The Bow Valley Parkway
Banff National Park
The Bow Valley Parkway is a scenic winding route between Banff and Lake Louise, and a quieter alternative to the Trans-Canada Highway. This 48-kilometer paved road has roadside pull-offs, picnic areas and scenic views.
New! Bow Valley Parkway Cycling Experience 3-Year Pilot
Cycling on the Bow Valley Parkway is a favourite activity for many avid road cyclists. During a three-year pilot program from 2022 to 2024, Parks Canada is providing an improved cycling experience by restricting vehicle use along the 17 km eastern section of the parkway in the spring and fall. Parks Canada will monitor results of this pilot to guide future planning and decisions.
Spring: May 1 to June 25, 2023, between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.*
Fall: September 1 to October 2, 2023
17 km eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway between Fireside Day-use Area and Johnston Canyon.
Visitors planning to use the Bow Valley Parkway should park their vehicles at the Banff Train Station parking lot accessible via the Mount Norquay Road entrance to the townsite.
Frequently asked questions
What facilities exist along the roadways (toilets, garbage etc.)?
Visitors must be prepared for their experience and bring sufficient food and water, appropriate clothing, gear for variable weather and bike repair tools.
- Garbage: Protect the environment and wildlife by using the bins provided or by packing out all garbage and recycling.
- Toilets and day-use areas are available along the roads.
- Cell phone coverage: Cell coverage is generally available along the roads, but there are areas of low or no coverage. Be prepared to be self-sufficient in case of injury or equipment failure. Know how to repair your bike and carry the tools and parts to do so.
- Where to lock your bike: Bike racks are available at the Johnston Canyon Day-use Area. Make sure to bring your own lock.
During the cycling experience, can the road be used for other travel types, like walking or inline skating?
However, the road is narrow and some vehicles (e.g. vehicles used by utility operators or for Parks Canada operations) will continue to be active on the road.
Are e-bikes allowed on the Bow Valley Parkway?
E-bikes are permitted on the Bow Valley Parkway, as well as the Banff Legacy Trail, which can be used to access the Bow Valley Parkway from the Town of Banff.
E-bikes are prohibited on most trails in Banff National Park with some exceptions.
Where can I rent a bike in Banff National Park?
How can visitors stay safe when cycling and using the restricted road?
Visitors are responsible for their own safety. Visitors should be prepared for their trip, be familiar with all road safety guidelines, and be ready for a breakdown or accident and know how to repair their bike and carry the necessary tools and parts.
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of everyone’s experience by sharing the road. Some vehicle traffic (e.g. vehicles used by utility operators or for Parks Canada operations) will occur on the Bow Valley Parkway. To ensure safety, visitors should be aware of their surroundings, expect to see service vehicles, and follow the rules of the road while recreating in Banff National Park.
How can visitors respect wildlife while cycling on the Bow Valley Parkway?
Be aware - Banff National Park is home to many types of wildlife, including elk, wolves, cougars, and the remaining grizzly and black bear populations in North America. To successfully raise their young and sustain a healthy population, wildlife need access to as much quality habitat with as few human surprises as possible. Give them space for your safety and their survival.
What should a visitor do if they encounter wildlife while cycling?
Visitor should always be aware of possible encounters with wildlife, even on roads and paved trails.
Cyclists are particularly susceptible to sudden, dangerous bear encounters because of the speed and silence of their travel. Visitors must stay alert, travel in groups when possible, make noise, slow down, look ahead and always carry bear spray and know how to use it. Additionally, the use of ear buds/ear phones while cycling or hiking is not recommended.
Visitors are responsible for their own safety. Learn how to stay safe when you encounter wildlife.
If you see a large carnivore, such as a bear, cougar, wolf or coyote, please report the sighting (when it is safe to do so) by calling Banff Emergency Dispatch at 1-403-762-1470.
How will the Cycling Experience impact wildlife?
Vehicle restrictions reduce disturbance to wildlife. The eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway travels through the montane, a small but important area of the park for wildlife. This is the first area in the park to be snow-free and to ‘green up’, so it is especially important in the spring as it provides animals like grizzly bears and wolves with much needed food and a place to raise their young when the rest of the park is still snowbound. These same animals are also sensitive to the presence of people, particularly between dusk and dawn when their natural activity is highest.
Bow Valley Parkway mandatory seasonal travel restriction
As part of the existing annual seasonal travel restriction on the Bow Valley Parkway that runs from March 1 through to June 25, all travel, including people cycling and hiking, will only be permitted between 8 am and 8 pm.
From March 1st to June 25th, travel is not permitted between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the 17-kilometre section of the parkway from Johnston Canyon Campground to the Fireside Picnic Area.
This is to ensure the area remains a high quality home for wildlife. The eastern portion of the Bow Valley Parkway travels through a small but vital part of the park, called the montane, that provides critical habitat for large carnivores, including wolves, cougars and bears.
Protecting wildlife is the foundation of a great visitor experience and sustainable future for Banff National Park. This mandatory travel restriction will allow sensitive wildlife to move unimpeded across the landscape, use high-quality habitat, and engage in normal behaviour. It is part of a larger action plan to ensure the ecologically and culturally rich Bow Valley Parkway area continues as a world-class setting for visitors to learn about and experience the park, and as a safe and secure environment for wildlife.
All businesses and commercial accommodations remain open during this mandatory travel restriction and are easily accessible by driving the Trans-Canada Highway and exiting at Castle Junction.
Did you know that the Bow Valley Parkway was the original road linking Banff and Lake Louise in the early 1900s?
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