Imagine eloping on the shores of a crystal clear, turquoise lake as the Sun shines over the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Banff is Canada’s oldest national park, home to some of the world’s most beautiful alpine lakes and waterways. The park’s glacial melts cascade along Banff’s wondrous mountain faces in Summer, filling and fueling awe-inspiring waterfalls, lakes, rivers, streams, and creeks. If you’re interested in learning how to elope in Banff National Park, keep reading this guide to learn all the best tips and tricks I’ve learned as an adventurous Banff National Park elopement photographer!
THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ELOPE IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Late Summer | Early Fall
July, August, and September are the best months to visit Banff National Park! Although July and August are considered the peak season for this National Park, Banff’s beautiful lakes and hiking trails are free of snow and ice during these two warm months. In September, autumn colors begin to bloom, and crowd levels relax. The air is cool but comfortable, perfect for day hikes amongst golden Larch trees.
The Best Places To Elope In And Around Banff National Park
01. Mistaya Canyon
Hike the Mistaya Canyon Trail during your Banff adventure elopement and discover the glacial blue Mistaya River that flows through the curvy limestone walls of Mistaya Canyon!
02. Peyto Lake
A picturesque ceremony spot for Summer elopements, glacial rock flour from a nearby glacier flows into Peyto Lake, turning it a brilliant, bright shade of turquoise blue.
03. Lake Louise
Hike the lakeshore trail and uncover a hidden waterfall before venturing up to Fairview Lookout for a vow ceremony that overlooks Lake Louise’s world-famous turquoise blue waters.
04. Moraine Lake
This sparkling alpine lake rests in the Valley of the Ten Peaks! Surrounded by towering evergreens, couples can access an epic ceremony spot with panoramic views of Moraine Lake via the Rockpile trail.
05. Two Jack Lake
Mount Rundle stands high across the emerald green waters of Two Jack Lake, a perfect outdoor wedding spot for couples that want a dog-friendly celebration location.
06. Bow Falls
A Summer adventure elopement in Banff National Park wouldn’t be complete without a short hike to a roaring waterfall — easily accessed via the short and sweet Bow Falls Viewpoint trail!
07. Johnston Canyon
Stroll along an elevated walkway through a narrow limestone gorge carved by a flowing, glacial-blue creek. Challenge yourself to see all of Johnston Canyon’s waterfalls for a more exciting elopement excursion!
08. Barrier Lake
A quiet ceremony spot just 45 minutes outside Banff National Park, Barrier Lake is the perfect location for an intimate vow ceremony. Multi-day elopements can pair this lake location with a visit to popular Banff hotspots like Lake Louise and Lake Moraine!
09. Private Elopement Location With Rockies Heli Canada
Rockies Heli Canada transports guests high above the Canadian Rockies before dropping couples off at a private helicopter landing spot in the mountains. You and your partner will have epic views in a private location overlooking the Canadian Rockies! This is another great option for couples that want a private or multi-day elopement!
THE BEST ACCOMMODATIONS AROUND BANFF NATIONAL PARK
01. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
A 5-star, luxurious accommodation with unobstructed views of Lake Louise, the Victoria Glacier, and the Canadian Rockies of Banff National Park. Environmentally conscious guests can rest easy at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s brand-new, rejuvenating, eco-friendly thermal wellness facility.
02. Fairmont Banff Springs
Nicknamed the “Castle in the Rockies,” Fairmont Banff Springs is an elevated accommodation nestled amongst the beauty of Banff National Park. Ideal for couples that want exceptional amenities such as a relaxing spa and world-renowned golf course.
03. Moraine Lake Lodge
A cozy, romantic escape surrounded by Banff National Park’s pine forests and mountain peaks. Moraine Lake Lodge is a charming respite for couples looking to reconnect with one another in a place of class and comfort.
04. The Rimrock Resort Hotel
For couples that value premium experiences, The Rimrock Resort Hotel is an intentionally curated retreat within the Canadian Rockies, featuring signature dining venues, plush suites, luxurious guest rooms, and above-and-beyond concierge service.
05. Peaks Hotel and Suites
Couples can stroll along Bow River and experience the rich culture of downtown Banff before returning to the Peaks Hotel and Suites. Just a minute’s walk from the heart of downtown Banff, Peaks is a modern mountain escape with cozy guest rooms and unique suites.
LODGE & BUNGALOWS
06. Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows
Johnston Canyon Lodge is a pet-friendly rustic mountain accommodation rich in Canadian history. With the option to choose between a lodge guest room, bungalow, cottage, or cabin, this unique stay is proud to be family-owned and LGBTQIA+ friendly.
07. Two Jack Lakeside Campground
If you’re planning to elope in Summer, camping at sites in and around Banff National Park, like Two Jack Lakeside Campground, is an unforgettable experience you might want to consider before booking a hotel or Airbnb! I recommend renting an RV or Camper Van when camping in Banff. If you love tent camping, July and August are the warmest months for outdoor stays!
08. Stone Chalet
This stone chalet near the Bow River is a fully equipped condo offering mountain views and a shared, heated pool. The chalet is perfect for an elopement celebrated with close family and friends, with the ability to accommodate up to 8 guests.
09. Solara Resort Rental
Enjoy a local experience with a rental unit at the Solara Resort! With round-the-clock access to a fitness center and spa, this accommodation will feel like your home away from home while on your Banff elopement.
ACCOMMODATIONS JUST OUTSIDE BANFF
10. Airy Mountain Vacation Rental
Airy Mountain Vacation Rental is a rustic, private cottage with a warm, wood-burning stove and evergreen forest views. This rental is close to the Rockies Heli, Canada. It would be a great spot to stay in if you and your partner plan a Sunrise helicopter elopement!
THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
- Glacier Lookouts / Hikes
- Campervan Exploration
- Paddle Boarding
- Helicopter Excursions
- Horseback Riding
- Luxury Hotel Experiences
- Soak In A Hot Spring
- Explore An Alpine Lake
- Waterfall Exploration
- Wildlife Watching
- Banff Gondola Ride
- Lake Louise Tea House
- Whitewater Rafting Tours
- Lake Minnewanka Cruise
- Wildlife Tours
- Self-Guided Scenic Driving Tours
- Chairlift Rides
- Tunnel Mountain Trail Tour
- Evening Wildlife Safari Tours
- Stargazing / Northern Lights Viewing
- Distilleries & Breweries
TRAVELING TO BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Alberta is home to two major airports in Edmonton and Calgary, which gives you and your partner more flexibility and freedom when planning your Banff National Park elopement!
If you plan on heading straight for Banff, Calgary International Airport is the closest airport to the popular National Park. The scenic drive to Banff National Park passes popular areas like Kananaskis and offers beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies.
Edmonton International Airport is also a great option. If you plan on renting a car or camper van to explore Jasper National Park before heading south for Banff, this airport is closer to Jasper than Calgary. If you plan to elope with Rockies Heli Canada, I also recommend flying into Edmonton!
NAVIGATING BANFF NATIONAL PARK
More than 4.5 million people visit Banff National Park each year. It’s an easy park to navigate, but during peak season, it can feel crowded when hiking narrow trails or driving on two-lane roads.
If you hire me as your elopement photographer, I can guide you and your partner to gorgeous and intimate locations away from large crowds in and around Banff National Park. One of the private elopement experiences I like to recommend to couples is a helicopter tour. It’s a private experience with a quiet elopement location away from tourists and epic views.
Lastly, keep in mind that different areas of Banff National Park have different navigational parameters. For example, Lake Moraine can only be accessed by shuttle, and the shuttle can be booked in advance. If you’re eloping at Lake Louise, you can drive to it, but parking is limited. Depending on the time of year and weather, navigational parameters within the park can and do often change. But that’s why I’m here to help ensure your elopement is as stress-free as possible!
You can learn more about road and trail closures and weather conditions on Banff National Park’s website!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR BANFF NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT OFFICIAL
You’ll need a marriage license to officially marry in Alberta, the province where Banff National Park is located! This can be done by visiting a registry agent’s office in Alberta. After you and your partner are issued a marriage license, it is only valid for three months from the date of issue and only recognized in the province it’s issued.
An officiant (legally permitted to do so) must perform the marriage and then send a completed and signed marriage license to Alberta Vital Statistics. After the officiant registers the marriage, you can request a marriage certificate.
You can learn more about making your marriage official in Alberta here!
BANFF NATIONAL PARK FEES & ELOPEMENT PERMIT GUIDELINES
If you plan to visit Banff National Park and its surrounding areas, entry fees, parking fees, activity fees, parking reservations, photography permits, and elopement (special use) permits may be required. If you hire me as your photographer, I’ll assist you in securing all necessary reservations and permits. I’ll also advise you on what fees need to be paid to explore Banff and secure your elopement location.
Weddings with larger groups require a permit when eloping in Banff National Park. If you’re eloping in the town of Banff, you and your partner will need a special permit, no matter your wedding party size.
A park pass is required to enter Banff National Park, either a day pass or a yearly pass. Parking in Banff National Park also requires a fee upon arrival at your desired location and additional activity fees if you’re doing things like camping or fishing.
SAFETY IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Natural hazards are a normal part of the Banff National Park experience. Being informed and prepared before eloping in Banff National Park can help reduce the risk of the impact of such natural hazards.
Respect Wildlife When You Elope In Banff
Wildlife such as bears, cougars, and elk call Banff National Park home. Always be alert and stay aware of your surroundings when adventuring or camping in Banff National Park. Keep your distance from wildlife, and do not attempt to approach or feed any animal(s).
Be Mindful of Weather Conditions When You Elope In Banff
Weather conditions in the mountains change rapidly. No matter the season, Banff National Park’s weather is unpredictable. I always recommend that couples allow a few days as a buffer for unexpected severe weather that can postpone elopement plans. If it’s raining or foggy, we can wait out these conditions until it’s safe to move forward. There is beauty in eloping in light rain or fog though! Embracing this kind of unlikely weather can give images a magical, mystical feel.
LEAVE NO TRACE WHEN YOU ELOPE IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
The beauty of eloping lies not just in the simplicity and intimacy of the experience but also within the location where it’s celebrated. We want to keep that scenery beautiful during your elopement! That way, generations to come can also enjoy Mother Nature and all her amazing wonders. Leave No Trace is an organization that focuses on educating people on sustainability. I’m proud to be a Leave No Trace Aware Photographer and intentionally practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace below!
THE 7 PRINCIPLES:
- Plan Ahead & Prepare
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Others
You can learn more about Leave No Trace on their website.
BANFF NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT ESSENTIALS PACKING LIST
- Passport / ID / Credit Cards
- Elopement Attire
- Sustainable Garment Bags (Check out the Green Garmento!)
- Vow Books
- Base Layers
- Hiking boots
- Long + Short Sleeved Shirts
- Adaptors + Chargers
- First Aid Kit + Medications + Toiletries
- Hiking Packs
- Reusable Water Bottles
- Bear Spray
BANFF NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT TIMELINE
Moraine Lake Elopement
3:00 AM: Wake up and have breakfast and coffee with your partner
3:30 AM: Get ready for your elopement
5:30 AM: Pack car and drive to Moraine Lake trailhead
6:00 AM: Hike to Moraine Lake overlook via Rockpile trail
6:30 AM: Change into elopement attire at the Rockpile overlook
7:00 AM: First look, vow exchange, and celebratory mimosa toast
8:00 AM: Wedding portraits and area exploration
9:00 AM: Hike down to Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail
10:00 AM: Portraits along the shore of Moraine Lake
11:00 AM: Brunch picnic on the shore of Moraine Lake
12:00 PM: Change out of elopement attire into adventure gear for kayaking
1:00 PM: Kayak around Moraine Lake
Elopement Outside of Banff
12:00 PM: Get Ready at Airbnb
3:00 PM: First look at Airbnb
4:00 PM: Drive to Rockies Heli, Canada
5:00 PM: Arrive At Rockies Heli Canada base
6:00 PM: Fly to a private mountain-top elopement location via helicopter
6:30 PM: Vow ceremony at private mountain-top elopement location
6:45 PM: Champagne toast, picnic, & sunset portraits
8:00 PM: Fly back to Rockies Heli Canada base
READY TO ELOPE IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK?
If you and your partner love the idea of a Banff National Park elopement and need help figuring out all the details of your dream ceremony, you can share your love story, vision, and more with me here! You can also check out where I’m headed this year on my travel page and download my free ‘How To Choose Your Dream Elopement Destination’ guide! I can’t wait to help you and your partner create an intentional elopement experience at Banff National Park!