So much beauty in the Canadian Rockies.
I want to revisit a destination that holds a special place in my heart – Banff, Canada. Banff is a beautiful destination set amongst the Canadian Rockies. The first time I ever heard of it was after seeing a brochure for the Fairmont Banff Springs when I was a little girl. That brochure stuck with me and adorned my walls for years. I always wanted to go. I mean who wouldn’t want to visit a castle like hotel in the Rockies?!
Fast forward many years later, and Chris and I visited Banff. Banff and its surrounding areas offers SO much natural beauty and there is much to see and do there. If you’re traveling to the area, I highly recommend experiencing the following things:
Johnston Canyon – This was a fun hike. We did the hike to the Upper Falls. It’s about 45 minutes each way, and I thought a fairly easy walk. Nice to see the waterfalls. More info on the hike and how to access it is available on the Town of Banff’s website.
Lake Louise – Everyone makes their pilgrimage to Lake Louise. Yes, it is beautiful, and the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise is right there, but it’s also very touristy and depending on when you go busy. Still worth a visit, but be aware.
Moraine Lake – I fell in love with Moraine Lake. I had not heard of it before visiting the area, and standing near the shore looking at the trees, mountains, canoes, etc. took my breath away. We spent about an hour just taking in the beauty of this lake.
Peyto Lake – A short walk from the car park, Peyto Lake is a stunning turquoise. And, I do mean turquoise. This was another one that took my breath away. Definitely worth a look.
Icefields Parkway – Drive this road for incredible views and maybe some wildlife spotting. (Though we didn’t see any strangely enough.) You can take this from Banff all the way to Jasper and back. It is a very long day though. We visited Columbia Glacier, Jasper, Bow Lake, and Athabasca Falls. Our first stop to Bow Lake was not great because it was covered in fog. We can look back now and laugh about that, but it was a little frustrating when we were there. Luckily, we stopped at Bow Lake on our way back to Banff and were able to see it in all its beauty. Here’s a great link for all of the various sites you can see along your drive on the Icefields Parkway.
We did the Columbia Glacier walk. It’s pricey. Would I do it again? Probably not, but if you want to have the opportunity to walk on a real glacier and have extra cash to spend, this might be your best opportunity. Apparently now there is something called the Glacier Skywalk. This looks kind of interesting if you aren’t afraid of heights.
Back in Banff
Banff is a cute, touristy town, but there are some nice things to do there. First and foremost, head over to the Banff Springs Fairmont and walk around the grounds. It’s beautiful, and there are some great views of the Bow River.
Looking for a relaxing soak? Visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs. It was nice to relax in the warm waters and look at the great scenery.
Pop into the shops in the town of Banff. You never know what interesting things you might find.
Grab a pint at one of Banff’s many bars and restaurants. We visited the Elk and Oarsman and the Keg, but there are so many others. Dining wise, there are a ton of options. We did go to the Balkan for their Greek night and that was enjoyable, but again, lots of solid options for steak, seafood and more.
Cascade Gardens is also beautiful to walk around and admire the landscaping.
And, of course, Banff offers other activities like bowling, movies, and ice-skating, but I think you’ll just like taking in all of the scenery.
How do you get to Banff?
The best way is the fly into Calgary and rent a car. It’s about an hour and a half drive. The drive is easy, and I remember being astonished at the first lake we came across. (And let me tell you it didn’t compare at all to Peyto, Bow, Moraine, etc.)
Where to stay?
Banff has a variety of hotels and accommodation options from a hostel to vacation rentals. Canmore is located about 20 minutes away and also offers many accommodation options, including condo rentals, hotels and more. In fact, Canmore is usually less expensive than Banff. Canmore also offers a little town with restaurants, bars and shops.
How to get around?
It’s best to rent a car, but they do have Roam Banff and some buses available.
How long should I stay?
Banff has so much to see and do, especially outdoors. I think at least 4-5 nights is ideal, especially if you are planning to try and get up to Jasper and Athabasca Falls.
Where can I get more info?
For additional information on Banff, please visit https://www.banfflakelouise.com/ And, definitely check out their recommendations on what to pack. Weather can sometimes be unpredictable, so it’s best to have a jacket and layers. And, of course, good hiking shoes to see the natural sites are a must. One other tip is that it is dry there, so bring some hand lotion so your hands don’t crack.
What do you think? Have you been to Banff? What were your favorite attractions?