Banff is an easy weekend trip for people who live in Calgary. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime dream trip for others. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth, though, no matter where you live.
Banff is a great place to relax and try new things. It is just over an hour from Calgary. Summer is the busiest time of year for parks because of warm weather and summer vacations, but winter is just as fun and has a lot less people.
In fact, winter might be our favorite time to visit the Rocky Mountains because it feels like a winter wonderland there.
Banff National Park is full of snow-covered pine trees and tall mountains, so there’s never a dull moment.
HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO ENJOY WINTER IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Skiing Down the Slopes
Around Banff National Park, there are many world-class ski resorts, and one of our favorites is Sunshine Village. Sunshine Village is a great place for skiers and snowboarders of all levels because it has more than 100 runs and some of the best powder in Canada.
Because the ski runs start at an altitude of about 7,000 feet, the resort can open earlier in the season and stay open later. This means there are more days to ski than anywhere else in the area.
It also has a high-end hotel next to the slopes and a heated chairlift. Oh, and did I mention that some of the ski runs cross the continental divide, so you can ski in two provinces on the same run? Really cool!
If you’d rather go tubing or this is your first time skiing, we can also recommend Mount Norquay, which is the closest ski resort to the town of Banff and has a hill just for beginners.
Hiking Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is the place to go to see some beautiful sights, such as frozen waterfalls, caves, a frozen creek, and a narrow canyon. This free activity is very popular, and one of the best walks in the park is through this area.
It’s a pretty easy walk, but you might need ice cleats in the winter to keep from slipping. The weather will decide everything. Most people wear cleats on this hike, but we didn’t when we did it twice in the winter.
There are also a number of tours that will take you there if you don’t have a car or want to learn more. You can also go ice climbing there if you want to have even more fun!
Exploring the Mountain Towns
It’s a lot of fun to just walk around the towns of Canmore and Banff. Both are beautiful and have a wide range of places to eat, drink, and shop.
Banff also has nightclubs, and it is much more popular with tourists than Canmore. You’ll also find places to skate, and if you’re lucky, there might be a festival where people make sculptures out of ice. Plus, the views are amazing from both towns.
Go Skating Outdoors
You could also go ice skating on an outdoor rink. This is another easy thing to do. It’s a very Canadian thing to do, and the fact that there are mountains all around you makes it even better. The rink in Banff is in the middle of town, close to where most of the hotels are.
It’s free, but you’ll need skates. You can rent skates from a number of shops. If you’d rather skate on a lake, Lake Louise is often called one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Another fun and easy-to-do activity is to go snowshoeing! It’s just like walking, except the specialized “shoes” allow you to walk on top of the snow. You can rent snowshoes from any rental shop, or you can buy them for around $100 and up.
There are many trails around Banff National Park and all of them are free. You can also get in a helicopter and go heli-snowshoeing, which is a lot of fun.
This is a great combo. From the helicopter, you can see views that will blow your mind, and then you can go snowshoeing in the backcountry.
WHERE TO EAT
You’re going to need some good food after all this. As one of the most visited places in Canada, there are plenty of places to eat. Banff and Canmore have everything you could want, from fine dining to mountain pub food. We can also recommend the Iron Goat Pub & Grill if you’re in Canmore.
It serves high-end pub food like lamb shank, duck wings, and BBQ ribs, as well as a wide range of craft beer, wine, and cocktails.
The views of the mountains are also great. This restaurant is also shown in the video we made about the best things to do in the Canadian Rockies. You can look at it here:
The Elk and Oarsman Grill is one of my favorite places in Banff. They have great BBQ ribs, pizza, and Elk and Bison burgers. Also great are the yam fries, and most meals come with two sides.
SO MUCH TO DO IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
You can see that there are plenty of things to do in Banff in the winter. There are a lot more things to do, but this list is a good place to start.