Johnston Canyon Holidays

Embark on a dramatic walk above Johnston Creek to get to this canyon's spectacular waterfalls.

Banff's Johnston Canyon is famous for its impressive falls and spring water pools. Steel catwalks anchored to the sheer face of the canyon make this a thrilling but manageable hike, and one of the most popular trails in Banff National Park.

From Banff, it's just a 25-kilometre drive to the resort, camping ground and car park at the start of the trail. If you're here in summer, it's best to come very early or late in the afternoon, as the canyon can get extremely busy. However, be sure to leave enough time to finish your walk by dusk; the hike to the Upper Falls is about two hours there and back.

The trail is 2.7-kilometres long and takes in the canyon's two main attractions: Johnston Creek's Upper and Lower Falls. You'll pass under rocky overhangs and over thundering torrents on your way. Keep your camera ready at all times, as the striking landscape of the canyon makes for great photos.

After 1.1 kilometres you'll see the Lower Falls come into view. The bridge that spans the creek is the best place from which to admire the cascading water. For a closer (but wetter) view, continue on through the tunnel that has been bored into the canyon face.

Not everyone tackles the additional 1.6 kilometres to the Upper Falls, but the magnificent 30-metre waterfall is a handsome reward for your efforts. If you decide to visit in winter to see the spectacle of the frozen falls, take care on this section as it may be icy underfoot and can be treacherous. In summer, the volume of water crashing over the Upper Falls is astounding. Take it all in from the viewing platforms at the base and top of the falls.

If you've got energy to spare, head on up to the Ink Pots. At 3 kilometres beyond the Upper Falls, it's a trickier hike, but your incentive is a meadow enclosed by mountains and dotted with attractive blue pools of cold spring water.

Entry to Johnston Canyon is free, as is the car park, but spaces are snapped up quickly. Take the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) northwest from Banff and you'll be there in 30 minutes.

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