We recently took a trip to Calgary and I decided a concise blog post and video about the top 6 things to do in Banff would be a good idea. Keep reading to find out what they are.
We arrived at the Calgary International Airport around 3:30pm, and it was a quick hour and a half drive into the Mountains to the Town of Banff. The jagged Canadian Rockies outside of Calgary are spectacular and a bit ominous.
What to bring: The weather changes by the minute around Banff. We had 80 degrees and 40 degrees, snow, hail, rain and stunning rainbows. The atmosphere is very outdoorsy and rustic, so bring your jeans and casual boots for the evenings along with a lite jacket or wrap. During the day, most everyone wears hiking gear, convertible pants, leggings, and layer your tops for the variable weather. Being from Texas, I was cold most of the time, so I wore a long sleeve hiking shirt and my favorite smart wool vest with a hood every day. Even moderate hikes can be challenging around Banff so a good pair of hiking boots are a must. Couple extra packing tips: Bring Deet bug spray, the mosquitos are ferocious! Also, a hiking rain coat is a must as we got caught in hail, snow and rain.
THE TOP 6 THINGS TO DO/SEE IN BANFF:
- Stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs: If you are staying in Banff, why not go all the way, and stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs. This Fairmont is not to be confused with The Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise, as they are 2 separate properties. We were greeted by the staff as we drove up to the property. Before we even climbed out of the car, we heard, “Welcome to the Fairmont Banff Springs, Ms. Wilkin, your room is ready. Here are your keys and you are all checked in. May we bring your bags to your room? Is there anything else we can provide at this time?” The service at the hotel was exceptional! Throughout our stay, everyone was so helpful, kind and generous.
- Take a canoe out on Lake Moraine. The water is blue and the views are simply gorgeous. And the best view, of course, is in the center of the lake! We left Banff around 9am, and we decided to drive instead of taking public transportation to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Since it’s almost impossible to drive directly to Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, overflow parking if the way to go. It would have been best if we started earlier, as the overflow parking to Lake Louise was more than half full by the time we arrived. Here they have school bus shuttles running every 15 minutes to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. $15CAD to Moraine Lake and free to Lake Louise. We chose to start with Moraine Lake as the school bus line was much shorter, and I’m so glad we did. Moraine Lake is smaller, less people, and so spectacular even though not as iconic as Lake Louise. The staff at overflow parking said we had to return to the lot from Moraine Lake then take the other bus to Lake Louise. We found out that Fairview Limousine
- Visit Lake Louise. There are going to be crowds (you’ve been warned) but it’s for good reason! What a fantastic lake.
- Go for a hike. We opted for the Helen Lake hike. Peter Labitka from the Alpine Experience picked us up at the Fairmont around 9am, and we cruised down Highway ??? for just over an hour to the Helen Lake Trailhead. We requested a moderate hike, as none of us are active hikers. Ha, make sure you clarify ‘moderate hike’; 6km and 3500ft elevation change didn’t sound too bad in theory, but the hike was quite challenging. The hike itself was beautiful as we saw forests, meadows, glaciers and the charming Helen Lake where we had a picnic lunch. Peter, our guide, was a trooper for putting up with us, and we loved having his guidance. He was so knowledgeable about the area, the flora and the fauna. Connect with Peter as he can guide day hikes, camping trips and fishing trips.
- Eat at the Grizzly House. They have fondue and phones where you can call other tables. Apparently, it used to be a swinger’s club back in the day. The phones still work!
- Shop in Downtown Banff. The streets are pleasant and the shops have great Canadian gear and souvenirs to take home.