Often when visiting Banff National Park and the town of Banff, families dream of staying in a tiny isolated cabin on a lake. Finding accommodation to match that dream can be tricky. While most of the popular lakes in Banff feature hotel-style lodging and larger resorts, there are still some isolated cabins in Banff.
This summer with Johnston Canyon, one of Banff’s most popular hiking trails closed, it is the perfect time to visit Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows. A 5-acre property with individual cabins that line the ridge of the canyon.
Visiting Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
An iconic stop in Banff is Johnston Canyon. The hike/walk through the Canyon features walkways that take you through the canyon above the rushing water to beautiful waterfalls. Visitors can choose to visit the lower falls, upper falls, or add-on a few kilometers to visit the Ink Pots.
Visitors who do the extra trek are rewarded with incredible individual mineral pools of varying colors. The pools are fed by mineral springs and the colors differentiate based on the heavier and lighter suspension of fine minerals in the water. Watching the minerals bubble up from the sand below into the pools is quite an experience.
For a more in-depth look at the Ink Pots Hike check out this post from Hike Bike Travel.
Where to stay near Johnston Canyon?
While accommodations in Banff are usually quite close to Johnston Canyon. In 2020, Johnston Canyon is only accessible by biking or hiking. From the 1A entrance closest to Banff, it is approximately a 25 km journey. You an always access Johnston Canyon from the Castle Mountain Junction by walking or hiking 6 km.
The benefit this year to staying at Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows is that you have vehicle access to the resort via the Castle Mountain Junction. While the road is closed, cars with confirmed bookings at the resort are permitted entry.
Benefits of Staying at Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows
We recently spent a weekend checking out the Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows and the benefits of staying on-site are plenty. The staff at this resort truly cares about its success. We received stellar service from the cleaning team as well as the kitchen staff.
We loved the layout of the cabins. Our cabin faced Johnston Canyon. At night, the sound of running water was incredibly soothing. While in prior years, visiting Johnston Canyon in summer meant dealing with a high number of people sharing the trails, we found the canyon nearly empty.
The resort has a bbq space as well as some play areas for kids. Our cabin was also fully equipped with a kitchen and had two good sized bedrooms as well as a claw foot tub.
While I was slightly concerned staying at the cabins would be too isolating, we found the exact opposite. The cabins really are a return to a simpler time. We unplugged our phones and spent each night playing games and chatting under the stars.
The benefits of staying at the Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows currently are unfettered access to all local hikes as we as the easy of biking the closed portion of the 1A highway.
On our first day at Johnston Canyon, we explored the Canyon and completed the hike to the ink pots with minimal contact with anyone else. We ate lunch overlooking the upper falls and reveled in the true beauty that is Johnston Canyon. We had time to watch the protected birds that nest in the canyon and explored each nook and cranny with no worry about beating the crowds or getting home for a certain time. It was a unique experience in what is usually a very crowded park and it is not one I will ever forget.
On day 2, we took to our bikes and rode the freshly paved 1A highway. We were joined by other families and more serious road bikers. With plenty of room to pass each other, this was also a delightful experience. While exploring by bike, we were able to see multiple grizzly bears and bike alongside some very adorable mountain goats. All in all, biking the closed portion of the 1A is a unique experience that is not to missed in 2020.
Know Before You Go: Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows
- Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows has a shared BBQ area. They do request that even during this time, you do not set up individual travel BBQs at your own site.
- While bears do not usually enter the canyon area, the Johnston Canyon resort is not a bear-free zone. The area surrounding the resort and the 1A are high bear activity areas. Bring bear spray when exploring.
- To truly experience Johnston Canyon in complete solitude, take an early morning walk or evening walk to the upper falls. It is truly a unique experience to hear nothing but nature.
- If hiking to the ink pots, pack in and out what you take. The closest garbage bins are at the entrance to the hike.
Featured Image Credit: Paul Zizka