In Kootenay National Park, just after leaving Banff, you’ll come across one of the most beautiful canyon hikes in the Rockies. Far from the madding crowds of Johnston Canyon, Marble Canyon is an excellent alternative for those wanting a quieter yet still accessible experience that can be completed in a short amount of time.
I love to take family to Marble Canyon when they visit, and it’s a great addition to a day spent at Lake Louise or for those who drove a portion of the Bow Valley Parkway, as it’s just a slight detour from Trans Canada. We’ve seen Marble Canyon in summer and winter, and although the seasons change, the views are just as stunning throughout the year. Let’s dig into all you need to know to hike Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon Hike Stats
Marble Canyon Parking Lot
About the Marble Canyon Trail
The Marble Canyon trail traverses a stunning canyon using several small bridges, offering breathtaking views of the lengthy, steep drops (some 40m+) created by the erosion of limestone along Tokumm Creek. In addition to the seven bridges, you’ll also catch sight of a couple of natural stone bridges below.
As you continue along the bridges, you’ll gradually gain elevation, taking in plenty of views along the way. The very top provides impressive views, revealing the surrounding cliffs and remnants of grey stumps from the massive forest fire that swept through this area in 2003. Amidst the regrowth, vibrant green trees have emerged, transforming the landscape into a more beautiful sight.
At the end of the fenced trail, a stunning waterfall awaits, and you can stand just above it and marvel as the water cascades into a massive crevice in the rocks. Although the water vanishes from sight, its echoing sounds can still be heard from far below.
The trail continues in a loop, meaning you get to take in the views of the rushing water from all angles. Keep your eye out for the famous red Parks Canada Adirondack chairs!
How Hard is the Hike Around Marble Canyon?
The Marble Canyon hike is one of the more accessible hikes in the Canadian Rockies. While it’s not wheelchair accessible, almost any age and ability can enjoy the views here. The last time we visited, I brought my dad on this hike. He is not a hiker, but he simply loved this trail. The raised boardwalks create an accessible walking space for visitors while providing epic views in all directions.
This hike has minimal elevation gain, and the views start in as little as 10 minutes from the parking lot. If you don’t want to venture to the trail’s end, you don’t have to feel fulfilled!
How Long Should You Plan for Marble Canyon
We’ve visited Marble Canyon in as little as 30 minutes in the winter. In the summer, we spent about 1 hour walking Marble Canyon, allowing plenty of time for photos and to enjoy the stops. I would plan to stay at Marble Canyon for one hour before moving on to a few of the other best things to do in Kootenay.
Parking at Marble Canyon
There is a large parking area at the Marble Canyon Trailhead, across the highway from the Marble Canyon Campground. We’ve never had trouble parking at Marble Canyon, even on a sunny summer weekend day.
Facilities at Marble Canyon
You’ll find drop toilets and a large parking area at the trailhead.
Crowds at Marble Canyon
If you expect Marble Canyon to be like the busy Johnston Canyon in Banff, you will be pleasantly surprised with your experience. Even on a busy, beautiful summer weekend day, we enjoyed Marble Canyon without hardly any crowds. Although it’s well known in Kootenay, it’s not a super popular outing. If you visit in the winter, at sunrise, and around sunset, you’ll likely be among the only people at Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon in the Winter
Marble Canyon is accessible year-round and is a popular winter hike. The raised platforms make walking in the snow easy. It’s a stunning sight to see the Kootenay River frozen in time. While snowshoes are unnecessary, microspikes may be helpful when visiting in the winter.
How to Get to Marble Canyon
If coming from Downtown Banff, it will take roughly 45 minutes to get to Marble Canyon. Head West on the Trans Canada until you get to Castle Junction. You’ll know you are approaching Castle Junction as you approach the majestic Castle Mountain on your right-hand side.
Follow AB-93 S, which turns into BC-93 S when you enter British Columbia. After about 15 minutes of driving, you’ll come up on Marble Canyon on your right-hand side after you pass into British Columbia.
Tours to Marble Canyon
Unless you are visiting Banff without a car, there isn’t much reason to visit Marble Cnayon with a tour group. For those without transportation, there are a few combo tours available:
- [Day Tour] Winter Lake Louise & Kootenay Marble Canyon
- Half-Day Marble and Johnston Canyon Ice Walk Combo Tour
There are not many places to stay near Marble Canyon. If you are seeking a camping destination, you’re in luck, as Marble Canyon Campground is just across the road from Marble Canyon.
The other Banff accommodation nearby is one of my favorites. Storm Mountain is the cutest Banff cabin that offers a secluded cabin escape in the Rockies. They can be found just 10 minutes from Marble Canyon near Boom Lake.
Camping at Marble Canyon
Marble Canyon Campground is a front-country campground open from (roughly) June 22nd to September 4th. These are unserviced, reservable campsites most suitable for tent camping and small motorhomes and trailers that are 15 feet or less long.
Tips For the Marble Canyon Hike
- Most of the Marble Canyon hike occurs in the sun, so don’t forget sun protection.
- In the winter, spring, and fall months the trail often has ice and snow. Microspikes and hiking poles are all super helpful to have. You can rent them in town, or buy them.
- It never hurts to pack water and a snack for hikes in Banff. If you have plans for the Paint Pots consider packing lunch and picnicking in the meadows. Make sure to always pack out what you bring in and dispose of any trash in the bear safe bins you’ll see at a few points on the trail.
- Practice bear safety when hiking. You should always carry bear spray when hiking in the Rockies.
- Dogs are allowed on the trail, but they must be on a leash at all times in Kootenay National Park.
- A baby stroller would be difficult on the trail, we recommend parents who want to tackle short hikes with the baby to bring a baby backpack.
- Do not throw coins into the water.
Other Things to Do Near Marble Canyon
There is plenty to do along the Banff-Windermere Highway, though Lake Louise and Moraine Lake often overshadow it. However, you could easily spend a full day, or three, exploring! Whether you are based in Banff or driving to Radium Hot Springs or Invermere, put some time aside for the following:
Vista Lake Viewpoint: You’ll pass this while driving the highway, and while it is a viewpoint, it’s also possible to hike down to Vista Lake!
Arnica Lake: If it’s late September and you are looking for a fabulous larch hike, you will not be disappointed by hiking to Arnica Lake.
Stanley Glacier: The Stanley Glacier is a popular destination for hikers and offers everyday hikers the chance to get up close to a glacier.
Numa Falls: The falls are approximately 40 meters high, surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains. Numa Falls is a part of the Kootenay River system and is fed by glacial meltwater, which contributes to its stunning beauty. The falls and surrounding area are considered a protected wilderness area known for their abundant wildlife and diverse plant life.
Floe Lake: For those seeking a longer day or a fun backcountry trip, look into Floe Lake. This is a 20km+ round trip objective, but once you reach Floe Lake, you’ll see why it’s worth the effort!
Hit Up the Paint Pots
The Paint Pots deserve their own selection as they are so close to Marble Canyon, it would be a crime not to visit. You can hike to them from the Marble Canyon trailhead, or alternatively, they are just a 5-minute drive away from Marble Canyon. The Paint Pots are a collection of iron-rich mineral hot springs that have colored the surrounding earth and water with various shades of red, orange, yellow, and green, giving the appearance of paint pots. They are a popular tourist attraction for visitors interested in geology, hiking, and scenic views.
This hike is easy and doable for all at just 2.1 km out and back. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Kootenay National Park, so arrive early in the morning or late afternoon for the chance to have the trail to yourself.
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service that will connect you right from YYC to the town of 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 prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
- 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!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.