Some of the best scenery and wildlife viewing in the world can be found in Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, Canada. Depending on temperatures, mid-May usually provides fantastic opportunities to see grizzly bears, black bears, deer, elk, caribou, mountain goats, bald eagles, wolves, moose, porcupines, and bighorn sheep. The scenic opportunities include the glaciers along the Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies.
How to Get to Banff and Jasper
If traveling by air, fly into the Calgary International Airport, airport code YYC. From there you can rent a car and travel about 90 miles west to Banff National Park. Continue another 180 miles north-north-west to Jasper National Park. Once in Banff, the drive itself is very scenic with many viewing areas and toilet facilities along the way.
What to Do in Banff and Jasper
In addition to the wildlife viewing opportunities, there is spectacular scenery, hiking at all levels of difficulty, fishing, and river rafting. If photography is your passion, this area provides a perfect backdrop around every corner.
Where to Stay Near Banff and Jasper
- Alpine Village is a cabin resort with cabins to fit the needs of almost any traveler. It is located in a scenic, wooded location, with views of the Athabasca River and Mt. Edith Cavell. The office offers a small assortment of snacks for sale, and the resort has a 16′ “hot pool” for the enjoyment of the guests. The rooms are clean and neatly decorated. The resort is not pet-friendly.
- Tekarra Lodge offers a variety of cabin choices nestled in a private, wooded setting in Jasper National Park. The atmosphere is very relaxing and the resort is pet-friendly. Cabins are nicely furnished and provide wood-burning fireplaces. The Lodge has its own fine dining restaurant on-site.
Where to Eat Near Banff and Jasper
- Tekarra Lodge Restaurant is a fine dining favorite of travelers to Jasper. Although a little pricey, their menu is innovative and contemporary. Reservations usually aren’t a problem in May, but they are recommended, just in case.
- Soft Rock Café is a great little cafe that offers the opportunity to surf the web or check your e-mail while waiting on your food. They offer an assortment of breakfast items, sandwiches and baked goods, and have a full service coffee bar as well. It’s the perfect place for a good, quick, meal with great, friendly service.
Additional Tips on Visiting Banff and Jasper
- In late spring and summer, the days are long, and it never gets totally dark. If wildlife viewing is the primary purpose for your trip, the best viewing hours will be between dusk and dawn. This tends to get the better of you after a couple of days, so you may want to go back to your hotel/cabin in the middle of the day for a quick nap.
- Be sure to have your camera out and ready at all times. Wildlife is so abundant that you’re likely to see a bear or moose at any time.
- Please respect the wildlife’s space, and remember that frequent and/or prolonged exposure to humans can habituate wildlife, making it unsafe for both humans and animals.