Hiking To The Mistaya Canyon In Banff National Park

Whilst exploring Canada and the Rocky Mountains you’ll be hard pressed to find somewhere that doesn’t offer you a lake to walk around, river to canoe in, wildlife to observe or breathtaking view to feel humbled by. They are around every corner making it unsurprising that this incredible country is such a popular travel destination for everyone from mountain climbers, hikers and backpackers seeking out another adventure to families and couples looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

Mistaya Canyon Hike

During our visit to Banff National Park in Alberta we headed along the famous Icefields Parkway when leaving Lake Louise for Jasper National Park. This not only offered spectacular scenery but numerous points of interest along the drive, one of which being Mistaya Canyon. Formed by the Mistaya River the Canyon is just a short 0.5 km from the highway where there is ample parking before starting your short hike.

Mistaya Canyon

Despite it being a short distance hike don’t let this fool you that the hike is easy! From the car park the Mistaya Canyon Trail falls steeply down the hill which does of course make the hike easy on the way there if not a little unstable under foot however be prepared for some serious thigh and calf burn, panting and complaining from all members of your party on the way back up! It’s inevitable!

Eventually you reach the bottom of the trail where things flatten off a little and at this point you will be able to hear the rushing water in the distance and smell the dampness in the air.

Mistaya Canyon

The first thing to greet you is a foot bridge that crosses straight across the canyon with the river rapidly flowing far below. I’ve got to admit, due to the rock formations of the canyon here being so deep it’s actually very difficult to see a lot of the river in the canyon (despite being able to hear it) and you’ll certainly be hard pressed to be able to take a good photo of the canyon.

Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon

Our visit was in September so perhaps if you head here in the Spring when there is snow melt and greater volumes of water running off the mountains into the river you’ll experience something even more special with a lot more water present.

Once you cross the bridge you can follow the trail for a short distance further down to the river level. As this is upstream of the canyon where the river starts to narrow there are a lot of rapids and very fast flowing water, the noise is incredible. If you are coming here with children I would strongly advise against taking them here as it is incredibly dangerous with no barriers (look at our photo below) – it would be very easy for them to get too close to the edge and fall, especially if the rocks are wet. You do of course have the idiots desperate for social media likes seeing how close they can get to the edge for a selfie.

Mistaya Canyon

We decided like many others at the canyon to bring a packed lunch with us and so we found a perfect spot looking up the river where we had a bite to eat and took in the incredible power of the water along with grabbing a few photos.

Mistaya Canyon

Having eaten, it was back up to the car park and as mentioned at the start of this post, it’s a bit of a killer hike on the thighs – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Planning your trip to Mistaya Canyon

If you are planning to visit Mistaya Canyon and Banff National Park be sure to pick up some essential kit before you leave including a great travel guide – don’t just rely on your phone in your pocket. Travel guides are written by professionals who have sought out the best things to do and places to eat and won’t mean you need to rely on having signal in the mountains.

Banff National Park travel guides

An up to date travel guide can reveal the best days out, itineraries and places to eat along with localised tips and tricks for where you are staying. Take a look at the Banff National Park travel guides currently available on Amazon here.

For the full range of travel guides for Banff National Park and Canada, head over to Amazon here.

Hiking in Banff National Park

Heading to Banff National Park is an amazing adventure but do be sure that you have packed all of the essential items for your visit. We recommend picking yourself up the following items: hiking shoes, hiking socks, hiking jacket, hiking poles a hiking bag and a hiking water bottle.

Latest accommodation deals in Banff National Park

We’ve partnered with Booking.com to bring you the best prices and availability on accommodation in Banff National Park. Use the date finder on the map below to find the perfect place to stay during your visit.

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Have you been to the Mistaya Canyon or planning a trip? Let us know in the comments!

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