A visit to Banff and the surrounding areas isn't complete unless you make your way to Johnston Canyon. You will turn off the TransCanada Highway and travel the Bow Valley Parkway, west of Banff, approximately 17.5 kilometres along a more secluded but equally picturesque route.
Once there, park in the parking lot and make sure you have your gear with you. Are you going to go farther than the waterfall? If so, you will need a pack and some supplies; water, snacks, hat and sunscreen. Mosquito repellant would be a good thing to pack as well. Just in case.
The walk to the waterfalls is a long, easy walk on a constructed boardwalk that trails alongside the wall of the canyon and is sure to please. The water that flows down from the higher elevations in the spring finds the water rushing and carving out the canyon walls.
Winter has the waterfall frozen in place and it is amazing to watch the ice climbers make their way up with ropes, picks in hand, ice gripping boots attached to their feet.
At the end of the canyon are a few different spots to view the waterfall, more prominent with the spring runoff (when the snow melts out of the mountains). You can carry on a little higher along the trail to get to the top of the waterfall, another must see.
If you are so inclined and prepared, the 5.8 kilometre hike further up the trail is a climb not for those with health problems. The Ink Pots, a series of coloured pools, is situated in the meadow and opens up to another world.
A word of caution though - it can be a busy place once all the tour buses get there. Go early in the morning and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Check out the chipmunks scurrying beside the trails and hopping over the rocks in their native habitat. Breathe the mountain air and get out your camera.
Want to stay longer? There are cottages and accommodations in the resort adjacent to the parking lot so staying for a couple of days or overnight puts you in touch with a sky full of stars and Ursa Major - the Big Dipper. This gives you the option of being on the trail before the others arrive. Go to this website for all other information.