The Mountains Are Calling
From stunning glacier-fed lakes to the unmistakable peaks of the Rockies, Banff National Park in Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most iconic scenery. And while it is a breathtaking location year round, Banff really comes to life in the winter. As snow covers everything, the town of Banff is transformed into a frozen oasis and the surrounding National Park is filled with unforgettable winter adventures.
The park is comprised of 6,641 square kilometres of rugged mountain terrain and includes the town of Banff and the hamlet of Lake Louise within its boundaries. The Icefields Parkway, a 230-kilometre long scenic road through the mountains, connects Banff to Jasper National Park to the north.
Winter is a spectacular time to visit Banff and explore all that this national park has to offer. Whether you’re after a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the mountains or a more heart-pumping adventure skiing down a mountain, you’ll find numerous ways to enjoy Banff’s beauty.
Here are five incredible Banff winter activities to get you in the mood to explore. If you’re interested in crafting a custom itinerary to Banff, reach out to our team and we’d be happy to create a trip of a lifetime for you and your group.
1. Skating on Frozen Ponds
It almost looks like a scene out of a movie about Canada: a group of hockey players skating around on a frozen pond with the mountains in the background. But this is just a regular scene in Banff National Park. When the ice freezes, skaters head out to experience the joy of the outdoors whether it be under a bright winter sun or a sky full of stars.
2. Alpine Skiing at the Big 3
Many people travel to Banff for its legendary skiing, which includes some of the most beautiful runs this country has to offer. This 3-day adventure takes you to the Big 3: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay. You’ll get to explore one location per day, all with an expert guide.
3. Ice Walks
Johnston Canyon, with its steep canyon walls, tunnels, caves and waterfalls, is one of the most spectacular attractions in Banff National Park. In the winter, the waterfalls freeze and blue pillars of ice form all around the walls of the canyon, transforming it into a true winter wonderland. Take a guided walk through the canyon to see the drama of winter on full display. The walk can also be done at night, which adds even more magic to the experience.
4. Dog Sledding or Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
Two very different activities with some of Banff’s most beloved domesticated animals: dogs and horses. Wrap up in a warm blanket and take a leisurely ride through stunning mountain terrain on a sleigh pulled by beautiful horses. Or get the adrenaline pumping on a fast-paced ride on a sled pulled by a pack of dogs. Both experiences are incredible and not to be missed.
5. Gondola Ride
Banff offer visitors an easy and scenic way to see the surrounding landscape with the Banff Sightseeing Gondola. An eight-minute ride in an enclosed gondola gets you up to the top of Sulphur Mountain where spectacular views and cozy restaurants await. Warm your hands by one of the fire pits or stroll along the boardwalk, all while taking in the views from 7,486 feet above the town of Banff. Head up to Sanson’s Peak to learn about the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station.
After your outdoor adventures, head to “the castle” — the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel — for a guided food tour of the property. You’ll taste delicious food and learn about the history, art and architecture of the building. A perfect way to start or end your adventures in Banff National Park.