Electricity

In Canada, power plugs have two flat angled pins, while in the US there are two round pins. Note that these plugs are different to European two-pin power plugs. The power supply in both countries is 120V/60Hz. Adaptors to convert power plugs are easily available from electrical outlets and travel shops.

Entry & Exit Formalities

Customs Regulations

  • Visitors entering either Canada or the US can bring 200 cigarettes (one carton), 50 cigars and 7 ounces of tobacco; 1.5L or 53 fl oz of liquor or wine, or 24 cans of beer; and gifts up to the value of C$60 (US$100) per item.
  • There are strict restrictions on the import of plants, seeds and animal products to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. This also applies to firewood, which can't be transported across the border.
  • Importing firearms, explosives and other weapons is illegal unless you’re carrying an appropriate permit.
  • You can bring bear spray across the border as long as the specific intended usage is clearly indicated.

Visas

Entering the US & Canada by Air

  • Visitors from many countries, including the US, most European Union nations, the UK, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter Canada. You are usually permitted to remain in the country for six months, after which you will have to apply for an extension to your stay.
  • If you’re arriving in the US from one of these countries, you should qualify for entry under the Visa Waiver Program. This will qualify you to remain in the US for a stay of up to 90 days. Citizens of the 38 countries in the US Visa Waiver Program need to register with the government online (www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta); apply at least 72 hours in advance (notification is usually immediate and registration is valid for two years).
  • Citizens of other countries will need to apply for a visitor’s visa from either the Citizenship and Immigration Service Canada or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or apply directly to the embassy or consulate in their own country.
  • There’s a comprehensive list of Canadian consular offices at www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/offices/apply-where.asp and of US embassies at www.usembassy.state.gov.

Insurance

Travel insurance is always a worthwhile investment if you’re visiting another country. Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online any time – even if you’re already on the road.

  • Choose your policy carefully, especially for coverage against flight delays, ‘acts of God’ or force majeure events, and baggage loss, and check the excess to be paid in the event of a claim.
  • If you’re undertaking outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, climbing or water sports, and especially if you’re skiing or snowboarding, make sure your travel insurance policy covers you against medical treatment and emergency repatriation, as hospital bills are cripplingly expensive.
  • Most standard US health plans aren’t valid for treatment in Canada, so you’ll need to ensure you’re covered under a separate travel insurance policy.
  • Auto insurance purchased in Canada and the US is usually applicable to either country, but confirm this with your provider before you leave home.
  • Many auto insurance policies extend to rental cars, and some credit-card providers provide coverage if you pay for the rental with your card.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Access is widespread around both of the Canadian parks, and around Waterton townsite, but it’s patchy around Glacier.

  • Most hotels including the historic 'parkitecture' lodging in Glacier offer free wireless access to customers with their own laptops, and wi-fi hot spots are common in cafes and restaurants.
  • The wi-fi icon denotes wireless access is available.
  • The internet icon denotes that there is a computer available for public use.
  • Most public libraries offer internet access, usually for a small fee.

Maps

The best topographical maps are produced by Gem Trek Publishing (www.gemtrek.com), which has several excellent 1:100,000 maps covering Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes, as well as Lake Louise and Yoho, Bow Lake and the Crossing, Columbia Icefield, Canmore, Kananaskis and several other areas.

All major trails and points of interest are clearly marked on the maps, which are supposedly waterproof and tear-proof (although in practice they’ll only take so much punishment). They’re available everywhere, including from retail stores, bookstores, grocery stores and many gas stations.

National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated series offers topographical, waterproof, tear-proof maps of Glacier and Waterton Lakes (the smaller maps within this series that only cover a region such as Two Medicine Valley are recommended because they include water hazards), while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) publishes a 1:100,000 topographical map for Glacier National Park.

Map Art Publishing (www.mapart.com) produces a range of road maps covering the Canadian Rockies.

Note that our maps aren't intended for serious backcountry hikes; we highly recommend you purchase one of the options above.

Media

Newspapers

  • Newspapers The most widely read daily newspapers in Alberta are the Calgary Herald (www.calgaryherald.com) and Edmonton Journal (www.edmontonjournal.com), plus the Calgary Sun (www.calgarysun.com) and Edmonton Sun (www.edmontonsun.com) tabloids. There are many regional newspapers; look out for the historic Crag & Canyon (www.thecragandcanyon.com) and the Rocky Mountain Outlook (www.rmoutlook.com). In Montana pick up the Whitefish Pilot (www.whitefishpilot.com) and Daily Inter Lake (www.dailyinterlake.com).

Radio

  • Radio The nationwide Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) is the main radio service in Canada, although reception is patchy across the parks; try 96.3FM for CBC Radio One in Banff and 98.1FM in Jasper. The volunteer-run Banff Park Radio is on 101.1FM. In Montana KJJR (880AM) has news and talk.

TV

The NTSC TV system is used in both Canada and the US. DVDs are encoded in the Region 1 standard.

Money

ATMs in Banff, Jasper and Glacier townsites, scarce elsewhere. Credit and debit cards widely accepted.

Canada

Banks and ATMs are fairly widespread in the main townsites, and you’ll find branches of at least one major bank (CIBC, ATB, Scotiabank or Bank of Montreal) in Jasper, Banff and Canmore as well as in several other gateway towns. Many gas stations, supermarkets and malls also have ATMs, and there are handy ATMs at Samson Mall in Lake Louise Village and Saskatchewan Crossing on the Icefields Pkwy. For exchange services in Waterton, head to Tamarack Outdoor Outfitters. The closest banks are in Cardston and Pincher Creek.

  • Banks generally offer better exchange rates than currency bureaus.
  • If your bank is a member of the Cirrus or Maestro networks, you should be able to withdraw cash from ATMs featuring these logos, but fees for using the facility can be high.
  • Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted practically everywhere.
  • Prices for almost everything in Canada are quoted without GST.

USA

In Glacier, the nearest banks are in Columbia Falls and Browning. The lodges at Lake McDonald, Glacier Park and Many Glacier have ATMs, as does Eddie’s Camp Store in Apgar and the St Mary Lodge and St Mary supermarket. There are also several ATMs in West Glacier.

  • Credit cards are widely accepted.
  • There’s no sales tax in Montana.
  • For Glacier visitors crossing over to Waterton, keep in mind that most businesses accept US currency, but don't bother to calculate the exchange rate, which means you lose out.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1C$0.96US$0.73
CanadaC$1C$1US$0.76
Euro zone€1C$1.50US$1.14
Japan¥100C$1.08US$0.82
New ZealandNZ$1C$0.88US$0.67
UK£1C$2.07US$1.57
USAUS$1C$1.32US$1

For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.

Opening Hours

  • Opening hours noted in reviews are for high season. Low season hours may be reduced, or businesses may close altogether.
  • Standard opening hours for retailers and services are from 9am to 5:30pm, although grocery and convenience stores, tourist services, gift shops, cafes and chain stores often open later.
  • Banks open 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday.
  • Standard restaurant hours are from around 7am to 10:30am for breakfast, 11am to 3pm for lunch and 5pm to 10pm for dinner.
  • Bars open any time from 4pm onwards to around midnight or later.

Post

Mail services are much the same in the national parks as in the rest of the US and Canada, although it can take longer for letters to arrive in winter, when heavy snow sometimes causes delays. Banff, Jasper, Waterton and Glacier all have large, efficient post offices, while you’ll find smaller branches in most gateway towns.

Public Holidays

Both Canada and the US observe a number of national holidays, when most shops, visitor attractions and services shut or operate on limited hours, and banks, schools and post offices are all closed. Accommodations, transportation and main highways are usually very busy around major holidays, especially Easter, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Canada

New Year’s Day January 1

Good Friday March/April

Easter Monday First Monday after Good Friday

Victoria Day Monday preceding May 25

Canada Day July 1

Labour Day First Monday of September

Thanksgiving Day Second Monday of October

Remembrance Day November 11

Christmas Day December 25

Boxing Day December 26

USA

New Year’s Day January 1

Martin Luther King Day Third Monday in January

President’s Day Third Monday in February

Memorial Day Last Monday in May

Independence Day July 4

Labor Day First Monday in September

Columbus Day Second Monday in October

Veterans’ Day November 11

Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November

Christmas Day December 25

Taxes & Refunds

  • Taxes A goods and services tax (GST) of 5% is added to most goods in Alberta and British Columbia. Montana has no sales tax.

Telephone

Mobile Phones

Cell phone coverage outside the main towns can be extremely erratic, especially in the backcountry.

  • It’s always worth taking a cell with you if you’re on a wilderness trip, but don’t automatically assume you’ll have reception.
  • Canadian and US cell-phone networks are generally compatible. If you’re bringing a phone from abroad, check that it works with the cell phone systems in the US and Canada.
  • A temporary pay-as-you-go SIM card is a good way to avoid expensive roaming charges.
  • Most networks provide sporadic coverage in and around the entrances to Glacier National Park; Verizon offers the best service there and in Waterton.

Snapshot

Coverage is patchy outside townsites. Phone must be compatible with Canadian/US network.

Payphones

You’ll find plenty of payphones in the main towns, as well as at major campgrounds and visitor attractions. In general, it costs 50¢ to make a call from a payphone.

Phone Codes

Area codes are denoted by the first three digits of phone numbers (eg 403 or 780 in Alberta, 406 in Montana). If you’re outside the area code, you’ll need to dial it along with the relevant phone number.

Other commonly used dialing codes:

1 international prefix, used for calling the US and Canada from abroad

1-800/1-888 toll-free

Time

Alberta and Montana are both in the ‘Mountain Time-zone,’ one hour ahead of Pacific Time (used by the US west coast and western parts of British Columbia), one hour behind Central Time, two hours behind Eastern Time (the US east coast) and seven hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (London).

Like most Canadian provinces, Alberta observes daylight-saving time between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November. The clocks are put forward one hour during this period so nightfall is later.

Toilets

Public toilets are common in the major townsites as well as visitor attractions and visitor centers at the park entrances. If you’re out and about in the national parks, you’ll find pit toilet cabins at most of the trailheads (and in backcountry campsites in Glacier).

Tourist Information

For general information on the national parks, your first port of call should be the comprehensive websites for either Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca) or the US National Park Service (www.nps.gov). The chamber of commerce website for Waterton Lakes (www.mywaterton.ca) is another handy resource.

For more specific information, the staff at the main park visitor centers are hugely knowledgeable and very helpful, and can provide leaflets, brochures and guide booklets on practically every imaginable activity in the park. All the provincial parks have their own visitor centers.

Travel with Children

The Rocky Mountain parks are the perfect places to entertain and educate children; light on gimmicks, but heavy on inspiration. Listen to fascinating tales from indigenous storytellers, feel the thrill of your first-ever bear sighting, or enjoy the good old-fashioned simplicity of a game of charades around the campfire.

Best Activities for Kids

  • Hiking

Hitting the trails is the best way to appreciate the national parks.

  • Canmore Nordic Centre

Discover 60km (37 miles) of trails at this purpose-built bike park.

  • Snocoach Tour

Trundle up the Athabasca Glacier in an all-terrain Snocoach.

  • Canoeing on Moraine Lake

Paddle across the waters of this idyllic mountain lake.

  • Hot Springs

Kids will love the hot springs in Banff, Jasper and Radium.

  • Gondola Rides

Zip up the mountainside in style in Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise.

  • Horseback Riding

Trot through the Rockies and tuck into a trailside cookout.

  • Wildlife Watching

From marmots to moose, the Rockies are a paradise for wildlife spotters.

  • White-water Rafting

Get wet and wild on the Bow and Kicking Horse Rivers.

Banff, Jasper & Glacier for Kids

Sights & Attractions

Compared to the true wilderness parks in Alaska and the Yukon with next-to-zero infrastructure, the Rocky Mountain Parks are positively family-friendly, laying on many activities specifically for children.

Inevitably, it’s the outdoor pursuits that are going to be the main attraction. Wildlife walks, white-water rafting, canoeing and horseback riding are all popular family pastimes, and most activity providers are well set up for dealing with kids.

Children qualify for discounted entry to nearly all sights (generally around half-price for ages five to 15, while under-fives often go free). Family tickets, which usually include entry for two adults and two children, are also available for many tours and sights.

Hiking

Hiking is one of the best all-round family activities. Many of the trails around the parks are well maintained and easily within the scope of active kids. Older kids should be capable of tackling some of the shorter overnight hikes, including staying out in the backcountry and cooking dinner over an open campfire with parents or extended family.

Trails that combine the sights are usually more fun for inquiring young minds, and there are many examples of walks that take in a mix of forest, mountain, river and canyon, or those that wind their way through well-known wildlife habitats. Several trails have interpretive panels to help you understand the geographical features, flora and fauna.

If the kids are interested in nature, it might be a good idea to join an organized hike. Many local guides are accredited by the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association (MPHIA) and can help children really engage with the natural world they’re walking through. The main tour operators in Banff run morning and evening wildlife tours, on which you’ll have a good chance of spotting elk, moose, bighorn sheep and other animals.

Remember to take along all the necessary supplies, including plenty of water, hats, sun lotion, blister cream and, most importantly, something nice to eat once you reach the end of the trail. Good-quality waterproofs will also come in handy in case of sudden rainstorms.

Top Hikes for Kids
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Sundance Canyon
  • Consolation Lakes
  • Garden Path Trail
  • Mary Schäffer Loop
  • Moose Lake Loop
  • Crypt Lake Trail
  • Avalanche Lake Trail
  • Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail

Cycling

Banff and Jasper have decent on- and off-road cycling networks with plenty of easy grades for kids. Most bike-rental companies offer children’s bikes, child helmets and protective pads, as well as child chariots and ‘tag-a-longs’ for younger children.

One of the best areas for biking is at the self-contained Canmore Nordic Centre, which has a huge system of trails catering for all ages and abilities. The Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is also good for downhill mountain biking in summer.

Canoeing & Rafting

Canoes and kayaks are readily available for hire on Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake and many others throughout the summer months. For more thrills, white-water rafting on the Kicking Horse and Bow Rivers is a guaranteed knuckle-whitener, although – depending on the class of rapids – there are sometimes minimum age stipulations. More popular with families are relatively sedate 'float trips’, such as those offered on the Bow and Athabasca Rivers (in Banff and Jasper respectively). All canoeing and rafting companies provide suitable boats for kids, or spaces in adult boats, along with child-sized life vests.

If you prefer to let someone else do the steering, there are scenic boat cruises on Lake Minnewanka, Maligne Lake and several of Jasper’s lakes.

Horseback Riding

Horse travel is part of Rocky Mountain folklore and requires minimal skills if you're a first-timer. Most horse-trip companies provide small ponies and child-friendly saddles, and cater as much for novices as experienced riders.

Banff Trail Riders has lots of easy rides in Banff (from one hour in duration) and also offers a great evening trail cookout, complete with BBQ steak and homemade baked beans.

You can usually visit the horses at Spray River Corral and the Warner stables, near the Cave and Basin in Banff; phone ahead to check the stables are open for visitors.

Jasper also has plenty of potential for horseback riding, with popular day trails around Lake Annette and Lake Patricia, and longer trips into Tonquin Valley and Maligne Pass.

Skiing, Snowboarding & Other Winter Activities

In winter, skiing and snowboarding are the main outdoor pastimes. All of the ski resorts in Banff, Jasper and Kananaskis, as well as Whitefish Mountain Resort near Glacier, have runs that are specially tailored for younger users. Child-size skis, snowboards, goggles and gear are all available for hire. Banff's Mt Norquay is deemed particularly family-friendly.

Most resorts offer ski lessons and snowboard schools, as well as day care and baby-sitting services. For more info, the website for Banff’s Big Three (www.skibig3.com) ski resorts will give you some idea of what’s on offer.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are both fun and unusual ways to explore the winter landscape: The trails around Jasper townsite and the Lake Louise area are good places to start. Ice-skating is usually possible on some of the park’s lakes in winter, depending on seasonal temperatures.

Ranger Programs

Glacier operates the US National Parks Service’s excellent Junior Ranger Program (www.nps.gov/learn/juniorranger.htm), in which kids pick up a free ranger booklet from park visitor centers. The booklet contains activities, questionnaires, quizzes and games to complete during their stay; they’ll earn a Junior Ranger badge and a certificate when the book is completed. Before you even set out for the national park, kids can sign up to become a WebRanger at www.nps.gov/webrangers, where there are plenty of online games, puzzles and activities to pique their interest.

The Canadian Rocky Mountain parks – Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes – all run an Xplorers Program aimed at kids aged six to 11. Kids are given a paperback Xplorer booklet full of interesting facts and tasks. They must complete a given number of tasks in order to claim a special souvenir. Xplorers 2 is a similar program aimed at teens. Booklets are available at any park information center.

Hands-on interpretive activities are often run at day-use areas or on trails in Banff. Activities range from stories about legendary park characters to field studies of bugs. Upcoming activities are displayed on the park website.

Parks Canada also provides regular educational programs at main campgrounds in Banff, Jasper, Waterton Lakes and Kootenay, with slide shows, talks, films and activities exploring many aspects of the parks, including wildlife, natural history and geology. Campgrounds with regular programs include Tunnel Mountain, Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise in Banff, and The Whistlers and Wapiti in Jasper. You don't have to be a campground guest to attend.

In West Glacier in the US, the Glacier National Park Visitor Center holds similarly entertaining ranger talks and slideshows throughout summer, and the Discovery Cabin in Apgar Village holds Junior Ranger programs in July and August.

Children’s Highlights

Banff & Around

  • Banff Gondola Ride the sky-skimming cable car to the top of Sulphur Mountain.
  • Bow River Float the low-grade rapids below Bow Falls or hire a canoe and paddle up to Vermilion Lakes for some beaver-spotting.
  • Lake Louise Hike up for afternoon tea at the Lake Agnes Teahouse.
  • Rat’s Nest Cave This cave system near Canmore has over 65km (40 miles) of underground tunnels to explore.
  • Boo the Grizzly Bear The Rocky Mountains’ only captive grizzly bear lives in a refuge on Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, meaning sightings are practically guaranteed.
  • Cows Ice Cream Banff Ave has an outlet of what is possibly the best ice cream maker in Canada.

Jasper

  • Maligne Lake Jump aboard a cruise boat to Spirit Island.
  • Jasper Skytram More gravity-defying cable cars.
  • Columbia Icefield Centre Go for a Snocoach ride on the Athabasca glacier.
  • Glacier Skywalk Test your head for heights on this daring glass-floor lookout.
  • Jasper Town Trails Hike or pedal the scenic trails that fan out directly from Jasper’s townsite.
  • Miette Hot Springs Splash around in geothermally heated waters.

Glacier & Waterton

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road Ride this spectacular road in a vintage ‘Jammer’ bus.
  • Native America Speaks Watch First Nations culture in action at the St Mary Visitor Center.
  • Many Glacier Valley Top spot for wildlife- and glacier-spotting.
  • Lake McDonald Dip a canoe oar into the frigid but beautiful water of this picture-perfect lake.

Planning

Rainy-Day Activities

Bad weather can put a dent in even the best-laid plans, so here are a few ideas on what to do when the sun won’t play ball.

Banff Park Museum Get spooked out by stuffed beasts.

Lux Cinema in Banff Top place for catching the latest flicks.

Jasper Aquatic Centre Get wet in Jasper’s municipal pool.

Elevation Place Indoor climbing walls and a fun indoor pool are the highlights at this new Canmore recreation centre.

Banff Skatepark Plenty of bowls, rails and ramps to grind.

Hot Springs in Banff, Jasper and Radium Get wet and stay warm.

Museum of the Plains Indian Learn about First Nations culture at this interesting museum on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

What to Pack

For Babies & Toddlers
  • Back sling or child-carrier rucksack Perfect for hiking the trails and keeping your hands free.
  • Portable changing mat Plus hand-wash gel and other essentials, as trail toilets are very basic.
  • Child’s car seat Avoid the extra expense and hassle of arranging a car seat from your rental company.
  • Stroller with rain cover The cover is essential in case of bad weather.
For Five to 12 Year Olds
  • Rain gear A good raincoat and plenty of warm layers will be indispensable.
  • Proper footwear A pair of boots (or at the very least decent trail shoes) will help avoid sprained ankles and keep feet dry. Sneakers are not a good idea.
  • Nature guides Essential for helping to identify wildflowers, birds and animals on the trails.
  • Binoculars For long-distance wildlife watching.
  • First-aid kit Including disinfectant, antibiotic cream, Band-Aids, blister cream and moleskin patches for hot spots in boots.
  • Spare batteries For torches, games etc.

Accommodations

Most hotels will happily accept kids, and many places allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents’ room for no extra charge (the exact age varies according to the hotel, but it’s usually under 12, 15 or 16). Extra pull-out beds are often available; otherwise ask for a triple-bed or family room.

  • Many hotels have extra facilities, such as games rooms, saunas and swimming pools with water slides, which can help to fend off boredom once the day’s activities are done.
  • For larger families, booking out a whole hostel dorm is usually far cheaper than an equivalent hotel room. The big HI hostel in Banff has private self-catering cabins ideal for families.
  • Many cabin complexes and some hotels have self-catering suites with fully equipped kitchens.
  • Larger campgrounds such as Tunnel Mountain, Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise in Banff, or Whistlers or Wapiti in Jasper, host regular interpretive programs and activity sessions for children. Some of them also have playgrounds.

Dining

Most restaurants in the parks are kid-friendly, with the exception of some of the more upmarket establishments. Kids’ menus are widespread, especially in hotels and the main town restaurants. This being North America, menus usually arrive with a cup of crayons and an activity sheet to pass the time.

Some drinking establishments will serve kids food at sit-down tables in the early evening (usually before 9pm).

Driving

  • In Alberta and BC, it’s a legal requirement that children under six and weighing less than 18kg (40lb) are secured in a properly fitted child-safety seat. In BC kids over 18kg but under 1.45m (4ft 9in) must use a booster seat (this is also recommended in Alberta).
  • In Montana, US, kids under six years of age or under 27kg (60lb) must use a child-safety seat.
  • Drivers are responsible for ensuring that other passengers are safely secured and wearing seat belts. Safety seats for toddlers and children are available from all the major rental companies, but you’ll incur an extra charge (usually around C$6 to C$10 per day). You’ll need to reserve them at the time of booking.

Best Regions for Kids

Banff

The park with the best infrastructure contains a sizeable town that hosts bags of restaurants and hotels, and a good cross section of outdoor adventure companies. Banff also has a gondola ride, hot springs and several museums.

Jasper

A quieter alternative to Banff, Jasper also has a handy townsite, a gondola ride, hot springs and the best off-road bike network in the Rockies.

Waterton Lakes

This pint-sized park has a small townsite equipped with its own large family-friendly campground. Also on offer are boat rides on lakes and some spectacular trails.

Glacier

The most rugged park has an excellent Junior Ranger program and interesting Native America Speaks.

Accessible Travel

Visiting Banff, Jasper and Glacier still presents quite a challenge for people with auditory, visual or physical disabilities and for people with restricted mobility.

Your best bet is to contact parks visitor centers directly with questions on specific activities or refer to the Disabled Traveler's Companion website (www.tdtcompanion.com). Glacier also publishes an informational brochure available on the park's website.

  • Most hotels have at least some wheelchair-accessible rooms.
  • The larger campgrounds at Tunnel Mountain, Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise (plus Waterfowl Lakes) in Banff, as well as Whistlers, Wabasso and Wapiti in Jasper, have limited facilities for disabled users, including wheelchair-friendly campsites and washrooms.

Banff

Most of the main sights in Banff, including Lake Louise, Banff’s museums, Upper Hot Springs Pool and Peyto Lake along the Icefields Pkwy are all wheelchair-accessible, as is the main visitor center. Most restaurants in Banff are on the ground floor, so should be accessible to wheelchair users.

  • Paved trails ideal for wheelchair users include the lower section of Johnston Canyon, the paved section of the Lake Minnewanka Shoreline Trail, the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail and the mixed-use Sundance Trail in Banff.
  • In Kananaskis Country, William Watson Lodge has been designed specifically to give people with disabilities access to the area, with 22 fully accessible cottages and over 18km (11.2 miles) of accessible trails.

Glacier & Waterton Lakes

  • In Glacier, two short, scenic trails are paved for wheelchair use: Trail of the Cedars, off Going-to-the-Sun Rd; and the Running Eagle Falls Trail in Two Medicine. The cycling path between Apgar Village and the visitor's center is also accessible.
  • Hearing-impaired visitors can get information at 406-888-7806.
  • Park visitor centers have audio guides for visually impaired visitors.
  • At least one or two ground-floor, wheelchair-friendly rooms are available at all in-park lodges.
  • All shuttles in Glacier are ADA accessible, as is a new specially designed 'Jammer' bus.
  • The Waterton Townsite campground has wheelchair-accessible bathroom facilities, as do a few of the lodges in the townsite.
  • Waterton's Linnet Lake Trail, Waterton Townsite Trail and Cameron Lake Day area are wheelchair accessible.

Jasper

Jasper’s museum, Miette Hot Springs, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, Jasper Tramway and the visitor center are all wheelchair accessible, as is Athabasca Falls and the Icefield Centre along the Icefields Pkwy.

  • Several trails are good for wheelchair users, including the initial paved section of the Mary Schäffer Loop, Maligne Lake, the Clifford E Lee Trail at Lake Annette and Pyramid Isle in Pyramid Lake.
  • Few accommodations in Jasper have dedicated rooms for wheelchair users, although most have elevators, and there are usually ground-floor rooms that can accommodate disabled visitors.
  • Many of Jasper’s restaurants are on ground floors and have accessible toilets.

Volunteering

There are many organizations that volunteer their efforts for free to ensure the continuing welfare of the parks.

Among the best known are the 'Friends' organizations: Friends of Banff (www.friendsofbanff.com), Friends of Jasper (www.friendsofjasper.com) and Friends of Kootenay (www.friendsofkootenay.com). These organizations undertake everything from administrative work and fundraising to trail maintenance, and are often looking for volunteers to help with current programs.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures Distances in Canada are quoted in kilometers, with elevations in meters. In the US it’s miles and feet. Both countries quote weights in imperial pounds.

Women Travellers

The national parks don’t present many unusual dangers for women traveling alone. Both the parks and the main townsites are generally friendly and safe places to visit, although obviously it pays to take the usual precautions – avoid unlit or unpopulated areas after dark, join up with other people if you’re walking home late at night, and don’t hitchhike.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Banff Information Centre403-762-1550
Jasper Information Centre780-852-6176
Glacier National Park Headquarters406-888-7800
Waterton403-859-2378