Accessible Alberta: Five Barrier-Free Things To See And Do In Banff

Banff Hot Springs

If you want to take a dip in one of the most well-known geothermally heated pools in Canada, I have great news for you: Banff Upper Hot Springs are completely accessible!

Accessible parking, drop off areas, change rooms and washrooms are available on site. Submersible wheelchairs may be borrowed at the reception desk (based on availability).  Entry is first come, first served, so I recommend calling ahead to ask what times are typically the least busy.

Please see the Banff Hot Springs website for details on Covid precautions, hours, and admission.

Two young boys having fun in the pool

Banff Gondola

Enjoy breathtaking mountain views from the accessible observation deck atop Sulphur Mountain.  This fully accessible cable car ride will reward you with epic views, and once you reach the summit, all 4 levels within the observation complex are accessible by elevator.

Handicapped parking can be found within 30 meters of the entrance, and there is ramp access into the building.

Don’t worry about holding up the line when accessing the gondola.  Cabins come off the track to load and unload passengers, allowing you as much time as you require to board. The gondolas can accommodate most standard-sized manual and motorized wheelchairs, walking frames, and assistance devices with a limit size of 31″ wide and 41″ long and a total weight limit of 320 kg.

Strollers (unless they serve as a medical necessity) are discouraged due to space constraints in the summit facilities.  Please see their website for details, Covid precautions, hours, and admission rated.

View of Banff from mountain top

Fenland Trail

The Fenland Trail is an easy and short day-hike in the town of Banff. There are great opportunities to see wildlife, like elk! The trailhead begins along Mount Norquay Road. It is a pleasant and scenic walk along a flat looped trail through the forest, and alongside a small creek. There are some really beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies through trees along the way, and you will certainly observe plenty of birds and small mammals. The trail is wide and well-maintained.

Please Note: Even though this trail is close to urban areas, it’s still possible to encounter a bear, or other wildlife. It is advisable to carry bear spray, and know how to use it, when enjoying the Rockies.

Sundance Canyon Trail

Sundance Canyon trail is a paved path located right outside the town of Banff. It passes the Cave and Basin National Historic site, and continues into the canyon. This is one of the best accessible trails in Canada’s first National Park.

Find the trail head at the large parking lot for Cave and Basin National Historic site (don’t worry, it’s well marked!) If you have time, there are some fascinating written descriptions posted, detailing some of the history of Banff.  Well worth a read.

The first 4km follow the paved path along the Bow River, with great viewpoints of the valley.  If you’re not up for any uphill, this is an opportune point to turn around.

From there the trail winds up a gradual incline. This section is more challenging, as the trail crosses waterfalls and climbs through the woods, eventually reaching the stunning canyon. Enjoy views of the Massive Range, Mount Cory and Mount Louis along the way.

Please Note: Even though this trail is close to urban areas, it’s still possible to encounter a bear, or other wildlife. It is advisable to carry bear spray, and know how to use it, when enjoying the Rockies.

Large male elk eating grass

Cave & Basin National Historic Site

Have you ever wondered how Banff came to exist?  Cave and Basin is literally where it all began!  Take a fascinating journey through the history of Canada’s very first National Park.

Did you know that the thermal springs are home to a species of snail that is found NO WHERE else in the world??  The Banff Springs Snail is a unique species that is extremely endangered.  You can observe some of these tiny creatures and learn a whole lot more about them during your visit to this incredible historic site.

There’s a lot to see and read here, so plan for around 2-3 hours. The facilities accommodate those with hearing and sight challenges, wheelchairs (including a wheelchair friendly bathroom) and guides upon request.

Please see their website for Covid precautions, hours, and admission fees.

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