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A Guide to Having the Best Time at Cascade Ponds

A Guide to Having the Best Time at Cascade Ponds

Ah, Cascade Ponds, a mesmerizing beauty. It’s one of the best places for families to explore in Alberta, complete with stunning mountain views, chirping birds, and shallow waters—always picturesque, no matter the season.

If you’re visiting Banff, you cannot miss this gorgeous spot. Check our friendly guide on what to do in Cascade Ponds, complete with places to stay, activities to do, and eateries to satisfy your hunger.

Best Time to Go

Cascade Ponds is open year-round, so you can visit any time you want. But the best months are from June to October, around summertime to fall, because the area is ideal for picnics, and kids can swim or paddle in the shallow waters.

Since summertime is peak season, it’s best to go early in the morning. There are picnic tables, so being an early bird can secure you and your group a perfect spot before the crowds arrive.

Winter is also magical at the ponds if you prefer chilly picnic days. The vast area will turn into a winter wonderland, perfect for building snowmen, winter hikes, and ice skating on the frozen pond—time for hockey, eh?

Things to Know


Location: Improvement District No. 9, AB, Canada

Entrance Fee: Yes (Banff National Park Entrance Fee)

   Day Pass

  • Adult – $10.50
  • Senior – $9.00
  • Youth – Free
  • Family/Group – $21.00
  • Commercial Group, per person – $9.00

   Parks Canada Discovery Pass

  • Adult – $72.25
  • Senior – $61.75
  • Family/Group – $145.25

Parking: Yes (limited in the summer)

Pet-friendly: Yes (must be on leash at all times)

Amenities: Picnic tables, picnic shelters, fire pits, public restrooms

How to Get Around

tilt shift photography of side mirror reflecting snow capped mountain
Photo by Jack Hodges on Unsplash

Driving is the easiest way to get to Cascade Ponds, as it’s right along the TransCanada Highway. Drive along the road going to Banff, as it’s just a short drive from the town of Banff—if you find yourself surrounded by shops, then you already missed it.

If you’re driving from Banff Town, go north of Banff Avenue towards the highway. Proceed along Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive and make a right once you spot the Cascade Ponds signs.

If you aren’t from Alberta, many visitors fly to Calgary International Airport or Edmonton International Airport and drive from there. There are also plenty of car rental companies at the airports if you don’t have a vehicle.

Cascade Ponds is minutes away from Banff Town, a popular tourist spot attracting over 4 million visitors a year. Hence, there are going to be shuttles available to take you to the area since the closest airport is more than an hour away.

One that will take you to the ponds is the Roam Public Transit Route 6, which runs every day from May to October. It drives from the town, so you can alight at Cascade Ponds—it also stops at Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, and Johnson Lake.

You can also take a shuttle from Calgary International Airport or Edmonton International Airport to Banff. From there, you can ride the Roam Transit and get off at the Cascade Ponds stop.

What to Do in Cascade Ponds

Cascade Ponds offers many family-friendly activities—and yes, that includes your furry companions! Here’s a list of what the entire family can do here!

Here’s a list of what you and your family can do here!

There are plenty of picnic tables near the ponds, and with scenic mountain views, you can’t go wrong with a morning or afternoon picnic! If the tables are all occupied, you can bring a blanket and lie down under the sun.

Bring your food, drinks, books, or board games for a picnic at the park… err… at the ponds! Many families come here for a short stay before driving off to the town.

You can also use the fire pits for a warm campfire, perfect for bundling up during the winter. Just remember to buy wood from the Banff National Park to prevent disease from spreading in the area.

The waters of Cascade Ponds are shallow, making it ideal for kids. The water currents are not as strong as oceans and rivers, too, and there are plenty of picnic tables near the ponds for parents to watch their kids.

One of the best things it offers swimmers is the warm water temperature, or at least they aren’t as cold as others in Banff!

white and black surfboard on body of water
Photo by Paddle North on Unsplash

The ponds are big enough for visitors to kayak (kayaking ontario) or canoe. It’s an ideal spot for beginners because, as we’ve mentioned above, the waters are shallow—and calm and not vast like an ocean!

But make sure to gear up! Stay safe by wearing your PFD (Personal Floatation Device) since there are no lifeguards. It’s also important to note that most swimming areas near and in Banff don’t have lifeguards on standby.

black and white full zip jacket
Photo by Sorin Gheorghita on Unsplash

With an easy trail, Cascade Ponds is an ideal hiking (hiking ontario) spot for beginners. You can bring the whole family, including the kids because it’s a very easy hike.

In certain spots, you can bring a stroller. But if you plan on hiking up to the falls, you may want to turn back unless your stroller can handle a bit of a rocky trail—literally, because parts of the trail have small, gravel rocks that can be hard for the wheels.

There’s also a slight slope on your descent, which you need assistance with if you’re bringing a stroller. But it’s still doable for children—just make sure to keep it fun and safe at the same time!

Yes, you can bring your furry friend to Cascade Ponds for a stroll or hike. While it’s a dog-friendly area, you still need to keep your pup on a leash at all times.

It’s for everyone’s safety, really. Cascade Ponds is full of beautiful wildlife, so having dogs running around without supervision can be dangerous.

There are squirrels, foxes, elks, deer, and even bears and wolves! So before bringing your pet, make sure to check the wildlife activity at Banff for safety.

Where to Eat

There aren’t walking-distance eateries in Cascade Ponds. Most people who visit bring their own food, considering this is a popular picnic spot.

But since it’s only a couple of minutes’ drive from the town of Banff, it’s still close to shops, restaurants, and hotels. So, check out our favourite Banff restaurants (banff restaurants) to indulge your cravings!


Address: 211 Bear St # 213, Banff, AB T1L 1E4, Canada 

Contact Details: (403) 762-5550    

Operating Hours:

  • Sunday – Thursday: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Friday – Saturday: 4:30 PM – 9:00 PM

This restaurant offers a new and surprising menu every season! It’s popular for its meat, including rich and flavourful bison short rib and bison tomahawk.

There are also beers, wines, and ciders. Even children get a small kid’s menu, with chicken, burger, and pasta.

It’s a dinner spot that opens late afternoon with live music every Thursday night. Perfect for dining after a rigorous mountain hike, eh?


Address: 204 Caribou St, Banff, AB T1L 1A6, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • Breakfast – 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Lunch – 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Dinner – 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Operating Hours: Sunday – Saturday: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM

With a casual dining vibe, this restaurant is famous for its cajun and creole. You get Louisiana, Acadiana, and Canadian dishes!

It has a huge menu with kid-friendly dishes. Some must-eats are crab cakes, creole jambalaya, and the cajun seafood skillet! If you go for breakfast, don’t forget to order the breakfast poutine for a filling meal!


Address: Clock Tower Village Mall, 112 Banff Ave 2nd Floor, Banff, AB T1L 1A9, Canada

Contact Details: (403) 762-4022

Operating Hours:

  • Monday – Thursday: 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM
  • Friday – Sunday: 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM

After a hike, eat a pizza. This Banff Avenue restaurant has a casual vibe, ideal for groups. It’s the perfect place for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza cravings!

Parents can drink their craft beers (in moderation, of course!) and kids get their fountain pop (or milk!). Don’t forget to try The G.O.A.T. or Return of the Mac pizza to make your tummies full!

Mark your calendars: Wednesdays are wing nights, and on Sundays, pizzas are half off! Maybe pop by Cascade Ponds on those days, eh?


Address: 137 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1C8, Canada

Contact Details: (403) 760-7680

Operating Hours:

  • Monday – Friday: 10:30 AM – 9:30 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 9:30 PM

Brunch Menu:

  • Monday – Friday: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

A good brunch spot after an early morning visit at Cascade Ponds, The Maple Leaf offers dishes made from ingredients found across the country. It’s a good destination for Canadian dishes—not surprising, given the name!

Some definite brunch options are The Cowboy’s Breakfast, which has a mouthwatering 18 oz bone-in rib eye, and the avocado toast (for a light meal). For dinner, the slow braised bison short rib is a must-try paired with the house cocktail, maple old fashioned.

No worries if you have kids in tow. There’s a kid’s menu, and the regular menu has plenty of burgers and sandwiches they might like.

Where to Stay

You’ll find the closest hotels (best hotels in banff) at Cascade Ponds in Banff Town. The two areas are really close to each other, given that the ponds are in Banff National Park.

Here are some of the top places to stay if you plan on visiting!


Address: 345 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1H8, Canada

Contact Details: 

Starting Rate: $249/night

Book Now

There’s something majestic about staying at this hotel—it just screams mountain lodging! It’s a minute’s walk away from downtown, giving you convenient access to necessities.

Guests get complimentary bus passes to Banff Roam, the public transportation in the area, which stops at Cascade Ponds. The hotel is also pet-friendly, with an additional charge of $25 a night per pet.


Address: 405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J4, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • US & Canada Toll-Free Room Reservation – 1 (800) 257-7544
  • International Toll-Free Room Reservation – 800-0441-1414

Starting Rate: $612/night

This hotel is a castle in the Canadian Rockies, offering a luxurious stay with picturesque summit views. Besides the cozy rooms, this hotel has a golf course, spa, fitness centre with classes and personal training sessions, and day camps for kids!

It provides complete amenities, including childcare and babysitting services. Even pet parents can get pet sitters at the hotel—yup, there are pet-friendly rooms with an extra $50 a day fee.


Address: 1201 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore, AB T1W 1P5, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • (403) 678-3665
  • Toll Free – (800) 567-3919

Starting Rate: $155/night

Book Now

With the hotel’s adorable blue exterior, cozy rooms, and coffee in handcrafted mugs, it’s a home away from home. Think: a TV movie where the lead is looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life—exactly what it feels like staying here!

This small family-owned hotel is located in Canmore. It’s just a 15-minute drive away from Cascade Ponds and around 20 to 25 minutes from Banff National Park.

The area around the hotel is perfect for outdoor adventures, like biking and canoeing. You can also bring your pets here to complete your vacation!


Address:  333 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B1, Canada

Contact Details: 1 (866) 606-6700 

Starting Rate: $149/night

Book Now

The contemporary mountain lodge style completes the whole Canadian Rockies experience. With its strategic location, this hotel is so close to restaurants that you won’t go hungry in Banff—the Farm & Fire restaurant is in the main lobby!

If you don’t like long driving, you can head back to Calgary via the Brewster Express. There’s a daily shuttle, so you can head back to town any day!

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