Bring your furry friend! I’ve put together this post to give you everything you need to know about planning a pet friendly trip to Banff National Park.
Dogs are welcome in Banff National Park, provided they are on a leash at all times.
The Canadian Rockies are the perfect playground for both you and your pets, which is why it’s exciting watching more and more dogs visit the area each year.
Between the brand new off-leash dog park and the pedestrian-only streets within the townsite of Banff, there are plenty of dog friendly activities to do both in and around the Banff area.
Bringing a dog to Banff is lots of fun, here are some pet-friendly tips, things to do, places to eat and welcoming accommodations to make the most of your holiday.
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Are you going to be flying with your dog? Read my guide to the best airline approved pet carriers (including the one we use).
Dog Friendly Hotels in Banff
There are several great options for pet-friendly hotels in Banff, including many within quick walking distance to all the downtown fun.
Book your hotel well in advance of your trip, as most hotels only have a selection of rooms that allow pets.
Keep in mind that most hotels charge a pet fee per night, usually around $20. In addition, they request that you don’t leave them in the room unattended.
If you do need to step out, most hotels request that you use an approved travel pet crate and leave your cell number so that the front desk can get a hold of you should the need arise.
Here are my top choices for pet friendly hotels in Banff:
Best Overall + location
Elk & Avenue: this hotel is the perfect location. It’s less than half a block to the main downtown area and is very welcoming to pets.
Upon check-in we were greeted with a goody-bag and in the room was a dog bed and water dish free to use.
There’s a grassy park right across the street and the on-site Good Earth Café has a dog-friendly patio for morning coffee with your furry pal.
Best Hot Tub
The Moose Hotel & Suites: this hotel is located just one block further from Elk & Avenue and is one of the newer hotels in Banff.
Stay here if you love a rooftop hot tub with a view!
Best Budget Pick
The Dorothy Motel: choose this hotel if you’re on a budget and want quick access to go in and out with your dog.
While the prices are low, the quality of rooms is high (it’s very recently renovated). Even though it’s on the edge of town, it’s located in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of the amazing off-leash dog park.
Best High End
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel: I always recommend the Banff Springs for a luxurious stay, also known as the Banff Castle.
If your wallet allows, this is the best place to stay with your pup, as they even allow larger well-behaved dogs.
If you can’t find a room in Banff, there are several great pet-friendly hotels in Canmore only 20 minutes away.
>> Read more: my full guide to dog-friendly hotels in Banff, including a few options for cabins!
Dog Friendly Activities in Banff
There are plenty of things you can do with your dog in Banff.
Off Leash Dog Park
Start your day with a visit to the off-leash dog park located in the industrial area of town, just off the intersection of Compound Road and Hawk Ave.
It’s a beautiful hidden gem where a portion of the forested area has been fenced off.
Cafes and Shops
Come back into town and enjoy coffee and breakfast at either the Good Earth Café or Wild Flour Bakery, both of which have dog-friendly patios.
Stroll around the pedestrian-friendly areas of Banff Ave and Bear Street and enjoy mingling with other furry friend tourists and taking in the views.
There’s also great pet-friendly shops in town that love to meet your 4-legged family members.
Rocky Mountain Soap Co. and Banff Dog House are dog-friendly stores located on Banff Ave and invite you to bring your pups inside while you shop.
Fun on the Water
Canoe, kayak or SUP on the Bow River or into Vermilion Lakes. Rent whichever vessel you prefer from the Banff Canoe Club and show your dog the sights!
There’s plenty of sightseeing to be had in town – try walking down Muskrat Street across the pedestrian bridge to the Bow River Falls viewpoint.
Head up Tunnel Mountain Road to the Tunnel Mountain Reservoir area – bring a blanket and enjoy a quiet picnic, read a book or just enjoy the peaceful views.
Cascade Ponds is a nice large area for a stroll or even a light bike ride, with plenty of picnic areas and stunning scenery.
Johnson Lake is one of the warmest lakes to hang out for a dip. There are a few different areas where you can lay down a blanket and enjoy a beach day in the mountains or do a light hike around the perimeter of the lake.
Dogs are allowed at Lake Minnewanka but only up until the Stewart Canyon Bridge and not any further.
You can bring your dogs to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake though for deeper views of these ethereal glacier lakes.
If you do plan to visit any of these lakes with your dog, I recommend going in the off season or at least during the week for fewer crowds.
Read more about my top recommendations for places like Banff without the crowds.
Pet Friendly Hiking and Trails in and Around Banff
Visit the Marsh Loop or Fenland Trail if you’re in the mood for an easy, scenic saunter.
If you need more of a challenge, the Tunnel Mountain Hike can be accessed from downtown and take most people less than an hour and a half.
Mistaya Canyon Hike. A short, easy hike just off the Icefields Parkway
Big Beehive Hike via Lake Agnes for high views above Lake Louise.
Plain of Six Glaciers (another tea house hike), a moderate hike just under 15kms with everything you could hope for in a mountain hike, including shimmering turquoise lakes and glaciers.
Dog Friendly Patios in Banff
There’s a nice list of dog-friendly restaurants in Banff and it keeps growing.
Here is my tally of the ones that allow dogs (but just remember you will be seated on the outdoor patio).
Magpie & Stump street level patio for tacos and margaritas.
Three Bears Brewery for local brews and and amazing pizza – try the elk meat & kale!
The Eddie for tasty burgers.
Bear Street Tavern for modern comfort food and very welcoming atmosphere for pets.
Melissa’s MisSteak street-level patio (great food and never too busy).
High Rollers for the largest draft beer selection and classic pub fare.
Pacini if you need your pasta fix and extra convenient if you’re staying at the Moose Hotel.
Park Distillery for fun cocktails and great people watching.
Evelyn’s Coffee World on Banff Ave for morning provisions.
Buffalo Mountain Cafe is a great outdoor spot outside of the crowds of town – enjoy fresh baked goods or wood-fired pizza on the cozy patio.
Places You Can’t Bring Your Dogs & Pets in Banff
While there are many patios that allow your dogs to sit with you while you dine outside, most health & safety policies in Alberta do not allow animals inside restaurants.
Essentially, don’t expect to be able to bring your dogs inside.
Attractions like the Banff Gondola and the Mt. Norquay Sightseeing chairlift do not allow dogs to come aboard.
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly gondola in the Canadian Rockies, I highly recommend the Jasper National Park Skytram.
(Read more about dog-friendly Jasper activities and lodging in this post).
Nor can you take them to the ski hills or hot springs.
Pets are also not permitted in the Cascade of Time gardens located on the grounds of the administration building.
Final Tips for Bringing Your Dog to Banff
The weather in Banff National Park varies and can change at a moment’s notice. No matter what season you’re visiting in, be prepared for inclement weather.
Read more about the different seasons and months to determine the best time to visit Banff.
And while dogs must always be on a leash, there are some trails that prohibit dogs due to wildlife corridors, especially areas with a high concentration of bears.
Always check each individual trail before visiting with your pet.
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