Where to stay in Banff National Park

Where are the best places to stay in Banff National Park?

By Melanie Sylvain. October 12, 2022

Attracting over 4 million visitors per year, Banff National Park is truly a Canadian treasure. It's located in the province of Alberta and sits right in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. People come here from all over the world to gaze at the Rocky Mountains peaks, the turquoise glacial lakes, and the abundant wildlife. Visitors can enjoy mountain towns, scenic drives, and endless outdoor adventures all year round on this UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Located only an hour away from Alberta's Capital City, Calgary, Banff is very well-connected. This lively mountain village gives you the easiest access to the entire park and countless day trips. Lake Louise and Castle Junction are quieter locations to stay within the park and are about 30 minutes away from Banff.


Because staying in the park can be overwhelming by crowds and have limited accommodation options, here are some great alternatives; Only 20 minutes away from Banff, Canmore is well-connected and has a more settled environment. About 2 hours away from Banff on the way to Vancouver, Golden provides easy access to several National Parks and great accommodations with barely any tourists. Lastly, located at the end of the Icefield Parkway scenic drive, Jasper offers a more laid-back atmosphere and greater contact with nature.

Hotel   Avg price
Falcon Crest Lodge by CLIQUE
179€ - 195$
Hotel   Avg price
Banff National Park Wood lodge
Harvie Heights
200€ - 218$
Hotel   Avg price
Rimrock Resort Hotel
259€ - 282$
Fairmont Banff Springs
509€ - 555$



If you're interested in finding out where to stay in Banff National Park, you may also want to know where to stay in Whistler or where to stay in Vancouver.



Best places to stay in Banff National Park




Within the Park



BanffBanff is a bustling little town where all the action happens. Although Banff has a population of 8000 residents, with so many tourists, it almost feels like a big city, but without buildings and surrounded by wilderness. It has the best access to all sights and attractions around the National Park. With a wide variety of services and accommodations, there are options for all budgets and preferences.


There's a vibrant nightlife, lots of name-brand stores and restaurants, souvenir shops, and basically, any indoor activities cities offer. It also gives you easy access to tons of outdoor activities for all experience levels. The town is overlooked by mountains, some of which are within walking distance from downtown, where you can hike or bike. During the winter, Banff becomes a skiers' paradise with its 3 Ski Resorts. On the west side flows the Bow River where you can practice river-based activities, except swimming because the water coming from glaciers is terribly cold.



Accommodation in Banff




Lake Louise


Within the Park



Lake LousieThis tiny town is famous for its magnificent lake overlooked by the Fairmont Hotel. Although there are only a few hundred residents, Lake Louise attracts over 15 000 visitors daily, but if you don't stay by the Lake, you won't be too overwhelmed. Besides the classics of canoeing on Lake Louise and riding the Gondola, there are plenty of hiking trails and other gorgeous lakes to see around such as Lake Moraine and Lake Agnes.


Lake Louise is an ideal destination for ski enthusiasts as it has one of the top Ski Resorts in Canada. The town offers an amazing variety of restaurants for its tiny size and again, the Bow River allows fun water activities. In terms of services, Lake Louise has the bare minimum. There are no pharmacies, commercial stores, or grocery stores, so you need to run errands in Banff, which is 40 minutes away. Accommodation options are also limited as most people live in the Fairmont staff residence.



Accommodation in Lake Louise




Castle Junction


Within the Park



Castle JunctionCastle Junction is the place to be if you want to stay close to all the services but away from crowds. It's located 25 minutes north of Banff, thus it's the perfect spot for people who want to take advantage of what the lively town has to offer, but also enjoy some peace and quiet. This locality offers very limited services, so anyone staying there must run errands in Banff. As for accommodation, be ready to make one with nature and dive into the cabin or camper lifestyle.


Around Castle Junction area, there are miles of cross-country skiing trails in the winter and cycling trails in the summer. The scenic route that connects Castle Junction to Banff is simply breathtaking! You can contemplate it riding down the Bow Valley Parkway or on the Bow River. This part of the river offers some class 2 rapids which are ideal for intermediate kayaking, rafting, canoeing or even paddle boarding.



Accommodation in Castle Junction






Outside the Park / 20-min drive



CanmoreCanmore is Banff's quieter big sister. Although it's twice the size of Banff, it has a smaller selection of services and indoor options. Nevertheless, there's a recreation center, Elevation Place, and many shops, restaurants, and museums. On the other hand, it does offer a better selection of accommodations for long-term stays and is better in value. The main street is the heart of the art community where you can appreciate art galleries, live music venues and local theatre performances.


From downtown, you have easy access to Policeman's Creek Boardwalk and the Bow River for river-based activities. Because it's right outside the gates of the National Park, there's no need for a pass, so it does make life a bit easier for people staying in Canmore. Although not within a walking distance but still close by, Canmore offers many great hikes outside of town. You’ll also find more golf courses and bike mountain trails in Canmore compared to Banff.



Accommodation in Canmore






Outside the Park / 2-hr drive



GoldenGolden is a growing mountain town sitting at the heart of 6 National Parks, giving countless day trips opportunities. Golden is as big as Jasper, but without the crowds, so it's the ideal place to settle down for people in search of the great Canadian wilderness. With its world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking river, and significant biodiversity, thanks to the Columbia Wetlands, Golden is a paradise for hard-core adventurers, but it suits any outdoor lover levels.


In addition, it's not located inside a National Park, which means there're fewer restrictions. Hence, motor activities are allowed; in fact, all the tours offered in Banff National Park starts in Golden. There's also no need for a park pass or to work in the park. Since it's a hidden gem, the town offers all types of accommodation for a cheaper price and all the services its multicultural community might need.



Accommodation in Golden






Outside the Park / 3-hr drive



JasperThe geographic situation of Jasper is less accessible than Banff; it’s a 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Edmonton and the North entrance (Banff), which makes it less crowded, but equally beautiful. Jasper is a quaint little town with about 4000 residents and offers a good range of services that covers everyone's needs. It has a rustic charm and a laid-back atmosphere, with more local businesses and older buildings. It does however offer limited accommodation options which makes the pricing higher. No public transportation is available in Jasper, so you need a vehicle. Jasper features the hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies: The Miette Hot Springs.


Although it has fewer hiking trail options than Banff, Jasper has an amazing playground for outdoor activities including Marmot Basin Ski Resort, several lakes and hikes, and the Athabasca River. With its Dark Sky Preserve and fewer crowds, Jasper is the perfect place to contemplate the Milky Way and more active wildlife.



Accommodation in Jasper



Melanie SylvainMelanie Sylvain

A passionate travel writer, curates captivating content on Instagram and TikTok (@MadameTrotteuse). A seasoned digital nomad, her extensive global explorations, combined with seven years of experience as a travel agent, make her a valuable resource for travel enthusiasts. Among many of the places where he has lived, Banff has been one of his favorites.