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Your Friendly Guide to Bow Falls Viewpoint

Your Friendly Guide to Bow Falls Viewpoint

One of the most famous places to visit when in Banff is the breathtaking Bow Falls. With a height of 9.1 meters and water that cascades over a staircase of rocks, it’s no wonder it’s a famous spot for locals and tourists alike!

Want to visit the falls but don’t know what to do? We’ve made a handy guide just for you, with activities, places to stay, and restaurants to discover. Let’s dive in!

Best Time to Go

Any time is the best time to go to the Bow Falls. Spring is a great time to visit if you want to see the gorgeous turning of the leaves.

Meanwhile, June and July are the ideal time to see the falls at their peak water levels because the snow is melting in the mountains, and you can see the strong gushes of water. But try to visit early in the morning or in the evening to avoid large crowds.

You can also visit during winter seasons, which make for the most magical views of the frozen waterfalls. It’s a picture-perfect destination because the surrounding areas are covered in snow.

Things to Know



Opening Dates: Year-round with limited access in winter

  • Peak Months – June, July, October

Admission: A Parks Canada Pass is required for all visitors of Banff National Park

  • Day Pass
    • Adult (age 18 to 64) – $10.50
    • Senior (age 65 and over) – $9.00
    • Youth (age 6 to 17) – Free
    • Family/Group (up to 7 people, arriving in a single vehicle) – $21.00
    • Commercial Group, per person – $9.00
  • Discovery Pass
    • Adult – $72.25
    • Senior – $61.75
    • Family/Group – $145.25

Facilities: Parking lot, wheelchair and stroller access, benches

How to Get There

How to Get There
Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

By Car: It’s easy to drive to Bow Falls from Banff, and it will only take around five minutes. Head south to Banff Avenue and cross Bow River Bridge.

Then, turn left to Glen Avenue, turn to River Avenue and straight to Bow Falls Avenue-River Avenue until you see a small public parking space next to Bow River. But keep in mind there’s a maximum number of hours allowed—and the space is limited.

By Shuttle: The Roam Public Transit Route 2 runs daily through Tunnel Mountain, Downtown Banff, and Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. It also stops at Bow Falls bus stops during the summer.

By Walking: From Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, you can walk to Bow Falls Viewpoint for around 15 to 20 minutes.

What to Do

Being a famous tourist spot, Bow Falls offers many outdoor adventures. Here are some of our favourite activities to do!

Enjoy a pleasant hike to the top

Enjoy a pleasant hike to the top
Photo by Sorin Gheorghita on Unsplash

Hiking to the Bow Falls Trail is an easy route, taking more or less an hour, depending on your speed. It’s a well-maintained trail with some paved areas and plenty of benches for a short rest, making it ideal for beginners.

It’s a pleasant riverside walk, taking 1.2 km from the bridge to Bow Falls. You’ll encounter lots of people because this is a famous hiking spot for locals and tourists.

While it’s an easy trail, the stairs and slope near the viewpoint are slippery and can get icy starting around November. But there are stunning views of the mountains and forest during the trail.

Hop on a bike and ride along the trails

Hop on a bike and ride along the trails
Photo by Nordgreen on Unsplash

The well-maintained Bow Falls Trail is an excellent biking route. You can cycle through the bridge and the forest alongside the river.

You can even start from the town of Banff. Bike through Banff Avenue and get to the Bow Falls trail. But it’s important to note that you can’t bike to the cliffside.

Paddle on the river and join a scenic tour

Paddle on the river and join a scenic tour
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

The Bow Falls is very dangerous to kayak due to its strong rapids and sharp rocks—even some experts try to stay away. But the good news is, you can paddle along the Bow River.

You’ll likely encounter occasional branches and rocks. There are also occasional rapids, so it’s not recommended for beginners to head to the Red Earth Creek area since you’ll come across some strong rapids.

But if you just want to experience sailing on the river, Banff Adventures offers guided tours that will take you on a scenic water ride along the Bow River. But these activities are weather-dependent, so try to check the weather app before booking a ticket.

Snap a photo of magnificent views

Snap a photo of magnificent views
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Many visitors to the Bow River Viewpoint come by to take lots of pictures. It’s an Instagrammable place, after all.

During your leisurely walk, you’ll encounter viewing areas to take some great pictures. But one of the best spots to snap a pic is on the bridge, with the river and mountain as a backdrop.

Where to Stay

Being close to the town of Banff means there are a tonne of hotels to choose from near Bow Falls Viewpoint. But we know it can be overwhelming to find the right place to relax and sleep after a day of walking the trail, so here are our favourite places!

Fairmont Banff Springs

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

Contact Details: 

  • Global Reservation Centre (Toll-Free for Canada and US reservations only)
    • 1 (800) 257-7544
    • 1 (888) 610-7575 (Français)
  • Main Global Consortia Number (International Toll-Free room reservations only)
    • 800-0441-1414

Average Starting Rate: $654/night 

Price in Canadian dollars

This is the closest hotel to the Bow River Trail, taking only a short 15-minute walk. Don’t be shy and ask the staff for the shortest route and they’ll probably tell you where to go!

This luxury hotel has over 700 rooms and offers many amenities, including a golf course, a spa, a fitness and aquatic centre, private tours, kids’ activities, recreation programs, and a private dining experience inside a dome! 

No matter the season you visit, you’ll find many activities at the Fairmont Banff Springs. The gorgeous and comfortable rooms definitely add to the whole experience—making you almost not want to get out of the hotel because it’s so luxurious!

Mount Royal Hotel

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Address: 138 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A7, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • Toll Free – 1-877-862-2623
  • Phone – 1-403-762-3331
  • Fax – 1-403-760-8551

Average Starting Rate: $149/night

Price in Canadian dollars

This is the place to stay if you’re looking for a very convenient vacation. It’s only a 6-minute drive to the small parking area on Bow Falls Avenue and is located along Banff Avenue, giving you access to many shops and restaurants right in the heart of the town.

It’s a smoke-free property that comes equipped with a hotel library, accessible parking, an on-site restaurant, and a rooftop lounge. Families with kids get to stay in one area because there are rooms with four queen-sized beds.

Plenty of rooms get you unobstructed mountain views in Banff, which is definitely a sight to wake up to in the mornings. It’s one of our favourite places to stay in the Canadian Rockies!

The Rimrock Resort Hotel

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Address: 300 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J2, Canada

Contact Details: 1-888-746-7625

Average Rate: $644/night

Price in Canadian dollars

The place to go to if what you’re looking for is a Canadian mountain stay. This hotel is on Sulphur Mountain and offers stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.

It’s just minutes away from Banff Gondola and the Banff Upper Hot Springs. The short drive to the parking area near Bow Falls Viewpoint makes it a great spot when in Banff National Park!

Offering a full luxurious stay, you can have a fine dining experience with a seven-course meal. It’s an inclusive hotel as well, providing accessible routes to wheelchair users in the entrance, lobby, rooms, and lobby restroom.

Canalta Lodge

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Address: 545 Banff Ave #1B5, Banff, AB T1L 1B5, Canada

Contact Details: 

Average Rate: $157/night

Price in Canadian dollars

This is one of our picks for big groups. There are rooms that can sleep up to six people, complete with a contemporary style for a modern Canadian mountain stay.

It’s ideal for families as well because of the availability of bunk beds and full-size kitchens. To complete your cozy vacation, fireplaces are available to bundle up next to.

But one of the best parts of this Banff hotel is the courtyard, which has a 9°C cold plunge tub. There are also firepits for an afternoon of toasty roasted marshmallows. Yum!

Where to Eat

Being close to the town of Banff has its perks. Visitors get to choose from the long list of restaurants to satisfy your cravings!

Waldhaus Restaurant


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

Contact Details:

Operating Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

This is where to go for an upscale dining place with a view. It’s located in Fairmont Banff Springs, but even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s still an ideal place to eat that’s close to Bow Falls—just remember to get a reservation!

This serves the best Swiss and German meals we’ve tried in Banff. Imagine this: cheese fondue for a starter, schnitzel (thin slice of meat with mushroom cream sauce) for the main dish, and parsley potatoes on the side—complete with stunning mountain views.

Don’t worry if you aren’t up for a heavy meal. The huge pretzels and chocolate fondue with fruits, marshmallows, and chocolate brownies are delicious if you just want some sweets.

Rundle Bar


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

Contact Details: 

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday – Thursday – 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
  • Friday – Saturday: 12:00 PM – 1:00 AM
  • Sunday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM

A very appealing place for afternoon high tea and cocktails, this bar will make you feel like you’re in a British drama—with a twist because you’re in the mountains instead of London! The atmosphere of the place and the yummy food will make your stay in Banff!

It’s a very relaxing place that makes incredible desserts. The afternoon tea is highly recommended by our team, which includes delectable mini sandwiches, macarons, mini cakes, and tea, of course!

You can also indulge yourself in a well-crafted cocktail—and there are non-alcoholic ones! But the best part is taking part in a cocktail class, which includes snacks and a take-home bottle of alcohol.

Maclab Bistro


Address: Kinnear Centre, 1st Floor, 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr, Banff, AB T1L 1H5, Canada

Contact Details: 403-762-6141

Operating Hours: 

  • Coffee and Pastry Takeout: 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Full Menu and Dine-In: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Bar: 11:00 AM – 1:00 AM

This is where spectacular mountain views come paired with uniquely crafted dishes, offering plenty of vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options. The big windows overlooking the Bourgeau Range give the casual dining experience a step up.

The Cobb salad is a must-try, with greens, cucumber, avocado, and your choice of either chicken salad or marinated tofu bacon, perfectly drizzled with grainy mustard vinaigrette.

There are plenty of burger options as well, but we have to say the Classic Maclab Burger is a favourite. It comes with a juicy beef patty, bacon, mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickle, cheese, horseradish sauce, and toasted buns.



Address: 1st Floor, Inside Park Avenue Mall, 211-Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, Canada

Contact Details: 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

After seeing the Bow Falls Viewpoint, good milk tea is a refreshing drink at the end of the day. This spot along Banff Avenue has many choices for everyone, including classic milk tea, fruit tea, mochi yogurt, slush, sparkler, and tea espresso.

You can’t go wrong with the tried-and-tested brown sugar milk tea with tapioca pearls. Another must-taste is the Thai milk tea with tapioca pearls, which perfectly hits the sweet spot!

The menu is customizable to cater to different sweetness levels. The sugar level, overall, is pretty low, making the drinks refreshingly sweet.

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