If you haven’t heard by now, part of Highway 1A is closed to vehicles due to Covid. Luckily though, the highway is still open for all active forms of transportation and it’s way better than driving. You can get to all the great hikes and stops on the road, while getting some extra time to enjoy the scenic mountain views. You also get to stop wherever you want and the paths are less busy than they usually are.
For the easiest route that almost everyone can do, park at Castle Junction. From there it is 6km to Johnston Canyon with relatively little elevation so it’s perfect for walking, biking, rollerblading, skateboarding or scootering. Parking is limited at Castle Junction, so if you are going on a weekend make sure you come early.
For those that want a longer ride or can’t find parking, Johnston Canyon is roughly 26km from the town of Banff. There is parking 9km closer where the road closure starts, but this also fills quickly. Fenland Recreation Centre and the train/bus station have plenty of parking and are right beside the pathway which will take you to the 1A. If you take this route there are some great photo opps by the Banff sign at Fenlands, Vermillion Lakes and the welcome sign at the 1A. While there is some elevation, it’s similar to what is on a lot of Calgary pathways.
The cafe at Johnston Canyon is open if you want to fuel up before your hike or bike back. There are also bathrooms and a water refill station. Remember to bring a lock if you want to hike the Canyon. While the bike racks can get pretty full there are plenty of trees and poles you can lock your bike to. Also while the crowds at Johnston Canyon are smaller than previous years, it still gets very busy so you may want to bring a mask.
If you still have energy, you can carry on further down the highway though it does open back up to cars after Castle Junction. Baker Creek is another 20km away and has some great chairs for a rest and a bistro if you want to stop for a meal. Lake Louise is another 12km away and if you don’t want to ride all the way back, you can take the bus back to Banff with your bike. Be aware that spaces on the bus for bikes are limited due to Covid so you may have to split up if you are in a group.
The highway has just been freshly paved so it’s great for almost all wheels. You do still have to pay some attention to the road as Parks vehicles will occasionally drive by. As with most places in Banff, bear spray is recommended.
After you’ve biked the highway, consider filling out this survey, there may be a chance that the road closure wouldn’t be a once in a pandemic thing.