Banff National Park ~ Johnston Canyon Hike, Peyto Lake, Bridal Veil Falls

August 13th ~ Banff National Park

Tim on the Johnston Canyon hike

When we were staying in the campground right next to the town of Banff, I had wanted to do the Johnston Canyon Hike, but just could not get my patootie out the door. But now, I was feeling guilty at missing one of the most popular hiking trails in Banff National Park.

That could only mean one thing – BACKTRACKING! 

Thankfully it was only a very short distance from our new site near Lake Louise, so really not a big deal.

Johnston Canyon Hike

Only .5 Mile to Lower Falls and 1.5 to Upper Falls

It was easy to see why this hike is on everyone’s list. The first part to the lower falls takes only 30 minutes, travels along a boardwalk and is rated easy. The engineering task of embedding metal into the side of the rock walls, and installing a cantilevered catwalk is impressive.

Word of warning – get there early to avoid the crowds and to get a parking space.

The steep canyon walls and roaring Johnston creek provide a glorious setting.

Johnston Canyon

Many thousand boots have passed over this rock and polished it until it shined.

Rock polished by many pairs of boots over the years

You can see how the walkway is built out over the canyon below

Lower Falls – notice the tunnel opening on the far right side

On the right-hand side of this picture you can see a tunnel opening. It is narrow, but opens  up to a closer observation deck where you just might get some cool spray on your face.

Continuing up the trail toward the Upper Falls, there is a little more climb involved, but still not a difficult walk. The walkway is a simple dirt path in areas, interspersed with more of the reinforced boardwalk.

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More waterfalls dotted our path. I think there were seven in all. Upper Falls was worth the climb.

Castle Mountain Internment Camp

About the camp

Canada, as does the USA, has a dark relationship with imprisoning enemy aliens. During World War I, some 8500 people from countries who were at war with Canada were put into internment camps. Despite them being civilians, many were sent to prisoner of war camps and used as forced labor.

“Of particular note was the use of forced labour in Canada’s national parks, where they were introduced there as a matter of policy to improve existing facilities and increase accessibility by developing the park system’s infrastructure. By 1915 several internment camps in and around the Rocky Mountains were in full swing, including a camp at the foot of Castle Mountain, the terminal point of the then uncompleted Banff-Laggan (Lake Louise) road.” ~ Wikipedia

Today a monument marks where the camp was located

Peyto Lake

From Bow Summit, you can take a short walk to see some pretty impressive views of Peyto Lake (pronounced PEE-toh).

Bow Summit Sign

During the summer, there is an abundance of glacier rock flour, which gives this lake (and many other glacier fed lakes through out this region) its’ incredible turquoise color.

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

About the coloring

Bridal Veil Falls

Located along the Icefields Parkway, Bridal Veil Falls is a class 4 waterfall with a drop of 1200 feet. The falls are visible from the pull-out, but even with threatening skies, we hiked a bit down the trail in hopes of getting a better shot.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we were willing to backtrack and did not miss taking the hike in Johnston Canyon.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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24 Responses to Banff National Park ~ Johnston Canyon Hike, Peyto Lake, Bridal Veil Falls

  1. EmelyeKay says:

    Beautiful photos! Unfortunately our short visit to Banff this summer was marred by unrelenting rain.

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  2. ktkickass says:

    absolutely gorgeous! thanks for sharing!!!

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  3. Lovely photos! Unfortunately I think these beautiful places are even busier than usual with the free park entry for Canada’s 150th birthday.

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    • Caroline, you are right. The park rangers mentioned that the amount of visitors was up considerably this year. It was wonderful that the parks are free for everyone this year, but yes, the downside is crowded conditions and parking lots filling us early.

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  4. Barbara Yurick says:

    Great pictures! I’m hoping to put Banaff back on my bucket list even though I camped there over 43 years ago.

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  5. tippysmom2 says:

    What a beautiful hike. I’m so glad that you decided to backtrack too! The waterfalls are fabulous! Were the red things on that one stem berries or flowers? It is interesting why the lake is that color it is. Thanks for sharing that. The internment camps were a horrible part of our histories. I guess all countries have an era they are ashamed of as times change. At the time, I’m sure it felt like the right thing to do.

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  6. Wonderful pics and post! 😇☺

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  7. Anabel Marsh says:

    We loved Johnston Canyon too. We were so lucky because we left Kananaskis in rain that morning, then drove through terrible weather to our next destination, but our stop at the canyon was perfect!

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  8. Terry says:

    Taking notes.

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  9. Pingback: Columbia Icefields, Athabasca Glacier and Glacier Skywalk | A Note From Abroad

  10. I am a geography teacher in Romania and I mentioned this park in one of my lesson. The images are very beautiful.

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  11. curvyroads says:

    Absolutely worth backtracking!!! What gorgeous photos!

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