Stroll through Johnson Canyon in the Canadian Rockies
We will explore Johnson Canyon in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Delegates will depart by bus from the Banff Park Lodge. The hike through the canyon is rated "easy," and there are suspension walkways bolted to the steep and shear canyon walls. The walk to the Lower Falls is wheelchair-accessible.
The canyon is about 30 m deep and as narrow as 6 m wide in sections. Seven waterfalls will be visible on the walk, and we will traverse through a small, misty cave. Large potholes will also be seen. In October, we expect to see colorful leaves, and depending on the weather, water levels may be lower, which will make it easier to see the huge polished rocks at the bottom of the canyon.
The trip can be self-guided, but we will also have the chance as a group to discuss the geological history of the area. Rocks encountered include Mississippian carbonates of the Rundle Group, and fossils will be visible from the walkways. Depending on the destination, the hike can be about 2.4 km round-trip to the Lower Falls or roughly 5 km to the Upper Falls. On the way to the Upper Falls, rocks of the Pennsylvanian/Permian Rocky Mountain Group, including sandstone, dolomite, and phosphatic siltstone, are visible. The contact with the Sulphur Mountain Group is near the Upper Falls.
Trip Details Delegates will depart early Wednesday morning (after breakfast) at the Banff Park Lodge by chartered bus. The Canyon is about 25 km from Banff and we will make a couple of stops at overlooks on the way to and from the Canyon. This will be an all-day trip, and we will return in time for late afternoon/evening activities. A boxed lunch, water, and snacks will be provided. We will likely be out of cellphone reception for most of the day, as well leave Banff.
Participants should consider their physical fitness when registering for the trip. Overall, there is a shallow grade and about 200 m elevation gain. Elevation will be generally around 1400 m. Regular shoes are fine, but hiking tread is recommended. A warm jacket and rain gear may be useful given unpredictable fall weather and higher elevations.