Words by Jody Robbins | Posted June 30, 2017
There’s so much going on in Banff, you’d be forgiven if you never left the charming townsite. But leave it you must if you want to get a full Rocky Mountain experience. Follow along as we take you from one jaw dropping moment to the next.
Where the Wild Things Are
The wide open runs at Lake Louise Ski Resort are well loved by all sorts of wildlife. Take the gondola up to the summit for magnificent views of the Bow Valley, while keeping your eyes peeled for grizzlies, black bears and even elusive lynx. Once you’re at the top, stroll through the Wildlife Interpretation Centre or take a guided walk to learn more about the local wildlife.
You saw turquoise-hued Lake Louise from the gondola, now it’s time to get up close and personal. Dip your oar into the calm, pristine waters of this iconic lake with a paddle towards Victoria Glacier. Canoes can be rented from the Boathouse at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. To experience a unique Canadian tradition, make like a Voyageur and journey across the lake with a historian.
You need to get your legs in shape for all the hiking that’s to come and a trek to Lake Agnes is the perfect warm up. A trail begins from the paved pathways surrounding Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and leads you to Canada’s oldest tea house. It’s a short jaunt – only 3.4 km, but it’s straight up and you’ll gain 1205 feet in elevation. Budget an hour, but see if you can’t make it up in under 45-minutes. Tuck into hearty sandwiches and tea biscuits, but save room for their apple crisp.
If cycling is more your speed, there are plenty of options for both mountain bikers and road cyclists. One of the prettiest routes for road bikers is the Legacy Trail running from Banff Townsite to Canmore. The paved trail weaves in and out through the woods with remarkable views of the Rundle Mountain Range. Mountain bike trails are abundant around Banff. Click here for suggestions. Bikes can be rented from Soul Ski and Bike and Bactrax.
Rest up after your adventures with a cuppa and a slice of decadent cake. Tea time takes place every afternoon in the lobby of the Post Hotel. For a more opulent affair, head back to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for traditional afternoon tea complete with scones and finger sandwiches. As both properties operate a spa, why not cap off your visit with a muscle melting massage or alpine inspired treatment?
With all the options for outdoor adventure it’s easy to forget Banff is home to one of North America’s leading arts and cultural organizations. At The Banff Centre, you’ll find exhibitions, films and performances running almost every day of the week. Try to hit the Banff Mountain Film Festival or Music for a Summer Evening, featuring the best young classical musicians from around the world.
Dip and Dial
The Grizzly House has been a Banff institution since 1967. An evening here is so much more than fondue. With decor that hasn’t changed in decades and phones at every table (to randomly call other diners, of course!), the atmosphere is more than jovial. Canadians are a friendly bunch and you’ll experience this first hand within minutes of settling in.
Jody Robbins is a freelance travel writer. Follow her adventures at TravelswithBaggage or on Twitter @Jody_Robbins.