Calgary International Airport, 90 minutes east of Banff National Park, is the eastern gateway to the Bow Valley. Calgary is an uncrowded, modern facility serving the more than 15 international carriers and 3 domestic regional carriers. For flight information, contact your travel agent, a local sales representative, or the airlines servicing Calgary, Alberta, CANADA.
Motorcoach and Airporter Service From Calgary to Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise
Transportation is big business in the Canadian Rockies, so it’s first class service from the airport to your door in any of the Bow Valley centres.
Most of these companies take 24 hour bookings, some operate coaches as well as vans and mini buses. Some offer safe, clean, luggage storage as well as sightseeing tours of the Rockies.
Prices are competititive: an adult one-way fare from Calgary to Banff/Canmore is about $35, and to Lake Louise is $40. The Greyhound Bus Lines can be picked up from downtown Calgary, and drop off in Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise: 1-800-332-1016.
From Calgary travelling west along the smooth, all-weather, four-lane Trans Canada Highway, Canmore is 106 km (68 mi), Banff is 130 km (81 mi) and Lake Louise is a further 64 km (39 mi). Kananaskis Village Resort can be reached first by travelling west on the Trans Canada Highway for 60 km, and then by the two lane, all weather road, Highway 40 South for 26 km.
There are several other ports of entry to the Rockies, mainly from the northwestern US and BC, as listed below. It is less common to drive clear across Canada in the winter….. and can be a dangerous undertaking at times! But if you want to see Canada that way, just follow the Trans Canada Highway (#1) and you’ll get here eventually. By the way, the Trans-Canada is the longest paved highway in the world.
Travelling times to and from the Bow Valley have been calculated with some important factors in mind. Using the quickest and most often used routes, where speed restrictions are 90 km/h in the National Parks and in the province of BC and 110 km/h on the Trans-Canada east to Calgary.
On routes west or south from Banff, through BC, expect steep hills, corners with speeds of 40 km/h and long stretches where there is no passing and no stopping (avalanche danger). Also, these times are based on dry road conditions, without the following "problems": snowfall, slippery conditions, poor visibility, wildlife jams (cars stopped to see wildlife) and road closures (for avalanche control or mudslides).
Travelling times to/from the Banff townsite:
#1 (east), 7 hours.
Surviving the Drive
The Trans-Canada in western Canada is one of the more dangerous transport corridors in North America. There is a dangerous mix of transports "hauling", and slower motorists enjoying the scenery, pulling trailers OR inept at driving in winter conditions.
In many places it is not divided; head-on collisions are common and almost always the fatal end to someone’s vacation. Look for vehicles passing and "using" your lane! Drive with extreme care and attention; never overdrive the conditions (the speed limit is 90 km/h – but the safe speed for the conditions is 60 km/h).
Your vehicle must be equipped with proper snow tires and seatbelts are mandatory in Alberta and BC. Obey the signs that say NO STOPPING, as these indicate you are in an avalanche area. Check the weather forecast and road conditions for your entire route, and don’t set out unless you can handle the driving conditions.
Passports are required for citizens of all countries with the exception of the USA. Citizens or permanent residents of the USA may enter Canada without passports or visas; however, their visitors should carry identification to prove citizenship, such as: Naturalization Certificate or Birth Certificate. In order to prove permanent US residence, a voter’s registration card or social security card with picture ID is acceptable.