- Fun destination for a mini-break in Banff National Park
- Dog-friendly cabins
- Great location with lots of things to see and do nearby
Castle Mountain area in Banff National Park is a great location for a quick getaway. There are some fun natural attractions nearby, including; the Bow River, Silverton Waterfall, and views of Storm Mountains. We also went on a half-day trip to Lake Louise where it still looked, and felt, like winter!
Castle Mountain is located just off Highway #1 at Castle Junction, where the #1 intersects with Highway #93. After exiting the highway you will cross an electrified wildlife ‘mat’, the Bow River, and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. If you are driving from Banff and want a slower more scenic route, where you are more likely to see wildlife, take the old Bow Valley Parkway route.
Located in Banff National Park, Castle Mountain is halfway between Banff Townsite and Lake Louise. Situated on a fault line, Castle is an ancient mountain that was thrust up by a younger mountain below. Named for its’ castle like appearance, Castle Mountain was known as Mount Eisenhower from 1946-1979, a pinnacle on Castle Mountain is still referred to as Eisenhower Tower.
The area is rich in natural sights to explore and it also has a few interesting historical sites, including a 19th century mining settlement called Silver City, and a memorial to a WWI Internment Camp, which mainly made up of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Also nearby, is the very popular Johnston Canyon. The trail to the upper falls takes around an hour and consists on walkways and trails. You are rewarded at the falls with a cave like peep-hole.
Well worth a visit, this area is very popular and can get very busy. Parking can be limited, you know it’s too busy when cars are parked all along the road. Our moto is always, the earlier the better, to beat the crowds!
This 1 km walk is a bit scary (depending on the weather) but very rewarding. Access the trail via the Rockbound Lake trail parking lot. The Silverton Falls trail is right at around 1/3 km in. It’s an easy walk aside from one section where it was a bit steep, muddy and slippery, but this was in early spring. The double-tiered waterfalls are quite tall at around 50ms.
One of our favourite parts of the trip was our walks to the nearby Bow River. It’s the perfect spot to photograph Castle Mountain, so we were there several times a day. There was an osprey nesting on the top of the big metal bridge going over the river. Neither of us had ever seen an osprey before but we both knew exactly what it was when we saw it’s wing span! An osprey is a raptor, a river hawk or fish eating bird of prey. With a wing span of 70+ inches, they dive at 30-50 km p/h!
Castle Mountain Chalets
Castle Mountain Chalets have a few different dog friendly chalets, all very well furnished and equipped, like a hotel. We’d driven by Castle Mountain Chalets many times on the old Bow Valley Parkway Highway but this was our first time staying here. It was a great location for a mini-break. We loved the fireplace and it was entertaining to watch all the prairie dogs popping in and out of their homes in the ground. They have a BBQ area, small store and gas station onsite. You can also rent snowshoes or mountain bikes. We would stay there again in a heartbeat.
We decided to take a little half-day trip to Lake Louise while we stayed at Castle. It looked like spring at Castle with grass and wildlife, in Lake Louise it was still winter. It’s amazing what a difference a little elevation makes. Our dog Tusk loved all the attention, as normal.
Top 3 Tips
- Take the Bow Valley Parkway instead of the highway, take your time and enjoy the views. You never know what you might see!
- If you visit Johnston Canyon or Lake Louise, go early to avoid the crowds. Ideally you want to arrive before 10am.
- Don’t miss the hidden gems like the Bow River and Silverton Waterfall.
Our Dog – Tusk’s Take
I really enjoyed our little visit to Castle Mountain. It was fun to stay in the log cabins. My favourite parts were watching the ground squirrels, seeing snow again and getting lots of love from everyone at Lake Louise. I also had a good time exploring the river and watching the osprey fly overhead. My favourite walk was up to Silverton waterfalls. We did so much in a short period of time!