Planning a Picnic in Banff National Park

Banff from Sulphur Mountain
Picnic View from Sulphur Mountain

Planning a picnic in Banff National Park is a great way for the budget-minded to both save money and to enjoy views that outshine those of the best restaurants.

Select your budget meal from one of the grocery stores in Banff, which cater to those who picnic, or buy it from a fast food restaurant.

Then pick your picnic site and head out, planning to arrive hungry. The only cost is food and transportation.

Food you have to have anyway and picnics offer many opportunities to save money. Transportation can be walking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, rafting or canoeing, public transportation, or driving.

Here are some of our favorites picnic sites.

Cascade Gardens

Veiw from Banff Cascade Gardens
View from Banff Cascade Gardens

There are many picnic sites located in Banff Townsite. Our favorite is Cascade Gardens where we find the combined peace-of-mind from both the beautiful gardens and the view of the mountains.

We pick up our picnic food at either the Subway at 137 Banff Ave, or Nesters Market (formerly Keller Foods), 122 Bear Street.

It is then just a short walk across the Bow River bridge to the Cascade Gardens where we climb the terraces and find a bench to eat our picnic.

Pack out your trash and take time to visit Siksika Nation Interpretive Centre.

Map of Banff Cascade Gardens Area

Bow Lake Picnic Area

Bow Lake Picnic Lunch
Boab Enjoys a Bow Lake Picnic Lunch

Driving north from Lake Louis on the Icefields Parkway you come to the Crowfoot Glacier (33 km/20.5 miles from the southern entrance. The glaciers middle toe feeds Bow Lake, the head of the Bow River.

Continuing a short distance north, the parkway skirts the eastern shore of Bow Lake. The picnic area is slightly off the highway with good parking, rest rooms, and a turn around loop.

Picnic tables along the lake shore provide a view across the lake to the red-roofed Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at the north end of the lake with the mountains around the Peyto Glacier towering above the lodge.

This is one of our favorite picnic areas and we try to picnic there every year.

Map of Bow Lake Area