Disabled Facilities in Banff National Park
The Canadian Rockies’ Banff National Park has plenty to offer people with hearing, vision, mobility or mental impairments, and plans to make even more facilities accessible in the future. Facilities have improved significantly in recent years, and sights and activities that might once have been impossible are now very accessible.
Parks Canada Advice
“Most of the trails over the years have become accessible at least some of the way,” says Sylvina Kennedy, of Parks Canada. “There is parking close to the entrances and the wash services are all accessible. The best thing to do is come to the Banff Information Centre, where the guys there can advise the best trails to take considering mobility and weather.”
Johnston Canyon, Bow Summit, Storm Mountain and Lake Minnewanka boat tours have been some of the more traditional destination for the disabled visitor. The facilities are better and the slopes are less extreme. Coral Creek picnic area and Bow Lake are popular and beautiful places to have a picnic. The parking lots and paved wheelchair paths make very accessible.
Restrictions and Toilet Facilities
It is a great time for disabled visitors to come to Banff. There are still some annoying restrictions like the Banff Park Museum, where wheelchair users can only go on the first floor in the exhibits and discoveries area. But even the visitor centre here has been upgraded to permit access for all and there is also a hearing impaired phone. Wheelchair accessible public washrooms are located within half a block of the Banff Visitor Centre and also the Park Museum and in drive-in campgrounds and picnic sites in Banff, Lake Louise and along the Bow Valley and Icefields Parkways.
Banff Visitor Centre
“The physically challenged can use and enjoy a good selection of trails throughout the park,” says Sharon Morgan, of the Banff Visitor Centre, “Surface treatments range from asphalt, cinders, crushed gravel and dirt. Many shorter trails are level or have only gentle grades. A lot of the Museums now have assistant hearing devices and close-videos for those with sight or hearing difficulties. The Cave & Basin centre is one of the best examples. As well as facilities for those with hearing and sight problems, they have an all terrain wheelchair surface, a huge wheelchair friendly bathroom and guides can even take you around the centre upon request. I would also strongly recommend Sulphur Mountain. It is well built so anybody can enjoy it. All the springs up here are completely wheelchair accesible. Oh, and of course the Banff Gondola, you can’t miss that!”
If you don’t succeed in renting a wheelchair or crutches from the pharmacies in Banff, the Banff Health Unit may be able to provide assistance and rent equipment (phone 762-2290, Monday-Friday).