Banff National Park is home to some of the most beautiful places in the Rocky Mountains and all of Canada. From skiing and snowshoeing to soaking in a spa or experiencing a dog sledding tour, there are unlimited options for you in this scenic, adventure filled National Park. Keep reading for some of our favorite activities you have to try this Winter in Banff!
Skating is one of my favorite winter activities in Banff and fun for the whole family. There are numerous places to go skating within the area and they all boast phenomenal views! These include The Fairmont Banff Springs, Two Jack Lake, Lake Louise, and countless other frozen lakes scattered throughout Banff National Park! Why not bring some camping chairs, a thermos of hot cocoa(and Baileys if that floats your boat?), and spend the day?
Try Your Hand at Dog Sledding
Dog sledding is without a doubt one of the most thrilling winter adventures on this list. Snowy Owl Tours is an excellent local dog sledding company that offers a beautiful and exciting tour. You’ll get up close and personal with the dogs, learn how to drive your own sled through a stunning valley in the Rockies, and enjoy a hot chocolate around the fire to finish off the day.
Snowy Owl Tours is actually based out of Canmore, but they will pick you up at any hotel in Banff. Make sure to book this one in advance- they fill up quickly!
Enjoy a Day of Snow Tubing
Have you ever heard of The Norquay Tube Park? If not you`ve been missing out! Located about 5 minutes from the Town of Banff, you`re sure to have an incredible day filled with great views, fresh air and a ton of fun! Jump on an inflatable snow tube and hold on tight as you slide, spin, and pick up speed down the hill.
Explore on Your Snowshoes
If you enjoy hiking in the summer then chances are you’ll enjoy snowshoeing just as much(minus the cold, of course?)! Banff National Park is home to some amazing snowshoeing trails for all abilities. The Canmore Nordic Centre is about 30 minutes from Banff and an excellent place to go if you’re a beginner. They have several maintained trails which makes getting the hang of it much easier.
Once you feel comfortable, I would highly recommend downloading the Alltrails App. There are dozens of snowshoeing trails to choose from that are all within an hour drive from Banff!
Go Downhill Skiing
Aside from being located in one of the most picturesque location in the Canadian Rockies, Banff is also perfectly situated for a ski vacation! With 4 major ski hills only 15-55 minutes away, there is no shortage of excitement and fresh powder!
Soak Up The Hot Springs
The Banff Upper Hot Springs are a popular attraction of this mountain resort town. The outdoor pool is universally accessible with lockers, towel rental, and a café in the facility.
If commercialized hot springs aren`t really your jam; some of the hotels in the area have some incredible, more private places to go for a soak. A few of my favorites include Hidden Ridge Resort for the peaceful outdoor location. The Fox Suites where you can soak in a giant cave. And lastly, The Fairmont Banff Springs for the entire spa experience.
Visit Lake Louise
Lake Louise is an iconic spot in Banff National Park. People travel from far and wide to witness the turquoise blue waters nestled within the impressive surrounding mountain range. In the area, there are several hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing trails. The cold weather brings a great opportunity to lace up your skates in front of a Canadian landmark: The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Relax at The Kananaskis Nordic Spa
Kananaskis Nordic Spa has become a go-to “alpine sanctuary” of the Canadian Rockies and there is no question why! This stunning spa combines luxury with natural beauty and allows you to rejuvenate in a scenic environment. The idea of this invigorating therapy cycle is to move through the hot, warm, and cold pools numerous times in a specific order.
Along with these pools, you can also enjoy a massage, different saunas and steam rooms, as well as fantastic food and drinks from the Two Trees Bistro. Only 1 hour from Banff, this luxurious outdoor experience is the perfect way to relax and unwind in the mountains! Click here to learn more about what they are doing to keep you safe during COVID-19.
See Banff from Above with a Helicopter Ride
Gaze down at jagged peaks and icy turquoise lakes during this once in a lifetime experience in Banff National Park. There are several options ranging from 30 to 60 minute flights as well as a hike and helicopter tour to Marvel Pass in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
You can also choose to soar over the Columbia Icefields between Banff and Jasper. On this 55 minute helicopter ride you will see glaciers, icefalls, waterfalls, alpine lakes and massive mountains from the most unique viewpoint!
Walk With Wolves
The Northern Lights Wolf Centre is actually located near Golden, BC but it`s well worth the 1 hour and 45 minute drive for an unforgettable day. They offer an interactive wolf walk where visitors can embark on a leisurely hike with some furry members of the Northern Lights Wolf Pack. How cool is that?! On the hike, the wolves are free to run and lead you through their natural habitat. Although they are never forced or expected to interact with the humans along the way; most of the time they do! This books up quickly so be sure to reserve in advance.
Stay at Emerald Lake Lodge
Emerald Lake Lodge is a beautiful place to stay, eat, or just visit for an afternoon walk. The loop around the lake offers marvelous views of the surrounding mountains and forest. If you plan to stay the night, they have a lodge as well as a variety of cabins with lake front views and wood burning fireplaces. Factor in the stunning outdoor hot tub and this place is 100% worth the splurge!
Experience Fat Biking
If you’ve been wanted to give fat biking a try, this is the year and the place to do it! You can rent a bike in town from a number of gear shops for around $100 CAD per day. There are dozens of trails around Banff to choose from and typically the rental company will have a trail map and some advice to get you started. If you’re up for it, you can even bike the Centennial Trail(a paved pathway along Highway Number 1) all the way to Canmore!
Banff offers some amazing places to get out for an evening walk and gaze up at the stars. The further away from the town you get, the better! If you’re really lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of an Aurora Borealis. Two Jack Lake and Vermillion Lakes are both great options and only a short drive from Banff. Either one would be a perfect place to go for a star walk.
Learn How to Cross Country Ski
Whether your a complete amateur or a seasoned pro, cross country skiing is an excellent winter sport that gets you active and outdoors! Like snowshoeing, the Canmore Nordic Centre is the perfect place to learn how to cross country ski. The staff on-site will help get you setup with gear and recommend the best trails to get you started. With over 65 kilometers of groomed, machine-made, and natural trails; the Nordic Centre is well worth the visit!
If you`re looking for something more challenging, cross country ski up to Moraine Lake, Lake O`Hara, Taylor Lake, or any number of other beautiful trails inside the National Park.
Take a Ride on The Banff Gondola
With views of six unbelievable mountain ranges and the Bow Valley, the Sulphur Mountain summit is something you have to do at least once this winter in Banff! Once you arrive at the top, you can stroll the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk, wander through the interpretive center or grab some food and enjoy the view! For up to date prices and more information, click here.
Check Out The Fairmont Banff Springs
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a landmark of the town and a cool place to gallivant for a few hours no matter what you`re interested in. They`ve got a series of shops, a skating rink, a beautiful spa, a wonderful brunch buffet, and a ton of old architecture for you to soak up and enjoy!