There are so many great places to take photos within easy walking distance of the town of Banff, it’s not always necessary to take your car. I’m going to cover five good spots in this post, you could visit them all in one go (as I’ve written here) or individually the Town of Banff website has a good trail map showing all the places mentioned here. So first stop Banff Park Museum!
1. Banff Park Museum/Central Park
Banff Park Museum is a beautiful building, it’s been refurbished recently and could be described as a museum of a museum. It’s worth a visit on a rainy day if you don’t want to go outside. I’m using it as a starting point for this as it’s a good landmark to start at, it also looks pretty cool at night as it’s really well lit. The Central Park behind the museum has a nice footpath alongside the Bow River which has some good photo opportunities.
2. Cascade Gardens
When you’ve finished at the museum take the road bridge across the Bow River and head up towards the large stone building directly in line with the bridge. The gardens at the end of Banff Avenue are a great place to visit if you’ve got an hour or so to spare whilst you’re in town. They’re also a great point for taking a classic photo of Banff Avenue with Cascade Mountain in the background. There’s a couple of ponds at the front of the Parks Canada Administration Building in the garden where it all lines up for the perfect shot.
3. Bow Falls
Bow Falls is a short walk from down town, you could drive there but if you’re not in a rush the walk is nicer. From the Cascade Gardens follow the way markers pointing in the direction of Bow Falls. You should get to a trail in the trees alongside the Bow River. This trail is relatively flat until a section where it climbs up and then down again to get to Bow Falls via several sets of steps.
4. Surprise Corner Viewpoint
From Bow Falls follow the trail back until you reach the pedestrian footbridge which you will need to cross. At the end of the bridge turn right beside the river. The trail will carry on along beside the Bow as it slowly climbs, and the trail will move away from the river and be on the side of the road for about 500 metres. You’ll then be at the Surprise Corner Viewpoint. Here there’s a great view of the Banff Springs Hotel.
5. Tunnel Mountain
There are two ways of getting to the summit of Tunnel Mountain from the Surprise Corner Viewpoint. The first is carrying on up Tunnel Mountain Drive to the upper trail head along the roadside (about 1.25 km) or the other option is to head back down the same way and start from the lower trail head. Whichever you choose Tunnel Mountain is a nice short hike easily accessed from town. There are some good views of the Bow Valley and over the Banff Springs Golf Course from the top. You could then follow the Tunnel Mountain trail all the way back down into town which avoids walking along the side of the road. (Just a note, the photos from Tunnel Mountain were taken at a different time to the others, hence the snow!)
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