Johnston Canyon: An Introduction
A fter visiting Gap Lake, I returned to Trans-Canada Highway 1; passed the town of Banff; and exited at the Johnston Canyon and Castle Mountain exit to drive leisurely down Alberta Provincial Highway 1A west — which becomes Bow Valley Parkway at that point — towards Johnston Canyon, which is 56.8 kilometers and approximately 45 minutes away from Gap Lake.
Johnston Canyon: An Introduction
The parking lot for Johnston Canyon is located just north of Bow Valley Parkway — simply turn right and drive for a few meters — and just east of Johnston Creek. There was plenty of parking when I visited — but be aware that during the busy season, vehicles have been known to park on both sides of Bow Valley Parkway for at least a kilometer when the parking lot is filled to capacity.
This entrance greets visitors into Johnston Canyon…
…and almost immediately, visitors are treated to breathtaking views — this one with the Bow Valley Parkway crossing Johnston Creek.
From the rear of the parking area, simply follow the trail leading across the footbridge to the Johnston Canyon Lodge and trailhead on the west side of Johnston Creek.
I had to stop and watch — as well as listen to — the waters of Johnston Creek rushing under the footbridge.
I could watch and listen to the water for hours — but I barely stepped into the Johnston Canyon area.
This view of the footbridge is facing towards the parking lot.
Being in Canada, I found it slightly odd that the distances are measured in miles on this sign.
The distances are in kilometers on this sign, which estimates that you will need one hour to reach the upper falls and 30 minutes to reach the lower falls.
The trail starts its eventual incline into the canyon.
You can see how the water of Johnston Creek carved through the rock to help form the canyon over the years.
The trail — which is on the right side in the photograph shown above — becomes a catwalk; and is designed for almost anyone to conquer the rough terrain with its pavement and safety railings.
I appreciated looking at the natural design of this carved canyon wall.
The trail snakes along the side of the canyon wall — parallel to Johnston Creek.
Remnants of glacial ice are easily identified by their bluish color, which is caused by the lack of oxygen within the ice.
The weather vacillated between cloudy and sunny; and the temperature — estimated to be approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit — was perfect for this walk.
The catwalk ambles over the rocky foot of the slope of the canyon wall.
Water you think of this photograph?
I just thought I would rock on…
…and go with the flow.
Keep your technology. This is my type of “streaming.”
An unidentified woman uses one of the many benches along the trail to contemplate and enjoy the sights and sounds of the waters of Johnston Creek.
More carving of the rock of the canyon is tirelessly and continuously performed before your very eyes.
A time exposure of Johnston Creek during the daytime resulted in the photograph shown above.
The trail to both waterfalls of Johnston Canyon is one of the busiest in the Rocky Mountains of Canada — so I was fortunate that there were not many people when I visited, which was during the late morning and into the afternoon.
To avoid the crowds, you are advised to visit Johnston Canyon either very early in the morning or during the evening.
Although unlikely, ensure that the trails within Johnston Canyon are open — especially after a powerful storm adverse affected the region last week, according to this article written by Dave Whitfield for Rocky Mountain Outlook.
Johnston Canyon is reminiscent of a natural paradise — especially when the crowds are few and far between.
At least one future article will feature photographs of the lower falls and upper falls of Johnston Canyon.
Please stay tuned…
All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.