Best Day Trips and Picnic Sites


Johnson Lake, Lake Minnewanka Loop (swimming, beach, walking path, picnic sites, fire pits)

Johnson Lake

Cascade ponds, Lake Minnewanka Loop (swimming, fire pits, and walking paths) - note, day use area was affected by the last flood and the pond may not have water in it.

Cascade Ponds

Sundance Canyon, Banff town site (8km return hike on a paved trail plus loop through the canyon possible, picnic tables and outhouse at the entrance of the canyon)


Ribbon Creek, Spray Valley Provincial Park (hiking and biking trails, access for Troll Falls hike, fire pits, close to Kananaskis Village. - area was affected by the last flood but is being repaired. All bridges are back in as of fall 2015.

Ribbon Creek

Kananaskis Village, Spray Valley Provincial Park (If you want fire pits your best bet is Ribbon Creek below the Village but there is a picnic area at the Village.  You'll also find a playground, coffee shop, ice cream, pond area for the kids to play at, and a paved walking trail called the Terrace Rim Trail that is lined with wild flowers and benches for enjoying views across the valley.  The Bill Milne paved bike trail connects the Village to Ribbon Creek below as do a variety of other hiking trails)

Village Rim Trail, Kananaskis Village

Wedge Pond, Spray Valley Provincial Park (fire pits and a lovely picnic site on a pond that's great for a quick dip on a hot day.  Lots of picnic tables up above the pond and two tables right at the pond on a small beach area.  There's also a walking loop around the pond.)

Wedge Pond

Allen Bill Day Use Area, Elbow River Provincial Recreation Area - note that this area was affected by the last flood and there is no more pond. Kids will still have fun playing in the river though which is braided and great for throwing rocks in. There are picnic tables and fire pits. This is also the access point for the popular Fullerton Loop Trail.

Allen Bill Pond Day Use Area

Forget-me-not Pond, Little Elbow Provincial Recreation Area (hiking trails, bike trails, play by the river, fishing, picnic tables and fire pits. This is a premier spot for a picnic and wiener roast!)

Forget Me Not Pond

Elbow Falls day use area, Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area (Picnic tables, fire pits, waterfalls and short little trails)

Elbow River at Elbow Falls Day Use Area

Beaver Lodge day use area, Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area (Simple area with walk-in picnic tables and a great little hiking trail along a creek and beaver ponds.  This day use area sees less traffic than most and lots of fun can be had along the creek)

Beaver Lodge Trail

Quarry Lake, Canmore (bring everything for a day at the beach.  Plan to swim on hot days.  No fire pits and few tables so bring a blanket for an old fashioned picnic)

Quarry Lake

White Fish day use area, Bow Valley Provincial Park (access point for the Many Springs trail, hiking along the Bow River, picnic tables and fire pits beside the river)

White Fish Day Use Area on the Bow River

Lower Lake day use area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (another lovely spot right on the Lower Lake with fire pits.  Alternately, park at William Watson Lodge and follow the paved trail down to a very scenic spot right on the lake where kids can play on the boulders leading down to the beach and throw rocks in the water.  There are a few benches here but no tables.  This is also the access point for the Lower Lake Trail which follows the lake to Canyon Day use area)

Lower Lake below William Watson Lodge

Upper Kananaskis Lake day use area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (access point for Rawson Lake, hiking possible towards Interlakes along the lake, picnic tables and fire pits beside the lake, canoeing)

Upper Kananaskis Lake

Cat Creek day use area, Cat Creek Provincial Recreation Area (access point for the lovely Cat Creek waterfall hike, fire pits beside the Highwood River, great place for kids to throw rocks in the river)

Cat Creek Falls

Sheep Falls day use area, Sheep River Provincial Park (waterfalls are a short walk from the day use area and are much bigger than Elbow Falls.  Lovely picnic site with fire pits)

Sheep Falls

Sandy McNabb day use area, Sheep River Provincial Park (interpretive hiking trail with views over the Sheep River, tables and fire pits right beside the Sheep River) - note that this area was affected by the floods of 2013 and is not open yet as of 2016.

Sibbald Lake day use area, Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreation Area (access point for Deer Ridge Trail, interpretive trail, fire pits and tables beside the lake)

Sibbald Lake Provincial Recreation Area in Fall


For directions and more information, please visit  the official  Kananaskis Website here.  There is information on day use areas as well as all hiking trails in the park.  

For Banff, visit the Parks Canada website here.   


  1. Great list, Tanya. We might just use one of those suggestions this weekend!

    1. Great Christine, glad to hear.

    2. Wow, the pictures have me drooling over these sites. Wish they were closer to home for me.

  2. Wow! What a great list! How on earth will I decide where to go first! We're heading to the mountains for the day on Sunday (my perfect Mother's Day) and wondering if you could pick your favourite 3?? Thanks for putting this together!

    1. Kan. Village ( hike to Troll Falls)
      Beaver lodge (hike beaver flats trail and bike closed highway. Park at closed winter gate at Elbow Falls.)
      Sundance canyon

    2. Tanya, we did the Troll Falls hike in the morning yesterday and then walked around the river in Canmore in the afternoon. It was a perfect day! Thanks for the suggestions. Everyone had a great time.

  3. Thanks! I really appreciate it.

    1. Glad you had a fun day and that you liked Troll Falls. We're heading to Canmore today to bike along the river.

  4. Thanks for the information. I helps me a lot :)

  5. Thanks Tanya,
    was just wondering what to do on our trip to Kananaskis

  6. The Sandy McNabb day use area has been closed since the 2013 floods. The road down is gated and was partly washed away. You can still walk down but there are no facilities left. I have pictures but don't know how to add them to this note. Parks have promised to restore the dayuse for the last few years but nothing has happened yet. regards, Derek

    1. Thanks Derek. I will update the post. I haven't been down there since the flood myself.

  7. Mount Lorette Day Use area has fire pits, and a series of ponds with paved pathways. Good for a picnic and easy stroll for preschoolers, or elderly in wheelchairs. We stop there to use the bathroom, before hiking along Sandy trail/Troll Falls. Thank you for this list. We enjoy weiner roasts with grandchildren, and often struggle to find fire pits.