Here's how to responsibly visit Banff National Park this summer

Jun 11 2020, 11:22 am

Banff National Park is back open for business.

The business of being a beautiful chunk of nature that Albertans can retreat to when the world feels a little overwhelming — something that has been sorely missed over the past few months.

A release from Banff and Lake Louise Tourism announced that services in Banff National Park have been gradually reopening as of June 1, with visitors being welcomed to the town and its surrounding beauty.

According to the release, the Bow Valley Parkway has been closed to vehicle traffic, allowing hikers and cyclists quite the opportunity to enjoy the winding, scenic road connecting Banff and Lake Louise without worrying about incoming cars.

“The health and safety of people is the number one priority. The measures being put in place to protect people will also mean there are some unique opportunities to experience the park this year – in the way of hiking, walking, cycling, and so many others,” said Leslie Bruce, CEO, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, in the release.

“This is a great chance for Albertans to access the Park in another way than they may be used to.”

A lane of the Lake Minnewanka Loop will also be set aside for cyclists once safety measures are in place, and a portion of Banff Avenue has been closed to traffic to allow more space for pedestrians to walk while maintaining a safe physical distance from one another.

This closure will span the 100 to 200 block of Banff Avenue and will remain in place from now until September 11.

“Banff Avenue hasn’t closed to vehicles for more than a day or two since 2008, and that’s only been the case for some annual special events,” said Bruce in the release.

“This is the first time it will be pedestrianized for a long period of time in 12 years. We are excited to welcome people in this way and allow for plenty of space to protect public safety through physical distancing.”

The release noted that Johnson Canyon Trail remains open to hikers only, as the trailhead is no longer accessible by vehicle.

Those who are hoping to enjoy all that Banff National Park has to offer this spring and summer are encouraged to plan ahead, given that parking is limited and trails are, as always, expected to be quite popular.

Banff and Lake Louise Tourism provided the following tips in their release for would-be adventurers:

  • Now that services have resumed in the Park, visitors require a park pass. Starting on June 4, visitors can purchase their pass online from Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. The Parks Canada Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year to Banff National Park and over 80 other Parks Canada places across the country.
  • Parking in designated areas in the Park is highly recommended. Visitors can enjoy free full day parking at the Banff Train Station, Fenlands Recreation Centre, Bear Street Parkade, and Central Park, all within minutes of walking to downtown.
  • If you’re planning to bike the Bow Valley Parkway or Lake Minnewanka loop, it’s best to park in town at the Banff Train Station or the Fenlands parking Lot.
  • Many businesses are open but may be operating differently. Call ahead or check the business’ website before arriving and consult Alberta Health Services guidelines about travelling.
  • Be self-sustainable and bring a COVID-19 kit of hand sanitizer, water, and supplies, as fewer services are available than normal.
  • While some of the restrictions and closures implemented in the Park to date as a result of COVID-19 have been lifted, others will remain in effect at this time. See what’s open and closed here.

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