Taking shuttles and public transit is the best way to experience Banff National Park. However, if you wish to drive, plan ahead and expect congestion, traffic restrictions and limited parking from mid-May until mid-October, week-ends and statutory holidays. A little preparation will help ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
- Obey posted speed limits: 90 km/hr max (56 mph) on major routes and 60 km/hr max (37 mph) on secondary roads unless otherwise posted.
- Snow tires or chains are required by law for travel on Hwy #93N / Icefields Parkway (Banff National Park) and Hwy #93S / Banff-Windermere Highway (Banff National Park) between November 1 and March 31 or any other period during which the highways are covered with snow or ice.
- Snow tires or chains are required by law for travel on Hwy #93S / Banff-Windermere Highway (Kootenay National Park) and Hwy 1 / Trans Canada Highway (Yoho National Park) between October 1 and April 30.
Before heading out:
- Check the road conditions at 511.alberta.ca, call 511 in Alberta or 1-855-391-9743. For British Columbia road conditions, visit drivebc.ca or call 1-800-550-4997.
- Check BanffNow for real-time parking status or transit and shuttle options.
- Fill your gas tank before your trip and bring extra windshield washer fluid.
- Ensure your vehicle has snow tires in winter—look for the snowflake or “M+S” symbol. Snow tires are mandatory on some mountain roads. Visit Transport Canada website for additional winter driving safety tips.
- Have a safety kit in your vehicle that includes:
- Cell phone or satellite phone with charger (Cell phone coverage is not reliable throughout the national park)
- Satellite emergency communication device like SpotX, inReach or Zoleo, and know how to use them.
- Water and food
- Warm clothing
- First aid kit
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Extra batteries
- Candle in a deep can and matches
Start early and complete your drive, with time for exploration and stops along the way, during daylight hours. In winter, the sun sets early.
During your drive:
- Be prepared for a variety of conditions; it may snow in summer at higher elevations.
- Slow down in bad weather, if visibility is poor or if the road is snow covered.
- Watch out for black ice, especially on bridges and near water.
- Make allowances for other drivers, who may be in a hurry, lost, or distracted by the scenery.
- Watch out for cyclists. They may be difficult to see, especially from an RV. Do not drive on the road shoulder.
- The use of cruise control is not recommended.
- Be especially cautious at dusk and dawn, when many animals are most active, and visibility is poor.
- If you see an animal by the road slow down and warn other motorists by flashing your hazard lights.
- Where there is one animal, expect others nearby.
- Wildlife may be on or near any park road. Roadside fencing does not keep all wildlife off the road.