Awesome Alberta: Warm up to winter at Johnston Canyon

Nov 9 2020, 11:00 am

COVID-19 still presents a very real and dangerous threat to public health. While much of Alberta’s outdoors have been reopened to visitors, it is recommended to plan ahead, check local restrictions and current public health measures, and avoid any areas that may be too crowded. 

As one of Banff National Park’s most accessible areas, it’s no surprise that Johnston Canyon is popular with locals and tourists alike.

While the cascading waters and lush greenery surrounding the area is a beautiful sight, there’s just something special about the canyon during the wintertime, when the waters freeze and the air is crisp. Time seems to stand still.

Not to mention just how awesome literally climbing up a frozen waterfall can be… for those with the experience, gear, and know-how, that is!

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from and AdventureSmart. Parks Canada visitor guidelines are available here. Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife — and please note that irresponsibly taken selfies (even if they look great for the ‘gram) can be fatal

Where is it?

Located in the Rocky Mountains just west of Banff, Johnston Canyon feels as though it’s deep in the Canadian wilderness – while really being just a short walk away from the parking lot.

How do you get there?

From Calgary, your best bet is to take Highway One west until you reach Banff, then to continue on for another half an hour or so. Once you’re past Banff, just look for signs pointing towards the Johnston Canyon Camp Grounds, and the hiking area will be off to the right. The entire drive will take you just under two hours.

Those driving from Edmonton will need to make the three-hour trip south to Calgary and then following the instructions from there.

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What’s there?

Depending on the time of year, there’s likely going to be people… and there’s not really any getting around the crowds for such a popular spot. The best time to check out Johnston Canyon in relative seclusion would be during the autumn and spring months, but there’s a reason it’s such a busy place during winter and summer.

The cascading waterfall freezes over in the winter, allowing adventurers to try their hand at ice climbing to the cliff’s top. A man-made walkway through the canyon supplies support and handrails so almost anyone can enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

And you’ll get a few solid ‘grams out of a trip out here, that’s basically a guarantee.

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