Johnston Canyon – Banff National Park
This year (2020) hiking Johnston Canyon is a little different! Highway 1A is closed to vehicles unless you have a reservation at the Johnston Canyon Restaurant which means you have to walk or bike to the trailhead from Castle Junction. The parking lots at castle junction can fill up very quickly, especially on weekends so make sure to get there early or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
As always, make sure you dress appropriately and be ready for anything the outdoors can throw at you. Weather can be unpredictable and change at any minute. Respect the wildlife by staying at appropriate distances and stay on the trails in order to preserve the forest! For more information on each hike you can check them out on AllTrails.
The walk from Castle Junction to the Johnston Canyon trailhead is just over 6km. Parks Canada quotes that it takes roughly an hour and a half to get there, so you should plan for an extra 3 hours of walking in your day to get there and back. You can also bike the road, which wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes! Even though its a bit of a pain in the ass to walk on the road, it gives you a ton of great chances to see some wildlife. You walk right passed Moose Meadows which offers a great chance to see some wildlife!
Right from the beginning, you walk through a massive canyon that has been eroded for thousands of years by the creek. The first waterfall you come to is the lower falls. Walking through the tunnel to get greeted by the mist of the falls is such a rush! If you are lucky enough to be there on a day that isn’t busy definitely spend some time there!
Once you have gotten your fill of the lower falls, keep trecking upwards towards the upper falls. There is a platform you can stand on near the bottom. This does tend to bottle neck as there is only one way in and out from that area, so again, I recommend going early or later at night.
You can also view the upper falls from above! Head towards the Ink Pots and get a view looking down on the falls!
Johnston Canyon will always be one of my favourite spots to visit in Banff National Park. Whether you visit in the summer or the winter, you will not be disappointed!
Make sure to bring your bike or roller blades to make that long road walk go by quick!
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