We didn’t plan this visit the best, we were coming from a relaxing week in Squamish, and arrived to Banff on a crowded and sunny Friday. It makes it very difficult to camp on weekends like this, so we laid low and camped in turnouts until the weekend was over.
First things first, Banff is beautiful- however; it is filled with tourists, and it costs about $70 per person to enter the park (this is the annual pass cost). With that Said, it is still a park so beautiful beyond words; it's worth visiting.
The first hike we ventured out on, was Johnston Canyon Trail, to the Ink Pots. This is one of the hikes that was recommended in my Fodor’s guide, and it was a great recommendation. Part of the reason why this hike was so magical, was because we went early in the morning before the crowds arrive. This really makes a difference in your experience, I’ve found. The rest of the magic, came from the scenery, the canyon itself, and the ink pots which you arrive to at the end of the moderate hike (about 6.5 miles out and back).
The “Ink Pots” are really interesting- large pools of beautiful colored water form in the sand. Little bubbles form underneath the sand, and bubble up from below. The clouds and the fog that hung over the mountains, made the experience unforgettable.
Now, everyone has heard of Lake Louise, and everyone visits the lake. When you arrive, it seems as if the entire population of Banff is sitting directly in front of the lake, move past this towards the trailhead.
The first mile or so of the trail is well maintained, gravel. We hiked all the way up to the Tea House, and had a piece of chocolate cake (necessary), as a reward. The hike was pretty steep up, and it was a hot day, which made it a little more difficult. But the tea house was very charming, and overall I enjoyed this hike very much.