Banff, Alberta is a very special place. People from all over the world come to visit the Rocky Mountains to experience all that it has to offer. From its incredible lakes, to its majestic mountains, endless hiking trails, beautiful wildlife and its peaceful nature, the adventure opportunity is endless. Whether you are an avid hiker, photographer, or just wanting to ‘get away’ and explore somewhere new, Banff National Park is the place for you. Whether you stay for a weekend, a week, or a month you will be blow away by the beauty and endless exploration. Guaranteed you will be planning your next trip back before even having left… If you ever leave that is.
Here are ten of many adventures awaiting you:
Ride the Gondola up Sulphur Mountain
Do you want to experience Banff from a bird’s eye view, but do not feel like exerting too much energy? Take the local gondola up! From May 15- September 1, the gondola operates from 8:00 am to 9:00pm, Monday to Friday, $40.00 an adult and $20.00 per child. If you want to save a little cash, take a little extra time and work for the view by hiking up Sulphur Mountain, then riding down at half the cost.
Watch the sunset atop a mountain
Avid hiker? Perfect! The Rocky Mountains will steal your heart, with its endless trails and mountain peaks. Spice things up and head out for a hike later in the day, when majority of people are finishing theirs. You may get some weird looks, but if they were to see the photo’s post hike, after they will understand why and will soon be planning their own sunset hike. Hiking in the Rocky Mountains is wonderful, no matter the time of day, though there is something truly magical about watching the sun go down when you are sitting a top them. A moment you wont soon forget. Don’t forget your headlamp and some extra layers, the temperature will drop quickly once the sun goes down.
If you are going to be watching the sunset from the top of a mountain, may as well add a sunrise hike to the bucket list too! (Photo by @calsnape, an incredible nature guide and photographer!)
3) Bike the ‘Legacy Trail’
The ‘Banff Legacy Trail’ is more commonly referred to as the ‘Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail’, a 20 km (40km round trip), 3m wide trail that parallels the highway from Canmore to Banff. The ride offers outstanding views of the surrounding mountains, such as the ‘Three Sisters’ and Mount Rundle. The train also passes by on occasion! Extend your ride and continue on through to the trail past Banff, alongside Vermillion Lakes, an additional few kms. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as moose, elk, deer or if you are real lucky you may spot a wolf in the area.
Kayak on Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is not far from the Banff Townsite, and it is a must see. You can rent a kayak there, or bring your own. Have a whole day to waste? Pack food and water and spend it touring the lake, from sunrise to sunset, stopping off at various rock beaches. Depending on the time of year you visit, along with the water level, you may be in luck and have the opportunity to do some cliff jumping.
Catch sunrise at one of the near by lakes
Sometimes skipping sleep means you get to see some amazing things. Wake up early, grab a coffee and head out to one of the near by Lakes: Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, or Vermillion Lakes and watch the mountains, lake and sky light up before your eyes. It may be difficult for some of you to rise before the sun, though I promise you it will be well worth it (fingers crossed for good weather and a clear sky). ‘Every sunrise is the start of a new adventure’.
Bring your sleeping bag and tent, and set up camp at one of the many campgrounds in the area. Whether you want to stay close to town at ‘Tunnel Mountain Campground’ or head out to one of the backcountry campgrounds in the area, you wont be disappointed in your stay. If the weather is in your favor take off the tent cover, or lay your sleeping bag outside on the grass and spend the night stargazing. A ‘Million Star Hotel’ beats a ‘5 Star Hotel’ any day!
Big into climbing? Well, don’t forget your harness and climbing shoes. The opportunity to get out rock climbing is endless in Banff and surrounding area. Canmore, 15 minutes down the highway also offers numerous climbing opportunities. They have a great indoor climbing wall as well, at the ‘Elevation Place’, if weather is not on your side (though we are hoping it will be). It is also a great place to learn the ropes if you are new to the sport, or want to converse with local climbers and hangout before heading outside. (Photo by @gabatronix – an avid climber in the Banff area)
Stroll downtown Banff
It is easy to spend a whole day or two strolling the streets of Banff. From the candy shops, ice cream parlours, coffee shops, art exhibits, outdoor stores, adventure inquiry’s, to the local pubs, cultural cuisines and restaurants, your wallet may take a small beating. Though you wont regret the money spent. Don’t feel like eating in a restaurant? Get take out and have a picnic by the river, a close walk from downtown. Then spend the evening exploring the river trails. Downtown Banff and area is an adventure all in itself.
Relax at Banff Hot Springs
After a long day of adventuring, sight seeing or shopping (A physically draining task in itself) head on over to the Banff Hot Springs. Relax your muscles and reminisce about your day, while taking in the gorgeous mountain views around you. You will leave feeling rejuvenated and ready for your next day of adventuring.
Visit The Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is not located inside Banff National Park, though it is close by, just outside Cochrane, Alberta, and well worth a visit if you are going to be in the area. They welcome visitors to come and see their beautiful wolf dogs and to learn all about them. They are open year round, Thursday through to Monday (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and provide you with a unique opportunity, to come inside their enclosure, take photos and feed the wolf dogs some treats! The cost is $39.00 / person, ages 12+.