Cascade of Time Gardens in Banff: All You NEED to Know

Located in the heart of Banff, the Cascade Of Time Gardens (also known as Cascade Gardens or Banff Gardens) is the perfect way spot for a walk from the town center. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, are knowledgeable about plants, or just looking to immerse yourself in the fresh mountain air, we highly recommend making the Cascade Gardens a part of your plans!

Cascade Gardens were completed by 1935. The gardens were built on the grounds of a hotel that burned down in 1930. Since then, the Cascade Gardens have been known to be a stunning year-round attraction in the heart of Banff.

As you walk through the gardens, you will notice the different groupings of plants. On top of the stunning flora and fauna displayed at the gardens, you will also notice ponds, a waterfall, and winding paths leading to postcard-worthy views. The beautiful site is free of charge (with a National Park Pass) and is the perfect activity to add to your summer trip to Banff National Park!

Flowers And Park Headquarters At Cascade Gardens

Where Are the Cascade Gardens Located?

The Pond In Cascade Gardens
Cascade Gardens looking towards Tunnel Mountain

The stunning Cascade Gardens is located at Cave Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1K2, at the end of Banff Ave. Driving up Banff Avenue towards Sulphur Mountain, you will get a head-on view of the Parks Canada Administration Ground, home of Cascade Gardens.

If driving, simply drive over Bow River Bridge, stay left at the lights onto Spray Avenue, and drive past the Administration Grounds. At the following light, turn right onto Mountain Avenue. To your right, you will see open gates. That is where you pull in to find the Cascade Gardens parking lot. Driving to Cascade Gardens from downtown Banff is quick and simple. It is a 5-minute drive (1.5 km).

Google Maps Image Of Directions To Cascade Gardens From Banff
Google Maps driving directions

We love walking down to Cascade Gardens and grabbing a coffee to enjoy along the way from one of the amazing cafes that Banff has to offer. From the center of downtown Banff, it is a 10-minute walk down the iconic Banff Avenue. Whenever we’re walking around town, we stroll up to the gardens and take every guest we have to visit them.

Parks Canada Administration Building - Cascade Gardens

If you choose to walk, you do not need to go to the back of the Administration Building. You can simply walk through the front gates at the tail end of Banff Avenue – you can’t miss them! Once you’ve walked through the gate, hang a right, and you will be greeted by the garden and its beauty. Another great option would be to rent a bike. The ride would only take roughly 3 minutes, allowing you to take advantage of your rental and enjoy other bike-accessible trails in the area!

Fun fact: The building you see was built in 1937, and is the first administration building of Parks Canada. It is the largest structure of its type within Canada’s national parks and symbolizes the development and progress of Canada’s first national park.


One of Banff’s Best Free Attractions

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Taking an iconic photo with Cascade Mountain in the background

Yes, you read that correctly, the Banff Gardens are one of the best free activities. Taking a trip to Banff can make for a costly vacation, so this is great to add to the itinerary if you’re visiting Banff on a budget. Whether or not you’re trying to save a couple of bucks, this lush and breathtaking venue is a must-do for anyone and everyone, as it’s something you can do in Banff in under an hour,

TOP TIP: Looking for a space for a couples photoshoot, a family picture, or an Instagram-worthy venue? Cascade Gardens make for a great option!


How Much Time Do You Need to Explore?

Cascade Gardens Pond Looking Back At Cascade Mountain

Though Cascade of Time Gardens is a beautiful location, it is not a long activity. We recommend planning to stay for a maximum of one hour in the summer. For any plant enthusiasts, we are convinced that you could spend up to two hours enjoying the different types of flowers the gardens have on display and chatting with the friendly Parks Canada landscaping staff.

TOP TIP: When navigating Cascade Gardens, we recommend wearing good walking shoes, as there are quite a few stairs, many of them uneven.


Are The Cascade Gardens Accessible?

The Cascade Gardens Flowers
The beautiful Cascade Gardens

Unfortunately, Cascade Gardens are not fully accessible. A wheelchair or mobility aid user could enjoy the gardens when arriving by car and staying on the path level with the parking lot. That said, Cascade Gardens has many sets of stairs, making it more challenging to navigate. If stairs are not possible for you, we recommend bringing a set of binoculars when possible to make the most of your experience!


Is There Parking?

The Cascade Gardens With Pond And Gazebo
One of the shaded seating areas at Cascade Gardens

When visiting in the summer, we have always been able to find a spot. That said, the parking lot can be quite full on a sunny day. There isn’t a lot of parking available compared to other nearby attractions like the Cave and Basin. We recommend visiting earlier in the day or later in the evening (while the sun is still up) in the summer months to avoid any parking issues.

If it is accessible, there is always the option to find parking right on the other side of the Bow River Bridge and take a short walk over. If you’re staying in Downtown Banff, the best thing you can do is walk to Cascade Gardens.


Don’t Forget Your National Park Pass

A Close Shot Of Flowers In The Cascade Garden
One of the many different varieties of flowers that can be observed

Though Cascade Gardens does not have an admission fee, you must have a National Park Pass to enter Banff National Park. You might wonder why you need a Park Pass when visiting Banff National Park. By purchasing your National Park Pass (either the daily or annual option), the Parks can be kept up and continue to host visitors like you for years to come.

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One of the many shaded shelters

The funds made from National Park Passes are distributed to all Canadian National Parks and are very helpful to the ones that do not get as many visitors as Banff National Park. You do not need a pass if you are simply passing through on the highway, but please be sure to buy the appropriate pass if you are looking to stop at any of the attractions in a National Park along your travels.

Parks Canada Day Pass Rates
Pass TypeRate
Adult$11.00
Senior$9.50
Youth (up to 17)Free
Family/Group (7 Persons)$22.00
Day passes expire at 4 pm the following day.

Wildlife: Beauty and Safety

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Stunning flowers found at Cascade Gardens

Being in a national park means an assortment of beautiful and majestic wildlife. Though it is such a special treat to spot wildlife during a trip to Banff National Park, it is extremely important to know and follow the safest practices. While at Cascade Gardens, you may encounter wildlife such as chipmunks, gophers, elk, and potentially even bears. Here is how you keep yourself and the animals safe.

  • Do not feed any wildlife: Though it may be tempting to want to feed the animals surrounding you, human food can be extremely dangerous. In fact, it could lead to their death. It could harm them and encourage them to come back again for more. They could become all too familiar with humans and aggressive as they seek more food.
  • Bring your bear spray: A super important part of being in the Banff National Park is staying bear-safe. To do so, bring bear spray that is up to date (check the expiry date before packing it) and inform yourself on how to use it properly. If you do need to use it, be sure to clear the area and advise authorities. This is most important while hiking, though you do not need bear spray to walk down Banff Avenue or visit Cascade of Time Garden.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: We recommend avoiding wearing earbuds while enjoying the gardens to stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a safe distance from all wildlife: Though it may seem as though the wildlife in Banff National Park is friendly, it is super important to stay far away from them. Getting too close to close to them can make them feel uneasy, sometimes leading to defensive and aggressive behavior.
  • Do not touch the wildlife: We know it can be tempting to want to pet the wildlife as they are so cute, so steer clear of doing so. Petting wildlife can be harmful to them, could make them aggressive, and they can carry diseases.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

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Tourists enjoying the facilities

Though Cascade Gardens are most vibrant and colorful during the summer months, the Banff Gardens are in full bloom between June and September with gardeners and caretakers managing the pristine grounds. However, the grounds can still be enjoyed throughout all four seasons.

Fall: Enjoy walking through Cascade Gardens while admiring the golden foliage in the fall. Though the flowers will no longer be there, it is still a lovely walk in and around the site.

Winter: During late November and December, Cascade Gardens transforms into what is called In Search of Christmas Spirit. As you walk through the grounds, enjoy a story told through the lit-up animal structures throughout the grounds. This is a fun activity for people of all ages and one of the best things to do in Banff around Christmas. Though tickets are free, they must be booked in advance, plan for approximately 30 minutes for this experience, and dress warmly!

Spring: Though there isn’t as much to do at Cascade Gardens throughout the spring months, it is still an area that can be enjoyed when breathing in the fresh spring air and appreciating the beauty surrounding you.


What Is There to Do Nearby?

Banff Downtown in October

There are many awesome things to do after visiting Cascade Gardens. Here are a few of our favorites.

Grab a Bite to Eat

One thing that we can say with confidence is that Banff is a foodie town. Whether you’re looking for delicious breakfast options, a restaurant that offers a great view, a coffee and a pastry, or a fine dining experience, you can find a spot that fits your needs.

Here are some of our current favorites:

BreakfastTooloulous: Creative options and hearty portions
Coyotes: Tasty southwestern grill
Melissa’s Mistake: Local’s classic
BrunchThe Juniper: Great patio and views in the summer
Farm and Fire: Delicious “bowls” and lovely atmosphere
Bluebird: Cozy vibes and tasty food
Coffee / Quick biteWild Flour: Cafe with allergy-friendly options
Whitebark: Best coffee in town
STOCK: Nuzzled in the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs
LunchThree Bears Brewery: Glass ceiling / dog-friendly patio
Nourish Bistro: Vegetarian restaurant with fun vibes
Bear Street Tavern: Tasty pizza / dog-friendly patio
DinnerBlock: Asian fusion with shared plates
Chuck’s Steakhouse: Great for an upscale date night
Lupo: Italian cuisine with trendy and delicious options

Cave and Basin

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Cave and Basin

Another budget-friendly option close to Cascade Gardens is the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. With an admission fee of only $9 for adults and a 4-minute drive from Cascade Gardens, you can’t go wrong with this location!

Sundance Trail/ Sundance Canyon

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Sundance Canyon

This trailhead is found behind the Cave and Basin site. It is 3.7 km one way and is approximately a 3-hour round trip. We love this trail as it is beautiful throughout the hike, and you can turn around at any time and still feel satisfied with your adventure. Be sure to pack your bear spray and stay aware of your surroundings.

Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola Price
Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola can be found at a short 7-minute drive from Cascade Gardens. This 8-minute ride climbs to 2281 m and offers 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks.

Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Hot Springs-in april

The Banff Upper Hot Springs is yet another cost-friendly activity to enjoy. It is a 6-minute drive from Cascade Gardens. Enjoy warming up and relaxing in geothermally heated water, all while enjoying the surrounding views.

Banff Recreation Grounds

There are so many ways to enjoy the Banff Recreation Grounds. One great way to supplement your time at Cascade Gardens would be to pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the many picnic shelters at the Banff Recreation Grounds. Reminder: Do not leave any remains behind to keep the wildlife and yourself safe! Otherwise, you could enjoy having a campfire (keep your eye on fire bans), playing basketball, enjoying a barbecue, or packing a frisbee to throw around.

Bow Falls

bow falls in banff

Bow Falls is another free attraction we recommend pairing with your Cascade Gardens trip. This 9.1-meter beauty offers incredible views of surrounding peaks and foliage and is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies. At just a 3-minute drive from the Gardens, you can’t go wrong by adding it to your itinerary!


Are the Cascade Gardens Worth Visiting?

Cascade Gardens
Cascade Gardens in the summer

Cascade Gardens are absolutely worth visiting! The garden is open year-round and is free to the public. We prefer visiting Cascade Gardens during the summer when the garden beds are full and colorful.

That said, it is still worth a visit throughout the other seasons, where you can spot some golden colors in the fall and join the winter festivities held at the gardens. The Cascade Gardens make for a serene and relaxing destination regardless of the season.

Cascade Garden is an absolute gem, located on the tip of downtown Banff. If you’re looking for a peaceful and beautiful destination as a garden-lover or someone looking to get outside and breathe in the fresh mountain air, this is the place for you.


Things to Know Before Visiting

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  • Please don’t pick the flowers! They are for all to enjoy and are meant to be left alone for viewing.
  • Respect the gardeners, as they are there to garden and are not meant to be tour guides. They may answer a few of your questions about flowers and plants but will direct you elsewhere if you ask them for directions to Lake Louise, the best hikes in the area, and so on.
  • Cascade Gardens is a pet-free environment.
  • You cannot swim in the ponds, to immerse yourself in water we recommend the Banff hot springs just a short drive away.
  • There aren’t signs everywhere indicating what plants you are looking at. If you want to know plant types, we recommend loading some plant identifier apps on your phone before visiting.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Michelle Brown

Hi! My name is Michelle and I have been living in the iconic Canadian Rockies for the past 7 years. Over the years, I have had the chance to explore countless gems in Alberta and British Columbia. I am stoked to be sharing them with you to help you build an unforgettable adventure itinerary. When I'm not blogging, I am out paddleboarding, golfing, disc golfing, checking out farmer's markets, and trying out new cafes. Happy reading!

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