CALGARY -- As the August long weekend approaches, Banff  is a popular destination, - and this year, even in a pandemic, even without international visitors, isn't looking much different than any other August long weekend.

"With this really nice weather, I wouldn't be surprised if we almost have as many visitors come through as last year," said Angela Anderson, who's the media director for Banff and Lake Louise Tourism.

In a news release on Thursday CEO and President of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Leslie Bruce said, “We are so excited to welcome Canadians to Banff and Lake Louise this year, and with plenty of hotel availability, there’s such a great opportunity to stay the weekend, or better yet take your family vacation here.”

If you are heading to the park's most sought-after locations such as Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, there will be reduced parking capacity, and no shuttles will be operating.  

“When arriving at peak times, be prepared to wait, if you can’t find parking come back in the evening after 5 p.m. for easier access, “Anderson said.

“It’s important to note that while we have a lot of wide-open space throughout Banff and Lake Louise, some popular spots have limited capacity, and it’s best to have a back-up plan in case you can’t get to where you’re trying to go,’’ said Bruce.

With no international visitors in the park this year, there is a lot more hotel availability for visitors.

“I would consider staying overnight and taking your vacation in Banff because hotels have really good safety practices put into place and also that gives you early and late access to some of the really popular sights that people drive out to for the day to visit and during peak times and get really busy,” said Anderson.

Banff generic

 There are lots of accommodations in Lake Louise that cater to families and individuals. Options include Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Deer Lodge, Paradise Lodge & Bungalows, Lake Louise Inn, Baker Creek Mountain Resort and Mountaineer Lodge.

Additionally, with a great deal of parking available, visitors can explore Lake Louise Summer Gondola.

Banff Avenue has been closed to traffic to allow for physical distancing and has increased patio seating all along the popular walkway.

Starting July 31st, masks are mandatory in the town of Banff in all indoor public spaces and outdoors on the pedestrian zone of Banff Avenue.

Banff pedestrian crossing

Public spaces include hotel lobbies, restaurants and cafes and on public transit. Masks are even encouraged on hiking trails, anywhere you cannot properly social distance.

Some options allow visitors to practice physical distancing in Banff such as, going for a paddle on blue-green water, the Banff Canoe Club offers canoe, kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals on the Bow River on Vermillion Lake.

Anderson recommends parking at the Banff Train Station, a five-minute walk to the Canoe Club or downtown.

For help in trip planning or preparing to visit, visitors can contact the Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Visitor Centre for support.