Johnston Canyon Trail, Banff National Park

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This is deservedly one of the most popular short walks in Banff National Park.

Access is off Bow Water Parkway just south of Castle Junction. There is a huge parking area by Johnston Canyon Lodge. Aim to be there early. By 11am the car park was virtually full.

There is a daily charge to enter Banff National Park, but no additional charges for parking.

There is an easy, properly constructed path to the first falls through a deep, sheer sided limestone canyon. In places the walkway is attached to the side of the canyon, high above the river. There are small falls where the river tumbles down harder layers of rock. The lower falls plunge 20m into a pool with a viewing platform. Above the falls, it is possible to go through a short cave for views of the upper canyon.

Most people only get as far as the lower falls. Few continue to the upper falls. This is a shame as this part is even more dramatic. The upper canyon has more trees growing along the side of the river. There are a series of small waterfalls. In places the walkway is built well out from the overhanging canyon walls over the river. The scenery becomes more rugged and the upper falls suddenly come into view plunging 30m into the pool below. The canyon rocks in places are covered with a smooth, somewhat shiny layer of tufa caused by the deposition of calcium carbonate from spray.

Allow an hour for the lower falls and two hours for the walk to the upper falls and back to the car park. The walk is fairly level and there is not much climbing involved. Johnsons Canyon Walk is certainly lived up to the hype, especially going to the upper falls. We can recommend it.

We visited during a five week trip to Canada. There is an overall report of the trip here

I have written a series of detailed reports for some of the places visited for Silver Travel.

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