Policeman Creek/Boardwalk Trail
- Palliser Pathway
- Benchlands Trail
- Silvertip Trail
Canmore Public Bus System
Canmore now has its own Public Roam bus service. It travels from downtown with stops at Elevation Place, the Seniors Lodge to Cougar Creek and out to Three Sisters. On weekends runs to the Canmore Nordic Centre. For the full schedule and more information see: Canmore Roam Transit Local Service
Canmore Taxi Service
There are a number of taxis in Canmore which for the most part are readily available and reasonable in price for getting to various areas around town.
- Canmore Cabs 403- 996-2229
- Cougar Creek Taxi 403 707-8772
Canmore By Bicycle And Rental Options
Getting around Canmore by bicycle is a viable option. There are a number of scenic areas to ride a bike, the Three Sisters Parkway being one of the most notable. In the non-winter months the cross country ski trails accessed from the Nordic Center become an excellent spot for mountain biking. Canmore Bicycle Rentals
Transportation Between Banff, Lake Louise And Canmore
- Brewster Bus has several runs a day between Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. It’s reliable and generally on time. The pick up/drop off in Canmore is at the Radisson Hotel at 511 Bow Valley Trail, in Banff the depot is located at 100 Gopher Street and in Lake Louise out front of Samson Mall in the village and near the entrance of the Fairmont Chateau Hotel near the lake. Tickets need to be purchased ahead of time either in person at a depot or online.
- Greyhound Bus – is cheaper than the Brewster Bus, but be it can be unreliable and late at times. The run coming from the west is particularly bad in the winter months. If it can’t get through the mountain passes due to heavy snow or an accident it re-routes south making it several hours late. The station in Banff is the same as the Brewster buses at 100 Gopher Street, in Canmore in front of the Canmore Tourism office at 907 7Ave. In Lake Louise it is at the front area of the Samson Mall in the village. The Greyhound bus does not go up to the lake. Tickets need to be purchased ahead of time online.
- The Roam Bus – A public bus transportation route has been implemented between Canmore and Banff. It runs 7 days and takes approximately 25 minutes. In peak hours the buses are every 30 minutes in peak morning and afternoon hours and every 60 minutes during the rest of the day. Canmore/Banff Roam Transit
- Shuttle Service – operated daily between the Banff Train Station and the lakeshore of Lake Louise with a quick stop at Samson Mall in the Village of Lake Louise. Service is offered daily from mid-May through the September Labour Day weekend.
- HopOnBanff operates a bus seasonally from the last week of May until early October. You can utilize their stops and schedule for hiking or sightseeing. They pick up and drop off in Banff, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise gondola, Lake Louise village (Sampson Mall), Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. For more information see: HoponBanff
Transportation Between The Calgary Airport/Downtown Calgary To Canmore, Banff And Lake Louise
Banff Airporter -Daily scheduled shuttles that run between the Calgary Airport and various downtown Calgary hotels to Canmore and Banff. Door to door transportation within the town of Banff and one pick up/drop off in Canmore. For more information see: Banff Airporter
Brewster Express -Daily departures from the Calgary dowtown and airport to Kanaskis, Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. You shouldn’t have a problem timing one of them with your flight arrival unless it is arriving very late in the evening. In this case you would have to overnight in Calgary. Banff Jasper Brewster Express
On-it Regional Transit – Offers seasonal transportation from Calgary to Canmore and Banff. The service runs on weekends and holidays from mid-May to early September. More info here: Onit Regional Transit Calgary Banff Service
Getting Around The Icefields Parkway
There is no public transportation for the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93N) runs from Lake Louise north to Jasper. You can book a tour from one of the local companies such as Brewster or Sundog Tours.
Getting Around Jasper
Walking In Jasper
The town site of Jasper is navigable by foot, it spans a few kilometers with a central downtown. Many of the accommodation options are within easy walking distance of the shops and restaurants. Make a stop at the Jasper Information center to pick up a brochure and map to get orientated with the town and it’s attractions. The only way to get to some of the trails and attractions such as Maligne Canyon and Miette Hotsprings is to book a tour or hire a taxi. Jasper does not have a public transportation system. The Discovery Trail wraps around the perimeter of the Jasper townsite and makes for a nice way to explore some of the surrounding nature on foot. It can be accessed from several points around town.
Shuttles To Jasper Attractions
- When the Maligne Lake boat tours are operating from May until early October they offer a shuttle from town out to the lake.
- The Jasper Tramway also offers a shuttle to and from town.
Jasper Taxi Service
There are taxis that are readily available and fairly reasonably priced to take you to different areas around town. They may be cost effective to organize a custom tour if several people are sharing the cost.
Jasper By Bicycle And Rental Options
Biking Jasper and the surrounding area is a viable option, there are several bike trails connected to the town site and many road riding options as well. There are plenty of low grade or flat areas, which make biking a great way to explore.
Bike rentals are available at:
- Source For Sports
- Freewheel Cycle
- Pyramid Lake Resort
- Vicious Cycle
Jasper Local Tours
- Sundog Tours
- The Jasper Tour Company
Getting To Jasper From Calgary, Banff Or Lake Louise
There is no public bus transportation to get to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. The options would be to book through Brewster or Sundog Tours. The Brewster bus runs to Jasper from May 1st to mid-October. The Sundog Tours operate from mid-October to May and they also provide service from the Edmonton Airport and West Edmonton Mall to Jasper.
The Greyhound Bus does not travel on the Icefields Parkway. It is available to board in Lake Louise and Banff where it backtracks to Calgary, then north to Edmonton and onwards to Jasper. It is a long eleven hour journey.