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7 Family Friendly Drives in Banff

On The Road Again – Many activities come to mind once the warmer weather arrives after the lull of winter. BBQ’s, camping, hiking and of course, just getting out onto the open road. With the snow melting and the ice thawing, many of the roads around Banff national park which are closed during winter are now opening up and it’s time to make use of them once again.

There is something about rolling the windows down, playing your favorite music and letting the fresh air invigorate you as you take in the majestic beauty of the mountains. So here is our Top 7 Family Friendly Drives. We’ve rated them on distance, wow factor and kid friendly, because after all, we know what phrase we often hear during car journey’s!

Tunnel MountainTunnel Mt. Drive

  • Distance: 9 km
  • Wow Factor – 3/5        
  • Kid Friendly 5/5 thumbs up

Starting from the Douglas Fir Resort, you drive the short distance round to the other side of Tunnel Mt. A simple yet impressive route, with fantastic views along the way and on the other side with will reach the aptly named ‘Surprise Corner’ because of the impressive view when you least expect it! You can also park up and take it in once you reach the other side.

Vermilion Lakes

  • Distance – 4.5km
  • Wow Factor – 3/5
  • Kid Friendly – 4/5 thumbs up

This drive is less than 2 minutes outside of Banff. It takes you alongside some of the lakes that are the essence of the Rockies, and so close to home. This drive is especially great in spring as the lakes are teaming with wildlife such as beavers, bighorn sheep, muskrats, Canada geese and bald eagles. Take the binoculars for some wildlife spotting.

Norquay Landing

  • Distance – 6.4km     
  • Wow Factor – 4/5
  • Kid Friendly –  3/5 thumbs up

Another drive that’s close to home, described as being in Banff’s backyard with access to the road 2 minutes outside of town. This winding road takes you up to where Norquay ski hill is based during the winter months. Wildlife is often seen grazing along this road and you are treated to an impressive view at Norquay landing when you reach the top. Take a picnic once you get there and take in the view.

Sunshine Road

  • Distance – 9km
  • Wow Factor –  4/5
  • Kid Friendly  – 3/5 thumbs up

Accessible from the Trans Canada Highway after approximately 10minutes driving, as you head out towards Lake Louise, the Sunshine Road is another ski hill route. Enjoy the scenery as you are nestled in-between the rugged mountains and take time to stop along the way. Look out for the Healy Creek rest point to take in the atmosphere or even head out on one of the many hiking trails along the way.

Bow Valley Parkway

  •  Distance – 18km
  • Wow Factor –– 4/5
  • Kid Friendly – 3/5 thumbs up

 Another route to Lake Louise, but without the hustle and bustle of the highway! The parkway starts at an intersection on the Trans-Canada Highway 5.5 km west of the Norquay overpass and winds its way through the mountains for scenery that is good for the soul. Lookout for landmarks such as Hillsdale Meadows, Johnston Canyon, Castle Mountain, Baker Creek along with numerous other look out points.

Big Horn SheepLake Minnewanka Loop

  • Distance – 19km
  • Wow Factor – 4/5
  • Kid Friendly – 5/5 thumbs up

Not only great for a drive, but one of the best places for a picnic and a day out. It is a short distance from Banff and takes you on the full loop of Lake Minnewanka. Not to mention Cascade Ponds, Lower Bankhead and Upper Bankhead, sites of the old coal mining community that is now an area with shelter and picnic tables in an open meadow! You can also go boating on the lake, fishing and camping. Two Jack Lane is also a stone’s throw from Lake Minnewanka, another great site.

lake-202153_1280Moraine Lake

  • Distance  – 65km  
  • Wow Factor – 5/5           
  • Kid Friendly  4/5 thumbs up

Last but definitely not least on the list. Moraine Lake boasts some of the most breathtaking views in the area. Accessible on a road close to Chateau Lake Louise, the drive is exceptional and the scenery is breath taking. A common feature on many postcards, Moraine Lake is well worth the trip.

 Pack up a picnic and take in the magestic beauty of the Rockies.

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