A Family-Friendly Guide to Exploring the Renowned Canadian Rockies

Written by
Staff Writer
March 12, 2024
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First Published on

In this guide, we’ll unveil the most iconic locations and family-friendly activities tailored for little trailblazers and adventure seekers. Plus, we’ll share essential tips on how to get to and navigate the Bow Valley, including where to stay and even how to save! 

The Ideal Time for Family Adventures 

Experience the Canadian Rockies at their most vibrant from mid-June to mid-September. Wildflowers are in bloom, and the lakes glisten with turquoise hues, while the warmer and longer days offer ample time for exploration. However, summer can bring peak crowds and prices. Consider September for quieter visits and potential savings if it’s possible for you to sneak away during that time.

Lake Moraine in the Summer

Getting Around

Let’s tackle the logistics of getting around this stunning region first. Renting a vehicle in Calgary is highly recommended.. Having a rental car offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to travel at your own pace. This is especially valuable if one of the kids needs a break or if you need to make a quick pit stop. With a rental car, you have the freedom to cater to your family's needs throughout your journey.

Explore a range of rental agencies at Calgary International Airport, conveniently situated on the Departures level. We recommend securing your rental vehicle ahead of time to ensure a seamless start to your adventure.

While rental cars can be pricey, Turo offers a more affordable option to pick-up at the airport. Alternatively, airport shuttles like Banff Airporter offer reliable options for travelers needing transportation to the Bow Valley.

For those arriving car-free, Roam transit provides convenient transportation between Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Purchase Your Park Passes

To access both Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park, a park pass is required. You can conveniently acquire your park pass through the official Parks Canada website or Kananaskis Country's visitor webpage. Additionally, park passes are available for purchase at designated booths at Parks Canada entrances. Many visitor centers in the area also provide this service.


Explore scenic hiking trails suitable for all ages, uncover hidden gems during a family-friendly nature walk, or embark on a thrilling bike ride through the picturesque surroundings. 

If you’re eager to explore Kananaskis, consider a camping adventure at Sundance by Basecamp. In the heart of Kananaskis Country, Sundance offers trappers’ tents, glamping tents and family tipis for a truly immersive outdoor experience. 

Sundance by Basecamp - Trapper's Tents

Discover the wonders of Kananaskis Country with an array of family-friendly activities! Saddle up for an unforgettable horse trail ride at Boundary Ranch, where scenic trails and friendly horses await. 

Photo Source: Canadian Tourism Commission 

Embark on a leisurely hike to Troll Falls, a captivating and family-friendly trek amidst breathtaking landscapes. For a short and rewarding hike suitable for all ages, explore the Blackshale Suspension Bridge. Make a splash at Barrier Lake, offering a delightful lakeside experience. Consider renting a canoe or paddle boards from Kananaskis Outfitters to add an extra layer of adventure to your day.. 


Enjoy immersive river floats and raft tours with Canmore Raft Tours, offering river views and a fun and exciting way to enjoy the sun, for ages 3 years and older. For a dose of nature, opt for a short and family-friendly hike at picturesque locations like Grassi Lakes, Grotto Canyon, or Heart Creek Bunker Trail

Photo Source: Travel Alberta, Roam Creative

On rainy days, head to Elevation Place, a versatile indoor facility featuring a splash park, waterslide, indoor climbing center, and an indoor playground. Unleash your creativity by participating in a single-session workshop at artsPlace, where options include Visual Arts, Ceramics, and various DIY activities. 

Explore Canmore's charm by biking around the area with top-tier bikes from Rundle Mountain Bike Rental. Choose routes like the scenic Bow River Loop or a segment of the Legacy Trail

Photo Source: Tourism Canmore Kananaskis

Immerse yourself in Canmore's rich history and culture by exploring one of the local museums, such as the Canmore Museum

If you’re considering a stay in Canmore, one of the best ways to save is by booking lodging with a kitchen. This gives you the flexibility to cook meals at home, pack lunches, and prepare snacks for your adventures. Check out Basecamp Resorts Canmore or Basecamp Suites in Canmore, where you’ll find exceptional suites with private bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, full kitchens, and the added convenience of a washer and dryer in each unit. 

Basecamp Resorts Canmore - Three Bedroom Unit

If you prefer more traditional hotel accommodations, we recommend checking out Northwinds Hotel or Basecamp Lodge Canmore offering budget-friendly accommodations and spacious rooms, or Lamphouse Hotel, a boutique motel located right downtown. If you’re seeking a luxurious retreat and want to indulge, consider the family suites at MTN House Hotel, also home to Rhythm & Howl, which offers loads of kid-friendly meal options as well as delectable treats for parents. 


For family-friendly hikes in Banff with picturesque settings and easy trails, consider these five:

  • Sundance Canyon  (5.41mi | 8.7km): A mix of paved paths and a scenic loop through the canyon, offering great views and fun climbing spots​​.
  • Fenland Loop (1.21mi | 1.9km): A tranquil, flat trail ideal for families, winding through wooded marshland with plenty of spots for kids to explore​​.
  • Johnson Lake (1.8mi | 2.8km): Features a gentle loop around the lake with beach and picnic areas, perfect for a leisurely day out​​.
  • Marsh Loop (2.1 mi | 3.3km): Offers impressive mountain views and wildflowers along a dirt path, great for a hike-and-bike adventure with kids​​.
  • Johnston Canyon (3.4mi | 5.4km): An engaging trail that takes families through the canyon to the Lower and Upper Falls, offering spectacular views and a path that includes metal gangways and bridges​ 

Relax and rejuvenate at the iconic Banff Upper Hot Springs, offering breathtaking mountain views for a soothing soak. 

Delight in a family-friendly cruise on Lake Minnewanka, taking in the serene beauty of the surroundings. The Lake Minnewanka Cruise in Banff National Park offers an immersive experience of natural wonders and indigenous history. For more detailed information, you can visit the official websites:

Lake Minnewanka

Elevate your experience by taking a scenic ride on the Banff Gondola, offering panoramic views of the Rockies. Starting at $62CAD per person, you get to see six sweeping mountain ranges and explore the scenic  boardwalk. 

Photo Source: Travel Alberta, Roth & Ramberg

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff National Park is the birthplace of Canada's national parks system, showcasing the natural thermal mineral springs inside the cave and the outdoor basin. It offers interactive exhibits, guided tours, and scenic boardwalks that delve into the cultural and natural history of the area.

For a touch of history and culture, immerse yourself in the exhibits of one of Banff's local museums like the Whyte Museum. With artifacts and art spanning from the early 1800s to the present, the museum presents works by regional, Canadian, and international artists, alongside heritage homes on its property that showcase the lifestyles of Banff's early pioneers.

If you’re considering staying in Banff, be sure to check out Basecamp Suites Banff. Offering spacious accommodations equipped with full kitchens and living spaces, private bedrooms, and multiple bathrooms, you’ll have all the comforts and conveniences of home. Plus, the added bonus of being steps away from the Iconic Banff Ave.

Basecamp Suites Banff - Three Bedroom Apartment

Lake Louise

Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains by taking a scenic ride on the Lake Louise Gondola. Engage in various family-friendly activities at the top, including guided wildlife interpretive walks and grizzly bear viewing.

Photo Source: Alberta Tourism, Tyson Wheatley

Visit the iconic Moraine Lake, situated just a short drive from Lake Louise, please make sure you book tickets on a shuttle in advance for this visit, there are no public vehicles allowed. For more information visit our Lake Moraine blog post. Take in the stunning turquoise waters and explore the lakeside area, which offers family-friendly walks and unparalleled photo opportunities.

Photo Source: Travel Alberta, Mike Seehagel 

Hike the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail, another family-friendly option that leads to the charming Lake Agnes Tea House. The trail winds through a forest, offering glimpses of Mirror Lake and stunning views of Lake Louise from above.

If you're up for some indoor fun, consider heading to the High Rollers. Enjoy a game of bowling, indulge in some arcade games, and have a delightful time with the family. 

Photo Source: Travel Alberta, Chris Amat

Take a scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway, which offers picturesque views of the surrounding mountains. You can stop at various viewpoints along the way without having to leave your car.

Bow Valley Parkway

Head to the Lake Louise Visitor Centre to explore interactive exhibits and learn about the park's natural and cultural history. It's an educational and engaging option for the whole family.

If you’re looking to add a touch of charm and seclusion to your itinerary, check out Baker Creek. Here you’ll discover countless amenities and activities to keep your family entertained. Roast s’mores over the creekside fire pits, enjoy endless outdoor activities, and cozy up for a good night’s sleep in private log cabins.

Baker Creek Cabins
Creekside Firepits at Baker Creek

While seeking family-friendly accommodations conveniently situated near these epic locations, consider exploring Basecamp Resorts. Additionally, remember to join our Explorer’s Club to enjoy up to 15% cashback rewards on direct bookings. Subscribe to our email list for exclusive updates, special deals, and to be the first informed about upcoming offers and adventures in the Canadian Rockies!

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