The best of Banff
We suggest planning enough time in the area to visit Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon including PaintPots, Marble Canyon, the Hoodoos, Lake Minnewanka and to take the Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain. And if you think taking the Gondola is too easy you could try snowshoeing up the west side of Sulphur Mountain along Cosmic Ray Road, and coming back down underneath the Gondola line itself. You can also visit the Cave and Basin or visit Banff’s landmarks and view wildlife in their natural winter habitat on a trademark sightseeing tour. Take time to discover Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway and of course Kananaskis Country with the most amazing views of this area. At the end of your day, don’t forget to visit the Mineral Hot Springs for a nice, hot soak in the outside 37 degree hot mineral pool.We have hiking and street maps at the lodge and we can give you many recommendations about the different activities available to fully enjoy the National Park. The various Icewalks (Johnston Canyon and Grotto Canyon) are a great way to travel through wildlife habitat, ancient rock art, unusual rock formations, and icefalls. Or how about a leisurely sleigh ride or dog sledding tour through the Bow Valley and Spray Lakes? What about a once-in-a-lifetime ice fishing adventure? Just imagine walking to your heated hut across a solid base of ice covered crystal snow to start off a fishing frenzy to last a lifetime. And for those who prefer to defy the conventional tours, you may always experience the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies in style with a range of Heli-Tours to have you soaring to new heights above the mountain tops of the Goat and Sundance ranges or even to Mt. Assiniboine Glacier known as “The Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies.” Or, if you time it right you may be able to experience a “truly” Canadian adventure by joining a bus bound for a fast paced, action-packed NHL Hockey Game to cheer on the Calgary Flames at the famed Calgary Saddledome.
For those who prefer their adventure a little more hands-on, why not descend into Rat’s Nest Cave on Grotto Mountain with a highly trained, internationally experienced guide who will lead you through twisting passageways on a natural history tour to large chambers, mineral formations, animal bones and fossils. Experience the thrill of snowmobiling through the mountains and forests of the Kicking Horse. Snowshoe to Paradise Valley, Healy Pass or to the Paint Pots to see firsthand some of the clothes, tools and techniques used by Banff’s indigenous people. Join us for some crazy snowshoeing on Cascade Mountain or around Sulphur Mountain or some Ice Climbing on Cascade Mountain, Bourgeau, the Professor Falls, Tokumm Pole, Grotto Falls, Johnston Canyon or the Weeping Wall or simply test your skills at staying alive in the wilderness with an afternoon Winter Survival mini-course at the tranquil Vista Lake.
Yet let’s not forget the three ski areas, tons of snow (average 8 meters) and a November through May ski season. Norquay, Banff’s original ski area, is where locals go when they should be working and is located just north of downtown Banff (33 runs). Sunshine Village, just 15 minutes west of Banff, is straddling the Continental Divide (107 runs). Lake Louise, located 45 minutes west of Banff town site, is Canada’s largest single ski area and has been awarded “best scenery, steeps, terrain park and new off-piste tour” (139 runs). All three areas are easily accessible with shuttle service to and from downtown Banff (1.5 minute walk). For those who prefer to take it to the next level, don’t forget that we can help arrange a once-in-a-lifetime Heli-ski/boarding tour which allows the intermediate and advanced skier/boarder to access wide open alpine slopes, scenic glaciers and gladed forests dusted with annual snowfalls or a ski mountaineering tour on the Wapta Icefields or other exciting ski mountaineering tours.There are more than 60 km of cross country trails around Banff and Canmore, these are some ideas for cross country skiing in this area: The road to Moraine Lake, to Lake O’Hara, The Redearth Trail to Shadow Lake, the road going into Yoho Valley, the Cascade Valley trail in Lake Minnewanka area, the loop around Rundle to Canmore and back. If you want to experience winter on backcountry skies: the Sundance Pass Trail in combination with the Spray River Trail or simply the Spray River Loop, the Elk Summit Lake Trail, the trail from Jonston Canyon back to Banff – Norquay, Paradise Valley or to Skoki Lodge and back.
If you need equipment, we can always get you set-up with a 15% discount on equipment rentals. And for those who leave their snowsuits behind to make room for more souvenirs, don’t worry, we can get you a discount on those as well!
While we know that many of you are coming to Banff to experience a truly “Canadian” winter, we recognize that some of you may be here for more than just the thrill of playing outside in the snow. For those guests, as well as for those days when the weather may not be “cooperating,” one can find an array of activities off the slopes to keep you busy for days on end. Shop at the Cascade Plaza or the historic shops lining the halls of The Fairmont Banff Springs. While you are there you could always try your hand at Canadian 5-pin bowling or perhaps you’d prefer to try a neon blacklight game. Maybe you’d like to take in a movie downtown at the Lux Cinema or visit one of Banff’s many museums and art galleries such as the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, or the Banff Park Museum. Or for the more active, how about a visit to the Banff Centre where you can try out the indoor climbing wall, take an aerobics class, hit the gym, swim laps or go for a soak in the hot tub. If yoga and a massage is more to your liking you can easily find a spot to balance the spirit and indulge in a little rest and relaxation.
In the evenings, you can enjoy the many restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues. At Wild Bill’s Saloon you can even try your hand at calf roping, line dancing or simply enjoy live country music. One of our favorite restaurants is the “Saltlik”, for the best steak in Banff. We and many of our guests agree it is one of the best steakhouses we have ever tried. There are many restaurants offering all kinds of worldly cuisine: we recommend “Giorgio’s” for Italian, the “Balkan” for Greek, or “Coyotes” for healthy southern cuisine. There are many Chinese and Japanese restaurants as well, and even a Sushi Train. And for truly Canadian fare, we recommend the “Maple Leaf” with its beautiful lodge style surrounding and exquisite dining experience or “The Elk and Oarsman” for a lively yet cozy atmosphere.