Location: Banff – Central Park (right next to the Banff Park Museum at 91 Banff Ave)
Directions: Take Banff Ave to Buffalo Street – turn right. Take the first left, into the Central Park parking lot.
Parking: Free parking in adjacent parking lot.
Surrounding Park Area: This playground is situated in Central Park, which is a huge swath of green space next to the river. There’s plenty of room for kids to run around the park here.
Age Range: 0 – 12
Ground Cover: Grass and wood chips
Shade: There are plenty of trees in the park, and there’s a gazebo a short walk away.
Seating: A bench is integrated into the playground, but oddly, it’s facing away from the structure. However, there are many picnic tables scattered across Central Park.
Accessibility: Not accessible.
Playground Features: There are two slides. To get to them, kids can climb a climbing wall or a grassy hill (there’s a green plastic grippy thing in the grass to help prevent slips). This is a natural playground, so the other features are designed to look like part of the natural landscape of Banff. A large tree stump with four prongs is in the centre of the park. On the other side of the park, there’s a faux-mountain that kids can climb or run underneath (there’s a small opening in the middle). The area at the top of the slide also has a large “fallen tree” that kids can climb, and several smaller tree stumps. The playground is a short walk from the river.
Amenities: Washrooms, water fountain and water-bottle-filling station
Overall Assessment: This is my favourite playground in Banff, hands-down. I love natural playgrounds, and this one does a great job of blending into the stunning scenery. The climbing rock was challenging, but my 5-year-old could get to the top with no problem, and my 2.5-year-old got almost halfway up by himself. They liked pretending that they were climbing a real mountain.
The kids also loved the slides, and they got a kick out of the climbing wall – some of the grips are shaped like numbers.
This playground is both beautiful and fun. It’s a must if you’re visiting Banff with kids.
Katie is a librarian and freelance writer based in Calgary.