Have you been to Banff National Park yet? If not, it will blow your mind! Johnston Canyon Alberta is about 2 hours from Calgary, but even the drive there is easy and scenic.
Johnston Canyon Hike – The Best Hike In Banff, Alberta Canada
Banff features beautiful views and hikes for days. Our absolute favorite hike in Banff is Johnston Canyon. It is also one of the most popular due to its simplicity and location near the front (Calgary side) of the park.
You really can’t miss this! This hike is the perfect mix of fun and challenging. Depending on the level of challenge you’re up for, you can make the hike appropriate for a beginner (my style), or you can extend the hike into a bigger adventure.
Johnston Canyon Trail Cost
You have to pay for admission to Banff National Park (about $20 CAD), but pulling into Johnston Canyon, you’ll find the parking lot is free, and so is the hike, with bathrooms available.
The trail itself is very well marked, expertly built on the side of canyon walls. That may sound a little scary, but there are a lot of walkways with plenty of places to overlook.
Even with crowds, you’ll have great opportunities to take in the 3 main highlights of the national park – Johnston Canyon Lower Falls, Johnston Canyon Upper Falls, Johnston Canyon Ink Pots.
Even though there are three main things to see, it is one main trail that you simply keep going down if you want to see more. The first attraction is the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls, then the Johnston Canyon Upper Falls, then Johnston Canyon Ink Pots.
Incredible Banff Waterfalls
Johnston Canyon Lower Falls
If you’re interested in hitting up all three spots, make sure you have time for a longer hike. First, along the Johnston Canyon Trail are the Lower Falls. After starting out on the trail, the Lower Falls are about a 30 minute hike in, or about ¾ mile/1.1 km.
This is a hike appropriate for all ages and a wide range of abilities. This hike winds through a shaded canyon and along a running creek. It’s also a nice way to cool off in the middle of the summer.
A charming bridge crosses directly in front of the waterfall in full-force spray, and there’s a fun cave you can duck into that brings you out directly in front of the falls where you will get wet. You can learn more about the Lower Falls in our post here.
More Banff Waterfalls – Johnston Canyon Upper Falls
After Lower Falls, you have the option to turn around and head back to the parking lot. Many people do!
If you’re up for more of a workout, though, the Upper Falls are worth the walk. The Upper Falls makes your hike a total of 1.5 miles/2.6 km. Things get steeper after passing Lower Falls. If you’re worried about that, you can always start out the hike and decide if you want to keep going.
Once you get there, you’ll get to enjoy the bigger of the two waterfalls with two great viewing spots!
Johnston Canyon Ink Pots
The third stop on Johnston Canyon Trail is not actually a waterfall like many people think. The Ink Pots are seven pools of green-colored mineral springs located in an open, gorgeous meadow. Being the furthest of the three Banff highlights, the total distance for the Ink Pots is about 4 miles/6 km each way.
The Best Johnston Canyon Alberta Tips you will find
Because of its popularity and proximity to the entrance, Johnston Canyon can get crowded. To avoid the crowd, go early in the morning, or later in the day.
Remember, that the sun sets late in the Canadian summer, so even if you start at 6 PM you will have plenty of sunlight. We started at 6 PM and had the place almost to ourselves even on a Saturday in July.
What is the Johnston Canyon Winter Like?
Banff is a vacation spot that’s getting so popular it can get really crowded. Crowds always makes things a little less enjoyable.
If you are one who can take cold weather, consider going in the winter. There will be WAY less crowds, and a completely unique frozen look. Is ice climbing your thing? If so, you can climb up the waterfalls.
We hope you get a chance to enjoy one of our favorite spots in Canada. A beautiful hike, waterfalls, and a sunset, should be just what the doctor ordered.