Banff National Park is known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, bright blue lakes, and historical landmarks. This article provides an itinerary of must-see activities for anyone travelling to the Canadian Rockies, whether it’s your first or fiftieth time!
Explore the Town of Banff
As a tourist-centered community, Banff has a rich and vibrant cultural and natural history dating back to the 1880s. The town of Banff is one of the few towns located in a National Park and has been a global (UNESCO) World Heritage Site since 1984. Banff has many attractions, including popular activities such as window shopping in the gift shops, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, and the Banff Upper Hot Springs!
Lake Louise is one of the most popular photography spots in Banff National Park. The lake is known for its vibrant turquoise/green water surrounded by gorgeous mountains views. The photos online don’t do the lake justice and is definitely a place worth seeing for yourself! The water is perfect for paddleboarding or canoeing in the summer season. The water is too cold for swimming, but with a scenic view of the mountains, it’s hardly missed. A trip to Lake Louise is not complete without stopping for lunch at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise! This historic hotel was built in 1924 and provides a luxury experience with magnificent views of the lake from the restaurant. If a luxury lunch isn’t your thing, there is the hike up to Agnes’ Tea House, serving a variety of tea and lunch options! This famous tea house has been running since 1905 and sits upon the mountainside! At an altitude of 2,135 m or 7,005 ft, the view of the surrounding mountains from the teahouse is hard to beat! If you’re up for a challenging hike, you can continue past Agnes’ Tea House and go to the top of the Big Beehive Trail. This impressive hike has fantastic views of Lake Louise with scenic stops along the way. The trail is 10.4 Km round trip and is rated as a moderate to difficult hike.
Drive the Icefields Parkway
Named as one of the most scenic highways in Canada, the Icefields Parkway is a must-see when travelling in the Canadian Rockies. The Icefield Parkway is a 232 km stretch of double-lane highway leading to Jasper National Park and has stops on the side of the road to enjoy the views. It captures the beautiful scenery of the Continental Divide through rocky mountain peaks, icefields, and sweeping valleys. The unforgettable views make for a one-of-a-kind drive that you won’t want to miss!
A trip to the Rocky Mountains is not complete without going on one of the many gorgeous hiking trails! Whether you are staying near Banff, or venturing out to Lake Louise, there are incredible hiking trails for everyone! There are numerous hiking trails in Banff National Park, so here are a few of the popular hikes that are worth doing on your trip.
- Lake Louise: There are many hiking trails around Lake Louise for all hiking levels and abilities. A few trails include Agnes’ Tea House, the Big Beehive, Devil’s thumb, and the Lake Louise Lakefront Trail.
- Plain of Six Glaciers: The Plain of Six Glaciers trail is a scenic hike that starts along the shoreline of Lake Louise and continues upwards into a stunning natural mountain amphitheatre.
- The Bow River Walk: The Bow River runs through the town of Banff and is perfect for families with small children. It has a paved path wide enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs with benches along the trail. The path takes approximately twenty minutes to complete, with the starting point near the boat docks in Banff city centre.
Skiing in the Winter
The Canadian Rockies provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for skiing enthusiasts! There are runs for every level of skier or snowboarder with the most spectacular views. Here are three of the most popular skiing resorts to try when staying in Banff National Park!
- Mt. Norquay: This resort offers 60 runs spread over 190 acres! It is located just 6 km from the town of Banff and has fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.
- Lake Loise Ski Resort: Known as one of the largest skiing resorts in North America, with over 4200 acres of diverse terrain over four mountains! There are ski runs for beginners, intermediate, and experts so everyone can enjoy their trip!