Tip: Johnston Canyon Trail in Banff National Park

It is well known that the best time to go to top attractions is in the early morning before the zombie tourist hordes arrive and the lines get long and smelly.

I think Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park is an exception to this rule.

A visit to Johnston Canyon Trail is worth it, even in the peak afternoon hours, despite its popularity.


As a traveler, I know I can’t see every popular destination in the morning.  I have to pick and choose.

I needed to dedicate my morning time slot to Banff’s Sulphur Mountain Gondola.  Johnston Canyon Trail would have to be in the afternoon.

It was a great choice to do the Banff gondola in the morning and the just-as-popular Johnston Canyon in the afternoon.  The lines at Banff Gondola were almost non-existent in the early morning and we had a gondola to ourselves.

Johnston Canyon Trail in Banff National Park has a lot to like.  It is close by (18km from Banff townsite), easy to hike (well worn walkway, takes an hour to get to 2nd waterfall) and very scenic (waterfall and river views).

Johnston Canyon also has enough room to handle the volume of visitors – the exception being the parking.  Unlike other attractions, there are no admission lines.  Just get out of your car and start walking.  Everyone is spread out.  It is an enjoyable experience absent of the “sardines in a can” feeling.

As you can see from the picture below, when I got there mid-afternoon, the parking lot was full and lots of cars had to park on the street.  It was still worth going to in the afternoon.  Even though we parked in the road, it was only a short walk to the path.  The trail wasn’t as crowded as the amount of cars park on the road would seem to indicate.

Parking lot full at Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

So if you see cars in the road at Johnston Canyon like pictured, do not despair.  Hike and enjoy.

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1 comment to Tip: Johnston Canyon Trail in Banff National Park

  • Michelle

    I would like to know what time of year you went to the canyon. We are going to Banff in early June this year and hope to not be overrun by crowds.

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