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Our Annual Reminder to Bike (or Rollerblade, or Scoot) the Bow Valley Parkway
The three-year pilot continues with a Sept. 1 to Oct. 1 vehicle closure
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If you missed the opportunity to bike (or rollerblade, or scoot) on the Bow Valley Parkway this spring (it was closed to vehicles from May 1 to June 25), you have 31 more days to give it a spin. A total of 17 kilometres of the scenic secondary highway between Banff and Lake Louise will be closed to vehicles beginning this Friday, September 1 and going until October 1.
We highly recommend a visit!
Below, we’ve got details and pictures for you from our 2022 and 2020 newsletters on this route. Parks Canada also has a Frequently Asked Questions section on the Parkway cycling experience, which you can read here.
The route was first closed to cars during the early days of COVID-19 and, last summer, Parks Canada launched a three-year pilot program that closes the road to cars (thus opening it up to people!) in the spring and fall. We’ve both biked the Parkway several times since 2020 and loved it.
Annalise recommends parking at the free Train Station Public Parking in Banff. Then, cross the crosswalk by Fenlands Rec Centre/the Banff sign and you’re on the trail to Vermillion Lakes. Continue to follow Vermillion Lakes Road (note there are a few cars on this portion) for about 7 km and you’ll eventually hit the East Gate welcome signs for the Parkway.
Johnston Canyon is 17 km from the East Gate, meaning if you park in Banff, bike to Johnston Canyon and bike back, you’re looking at about a 48 km trip. It took Annalise’s group of four adults plus baby in a bike trailer about two hours to get to Johnston Canyon (going at a fairly leisurely pace, stopping for a long snack break after the big hill) last year, and then about 80 minutes to get back to the parking lot in Banff. (It’s more downhill on the return trip.)
At Johnston Canyon, there’s a cafe (ice cream!) and a restaurant, and you’ve got a couple of hiking options if you’re looking for a longer outing.
You can also continue on to the Ink Pots trail for an even longer hike, which we detailed in a 2020 newsletter.
Whether you hike and bike, or just bike, or scoot or rollerblade or wheel however you want, the Bow Valley Parkway is a truly beautiful route.
It’s refreshing (and let’s be real, super heartwarming) to see so many people of different ages and abilities enjoying the stunning scenery while getting exercise.
Every time we’ve biked this route we’ve marveled at the tiny legs on balance bikes and are excited that this may be the year our own little ones give it a try.
Prepping for the Bow Valley Parkway
If you don’t have a bike, bikes and E-bikes can be rented right in Banff (meaning no need for a vehicle bike rack) and are very popular on the trail.
If you do go, give our Bow Valley Parkway Bingo card a try, share it with your pals and let us know how you fare!
⛰️🥾️ Go Outside is written by Annalise & Cailynn — writers, outdoor enthusiasts and sisters who’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood and continue to be happiest outside.
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