8:30am, 1:30pm
Departure Time
4 Hours
Duration
8+
Age
Active
Activity
Nov-Apr
Season

Experience Banff’s Iconic Hike: The Johnston Canyon Icewalk

Johnston Canyon is one of Banff National Park’s most beloved attractions, and the wintertime Icewalk is an expedition that all visitors must experience at least once. This guided Johnston Canyon hike takes you along steel catwalks built into the canyon walls all the way to the iconic frozen Johnston Canyon Upper Falls where you’ll have stunning views of the gorge below.

YouTube video

Icewalk: Hike Johnston Canyon & Explore The Area

Your journey begins down the Johnston Canyon trail where you’ll take a gentle walk to the Lower Falls and wander through a natural cave to gaze down at the flowering waters of the frozen waterfalls. The hike will take you very close to the Lower Falls where you’ll see the cascading icicles in the winter sun and take in the serene beauty of the natural formations.

You’ll then continue on to the spectacular Upper Falls—a glittering tower of ice that rises 30 metres above your head. These gigantic pillars of ice are the highlight of the Banff walking tour and ice climbers can often be seen scaling the frozen columns. There are viewing platforms in the Upper Falls that give you a chance to stop and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Throughout the Johnston Canyon hike, your friendly tour guide will share interesting tidbits about the history of Johnston Canyon. You’ll also travel through the prime wildlife habitat and get to explore nature where you may even see elk, deer, or other wildlife.

Don’t miss out on the unforgettable experience of viewing Johnston Canyon’s Lower Falls and Upper Falls in winter. Book your tour today and explore the stunning canyon, its frozen waterfalls, and all the natural beauty of this astonishing environment. Make sure to bring your camera and capture the beauty of this natural wonder!

Travel Logistics & Notes

  • We offer transportation services and pick up from most hotels in Banff. Select your preferred pick-up location during the booking process.
  • We’ll take you to Johnston Canyon in small shuttles with big windows so everyone has a view, and no one needs to park!
  • Travel with us for a more personal experience in small groups for more access to chat with your enthusiastic guide.
  • Please dress accordingly. The mountain weather can change quickly and our Icewalk tours will run in temperatures ranging from -27C (-17F) to +10C (+50F).

More About the Johnston Canyon Icewalk

Johnston Canyon is a renowned natural attraction located in the heart of Banff National Park. This trail is a popular hiking route that takes visitors through a breathtaking journey of lush forests, wildlife, and stunning waterfalls. It’s approximately 1.2 km to the Lower Falls and 2.5 km to the Upper Falls, with minimal elevation gain, so it’s great for beginner hikers. The path follows the scenic Johnston Creek, which has carved its way through the limestone rocks over thousands of years, creating a unique and picturesque landscape.

The Johnston Canyon hike is accessible year-round, but is especially beautiful in the winter. In colder months, the canyon transforms into a winter wonderland, with frozen waterfalls and ice formations that create a magical atmosphere. Crowds are also sparser in the winter, making it the perfect time to enjoy the trail. We recommend wearing sturdy, comfortable shoes or snow cleats when hiking the icewalk.

This tour is recognized as a Canadian Signature Experience – a collection of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found only in Canada.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 5.4km (3.4 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 135m (443 feet)
Guide Quote

Sophie's Pick

"Johnston Canyon is amazing in the morning when no one else is there." - Sophie , Reservations Agent, Discover Banff Tours

The best parts of the tour for most people include the following:

1

Bow Valley Parkway

Travel through prime wildlife habitat on the way to the trailhead in small vehicles where everyone gets a great view.
2

Catwalks Along the Johnston Canyon Trail

Your small group will walk along the steel catwalks built into the canyon walls which allows a spectacular view down the canyon walls to the ice and river below.
3

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

Walk through a natural cave feature for a unique view of the lower falls.
4

Johnston Canyon Upper Falls

Gigantic pillars of ice are the tour highlight and ice climbers can often be seen scaling the frozen columns. There will be a small break so you can enjoy the scenery and take photos.
Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 5.4km (3.4 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 135m (443 feet)
Guide Quote

Sophie's Pick

"Johnston Canyon is amazing in the morning when no one else is there." - Sophie , Reservations Agent, Discover Banff Tours

The tour is 4 hours long which includes 2 – 2.5 hours for the icewalk. The 8:30am tour returns to Banff at 12:30pm, and the 1:30pm tour returns to Banff at 5:30pm.
This half day tour includes transport to popular Johnston Canyon for a guided hike to see the frozen waterfalls. Guests will hike along snow and the steel walkways called ‘catwalks’ built into the canyon walls that give an airy view of the gorge below, and past the lower falls and to the breathtaking upper falls. Please note that this tour stays on the trail, and does not traverse the ice due to safety concerns.

We provide ice cleats that will be attached to your boots that will prevent you from slipping on the ice. We also have hiking poles if you would like to use them for extra stability.

We pick up from most hotels in Banff and at the train station in Banff. You can select your preferred pick-up location during the booking process. For drop offs, our guide will ask you on the way back where you would like to be dropped off either in town or at your hotel.
You are welcome to meet us at any of our pick up locations in Banff to join the tour, and a popular central downtown meeting point is the public bus parking area behind the Mt Royal Hotel (the hotel address is 138 Banff Avenue).

Most guests choose to self-drive into Banff, although please note that you will need to find parking in Banff that exceeds the duration of the tour. You can park at the Banff train station for instance and we also pick up from there. Please refer to the Town of Banff website for general parking information, or the banffparking.ca website for live parking availability. For guests staying in Canmore, you can also use the Roam bus service and disembark at the Banff High School. The closest pick up point to the Banff High School is across the road at the Elk and Avenue Hotel.

This tour does not walk on the ice (as it is fragile, dangerous and you can punch through to the icy flowing water). You will be following the trail and steel catwalks that are built into the canyon wall and allow a spectacular view down the canyon walls to the ice and river below. The steel catwalks are above the canyon, and vary in height from ground level up to about 10m (30 ft).
The Johnston Canyon Icewalk in winter is considered a moderate to intermediate hike. We recommend a moderate fitness level so you can fully enjoy the tour. We do take the tour at a relaxed pace, although there is some steep areas and elevation gains throughout the 5.4km (3.4 mile) hike. The main elevation gain is done in short climbs (in some cases steep enough for steps), rather than being dispersed over the entire distance. Moderate fitness is recommended to ensure that you enjoy the tour.

We provide ice cleats that will be attached to your boots that will prevent you from slipping on the ice, and we have hiking poles for extra stability if you would like to use them as well.

The day and evening tours are different lengths of time, distance and elevation. The day tour is a 4 hour tour that includes both the lower and upper falls with 2 – 2.5 hours of walking and is a little more strenuous due to the increased distance (5.4km) and elevation gain of 135 metres (443 feet).

The Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk is a 2.5 hour tour that visits the lower falls with 1.5 – 2 hours of walking 2.2 km with an elevation gain of 65 metres (213 feet) and includes a souvenir headlamp (yours to keep after the tour!) to light your way under the stars.

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park, and has a network of steel catwalks built into the canyon walls that allows you to walk right along the frozen waterfalls (rather than directly on the ice). There are two Johnston Canyon Icewalk options, the daytime icewalk is a 4 hour tour that includes both the lower and upper falls with 2 – 2.5 hours of walking and is a little more strenuous due to the increased distance (5.4km) and elevation gain of 135 metres (443 feet). The evening icewalk is a 2.5 hour tour that visits the lower falls with 1.5 – 2 hours of walking 2.2 km with an elevation gain of 65 metres (213 feet) and includes a souvenir headlamp to light your way under the stars. On both Johnston Canyon Icewalks the walk is mainly up above the creek bed on a series of trails and catwalks.

The Grotto Canyon Icewalk allows you to walk directly on a frozen creek bed at the bottom of Grotto Canyon past unusual rock formations, ancient Native rock art, and icefalls. The icewalk is 4.2km (2.6 miles) and has an elevation of 100 metres (328 feet), with a total walking time of 2 – 2.5 hours. This icewalk is generally considered easy, with a few small inclines.

Please be prepared for the mountain weather, it changes quickly and our winter tours run in anything from -27C (-17F) to +10C (+50F). Wind chill can change the temperature dramatically and you will be outside for the majority of your tour.

To ensure that you enjoy the tour, please wear/bring:

  • Photo ID for each adult (18+) for waiver verification.
  • Thermals/base layers/long johns.
  • Snow pants are recommended for this tour and are mandatory if it is below -16C (3F). Otherwise on warmer days, jeans/regular pants over long johns are okay. Snow pants can be rented from stores in Banff such as Snowtips-Bactrax.
  • A warm sweater.
  • A warm jacket. Ski jackets can be rented from stores in Banff such as Snowtips-Bactrax.
  • A hat and mitts.
  • A neck warmer or scarf.
  • Sturdy, warm, ideally waterproof shoes. Winter boots or hiking boots are the best. No heels, ugg boots, flip flops or sandals. If you do not have warm shoes, we recommend a rental store such as Snowtips-Bactrax.
  • A water bottle.

Please note that safety is our first priority. If the guide thinks your attire or footwear isn’t appropriate and compromises your safety on the tour, you may not be able to participate.

It does get icy during the winter season which is why we provide ice cleats during the tour to give you extra grip while you are doing your icewalk. We cancel our tour at around -27 degrees Celsius or -22 Fahrenheit, and would offer to reschedule or refund your tour if this occurred.
There is a 24 hour cancellation policy, which allows you to change/cancel or refund your booking up to 24 hours outside your booked tour (up to 7 days for group bookings).
Tips are not expected, but are certainly appreciated. If you think your guide did a wonderful job and would like to indicate that with a tip, it will be graciously accepted.
Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 5.4km (3.4 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 135m (443 feet)
Guide Quote

Sophie's Pick

"Johnston Canyon is amazing in the morning when no one else is there." - Sophie , Reservations Agent, Discover Banff Tours

  • The minimum age is 8 years.
  • All children aged 15 years and under must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian.
  • All adults must sign a waiver, which will be sent through upon booking. A waiver must also be completed by the parent or legal guardian of any child under the age of 18 years.
  • This tour stays on the trail and does not traverse the ice for safety reasons.
  • Photo ID may be required for identity verification.
  • By participating in a tour with Discover Banff Tours, guests are acknowledging that they understand that we may take video and photographs of them during their tour. These videos and photographs may be used in promotional materials including, but not limited to, social media.
  • This tour requires a minimum of 4 participants, please call the day prior to confirm the tour.
Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 5.4km (3.4 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 135m (443 feet)
Guide Quote

Sophie's Pick

"Johnston Canyon is amazing in the morning when no one else is there." - Sophie , Reservations Agent, Discover Banff Tours

YouTube video

Included
  • Maple cookie snack
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hotel pick up and drop off
  • Small group size (up to 12 guests per guide)
  • Use of hiking poles
  • Professional certified guide
  • Ice cleats
Walking Distance
  • 5.4km (3.4 miles)
Elevation Gain
  • 135m (443 feet)
Guide Quote

Sophie's Pick

"Johnston Canyon is amazing in the morning when no one else is there." - Sophie , Reservations Agent, Discover Banff Tours

Johnston Canyon Icewalk in Banffwith Discover Banff Tours
Bow Valley Parkway winter drive to Johnston Canyon with Discover Banff Tours
Guided icewalk at Johnston Canyon in Banff with Discover Banff Tours
Johnston Canyon winter icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
See ancient fossils on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Lower Falls Cave on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Walk through a natural cave on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk
Photos at Johnston Canyon's lower falls on a guided icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
See the frozen lower falls on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Hike on catwalks at Johnston Canyon on a guided icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Frozen Twin Falls on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
See the frozen upper falls on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Johnston Canyon Upper Falls Viewpoint on a guided icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Learn from your friendly guide on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Hot Chocolate on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Maple Cookies on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Wear ice cleats on the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours