The jaw dropping scenery of the Bow Valley Parkway leaves heads twisting to and fro as if in a scenic wilderness tennis match. With iconic mountains and plentiful wildlife, the parkway is one of the top five natural attractions named by Trip Advisor. Tucked into pine woods and forests among stunning vistas, between Banff and Lake Louise, are three sets of cozy cabins in Banff National Park, with a deep heritage and surrounded by natural beauty.
Originally built as motor bungalow camps by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the lodging provided accommodation for a new wave of tourists arriving in western Canada.
Moving between the luxury hotels being built by the railway, such as the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, the camps were welcome stopovers.
Canada’s oldest National Park is also its most popular. With 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles) of protected nature delivering astonishing vistas at every turn, the UNESCO World Heritage site is a world renowned destination. With over 4 million visitors per year, Banff and Lake Louise hotels can be very busy.
The Parkway Cabin Collection offers three unique and quieter places to stay within the park. Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows, Castle Mountain Chalets and Baker Creek Mountain Resort provide a peaceful and rejuvenating getaway.
Each property includes private cabins with porches, kitchens and living areas, mountain views and trails outside the cabin door.
Before making plans for your stay in Banff National Park, please consult travel information and advisories provided by Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
Cabins in Banff National Park
This article is written in partnership with The Parkway Cabin Collection. All opinions on these secluded cabins in Banff National Park are our own.
The Parkway Cabin Collection map – Cabin rentals near Banff
The Bow Valley Parkway (HWY 1A) parallels the Trans Canada Highway (HWY 1) between Banff and Lake Louise.
The slower 60 kph speed limit on the Bow Valley Parkway provides some of the best opportunities for viewing wildlife in Banff National Park, as well as a cycling paradise in summer.
The Bow Valley Parkway showcases three of the do-not-miss destinations of Banff National Park. Johnston Canyon, with its series of waterfalls, postcard perfect Castle Mountain and the trainspotting mecca, Morant’s Curve.
Please note the first 17 km of the Parkway from the east Banff entrance is closed from 8pm to 8am from March 1 through June 25. In spring much of the wildlife is birthing young and this closure allows for more tranquility.
Beginning in 2022, Parks Canada announced the following 3 year pilot project. Full information on the program can be found here.
- From May 1 to June 25, and September 1st to 30th, the Bow Valley Parkway Cycling Experience restricts public vehicles on the parkway’s 17 km eastern end, from the TransCanada-Highway junction to Johnston Canyon.
- Vehicle access to the west section of the parkway between Johnson Canyon and the Whitehorn Road junction at Lake Louise (31km) remains open.
We highly suggest checking with Parks Canada for the most recent updates regarding access to the Bow Valley Parkway.
What is the best season to stay in a cabin in Banff National Park?
Which season would you pick to rejuvenate in a mountain cabin? Ice skate or snowshoe outside a log cabin snuggled under marshmallow mounds of snow?
Return with your family from a mountain hike to a heritage cabin where autumn trees shiver yellow leaves on a private porch?
Cycle by wildflowers and glacial streams back to a quaint and charming cabin?
Having spent decades visiting the Bow Valley Parkway, we can say no season is a bad season. However, if visiting in winter be prepared for driving in snowy conditions.
Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows
” You can actually stay here?”
I can’t help but smile as the first time visitor to Johnston Canyon gazes longingly at the secluded cabins in Banff National Park. The cozy heritage cabins snuggle in the forest at the edge of one of the most spectacular natural scenes in the park.
For centuries the canyon has been welcoming visitors. In the 1600’s Stoney First Nations peoples would come into the valley on hunting and trapping expeditions. By the mid 1800’s British explorers arrived. Soon after, railway crews connecting the vast expanse of Canada followed.
In 1885 a gold-seeking prospector named Johnston began panning the canyon creek. No gold was ever found but Johnston’s name lives on in the canyon.
Opening in 1926, Johnston Canyon became home to a small bungalow motor camp and cabins. Today the updated cabins retain their heritage charm. The cabin rentals near Banff come in various sizes and details of the cabins can be found here.
We have yet to stay at Johnston Canyon. However, the thought of being able to wake up early, drinking coffee on the private porch, listening to glacial water flowing through the canyon decreases my stress level at the thought of it.
Beginning at Johnston Canyon Lodge, on a semi-paved and fenced path, with cat walks attached to canyon walls, the gently inclining trail hike through the canyon begins.
Walking 20 minutes or 1 km, hikers arrive at the Lower Falls. Another 45 minutes or 2 km, with a few moderate inclines, the Johnston Canyon Upper Falls are visible.
From the Upper Falls, another 3 km along the trail leads to five pristine aquamarine pools named the Ink Pots.
If hiking the trail in winter we highly suggest micro spikes or icers on your boots, as the trail can be icy.
During the summer season, day hikers and guests of the Banff cottages can enjoy the on-site Market Café, the Blackswift Bistro and a snack shop. In winter all of these facilities are closed. However, washrooms are available at the main parking lot.
These cabins for rent in the Banff area are open seasonally from mid May to mid October. Check the Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows website for specific dates.
Castle Mountain Chalets
In 1939, at the intersection of the roads to Radium Hot Springs and the main highway, a motor bungalow camp was constructed. In winter, one cabin would be left open and stocked with food and supplies for stranded travellers.
Today Castle Mountain Chalets, located centrally between Banff and Lake Louise, provide an ideal home base to explore Banff National Park and beyond.
The cabins are self catered and come with full kitchens, as well as BBQs provided on the property to share. Although there is no on site restaurant, the General Store offers basic snacks and drinks.
Our incredibly spacious one bedroom chalet also had a locked outdoor storage room for bikes or skis. Having risen early in Calgary to cycle the Bow Valley Parkway on many occasions, I am dreaming of riding from the cabin to the parkway in one minute.
Locals and visitors alike can be forgiven for overlooking these cabins in Banff National Park. One of the most recognizable peaks in the world, Castle Mountain, towers over the chalets like a giant protector. The panorama in any season is stunning.
The quiet forest area of Castle Junction has multiple hikes and cross country ski trails. Putting on our snowshoes we begin our adventure right from the cabin door. Although we brought our own equipment, snowshoe rentals are available at the front desk.
In summer the hike to Silverton Falls is a short, slightly inclined walk across the road from Castle Mountain Chalets. Please be advised that in winter the viewpoint lookout poses an avalanche danger and as such we do not recommend a winter hike to Silverton Falls.
Baker Creek Mountain Resort
At the confluence of Baker Creek and the Bow River, Baker Creek Chalets originated in 1949, as an overnight stop to take in the beauty of the Banff to Lake Louise coach road. The bungalow style camp served as an overnight stay for adventurous travelers and tourists journeying from Lake Louise or Jasper.
In 1986, when the property came up for sale, the new owners began transforming the camp style accommodations into today’s pristine Baker Creek Mountain Resort.
Staying at a cabin along the creek, we gaze over our outdoor deck, at the red Adirondack chairs circling fire pits. While grizzly bear bookends offer up hiking and wildflower guides on the wooden kitchen table, the red plaid curtains frame the log cabin walls.
The travertine tiled bathroom is stocked with Indigenous-owned Mother Earth Essential peppermint and sage products. Pillow soft towels, usually found in five star hotels, and a crackling fire in the wood burning fireplace, soothe my pandemic frayed nerves.
To add to the quiet bliss, cell service is not available. Satellite WIFI allows for checking of email messages.
With a kitchen, including a small freezer, hot plate and convection oven, guests can cook their own meals. The café at the office opens at 7:30am with a small selection of breakfast sandwiches, pastries and coffee.
There is no on site restaurant at this time, however staff are happy to make dinner reservations in nearby Lake Louise.
Visiting in winter, ice skating, snow shoeing, cross country skiing can begin steps from the cabin door. Fat bikes are available year round.
Should you want to venture away from the resort, Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Ski Resort are only a 10 to 15 minute drive on the Bow Valley Parkway.
Video – The Parkway Cabin Collection
We hope you will click on Dave’s video below to see the beauty of the Bow Valley Parkway and its Parkway Cabin Collection for yourself. Fingers crossed this is the year you can visit!
Now the question is which season will you pick?
When booking use code BVP for a 10% savings.