The Final Information to Visiting Banff Nationwide Park within the Winter

Mikaela of Voyageur Tripper —a weblog devoted to outside journey — is sharing her in-depth information to Banff Nationwide Park!

I’ve visited Banff Nationwide Park within the winter on 4 separate events and have tried nearly each winter exercise within the park.

Whereas the vast majority of vacationers will go to in the summertime months, I really feel Banff has a particular type of attraction within the winter. The mountains are lined in snow and the waterfalls are frozen to a standstill.

There are some uniquely Canadian experiences available within the winter, like strolling by way of a snowy canyon or ice skating on a frozen lake.

I’ll be sharing my favourite issues to do, the place to remain, and the place to eat, together with some ideas for visiting Banff within the winter—like what to pack and find out how to drive in snowy circumstances.

Right here’s the last word information to visiting Banff Nationwide Park within the winter!

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Winter Situations

January and February are the coldest months, with a each day excessive of -Four C and a each day low of -14 C, though the winter months get only a few days of precipitation.

That mentioned, most years there tends to be a interval with an excessive chilly climate warning, the place temperatures drop under -30 C. When it’s this chilly the ski hills generally shut.

Gown warmly and guarantee you’re ready for the chilly!

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What  to Pack

There are a few additional items you’ll want to be when visiting Banff in the winter:

  • Winter Boots – I don’t find hiking boots to be warm enough, so I recommend bringing proper winter boots.
  • Wool Socks – These will keep your feet warm even if they get a little damp from snow or sweat.
  • Layers – You’ll want to dress in layers while in Banff, which includes a good base layer, an insulating layer (like fleece), and a weather-proof jacket.
  • Hat – Bring a warm hat, or ‘toque’ (pronounced ‘too-k’) as we Canadians would say.
  • Mittens – Bring a thick and warm pair of mittens, but which will be especially important for staying warm while waiting for sunrise.
  • Thermos – Not mandatory, but having a thermos filled with a warm beverage is nice to have while waiting for the sunrise.
  • Ice Cleats – If you will be doing winter hikes without a tour group, bring ice cleats or buy them in town.

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Where to Stay in Banff

Budget: Samesun Hostel is my favourite hostel in Banff. Situated proper on the principle highway, it has a enjoyable ambiance and is extraordinarily clear and cozy.

Mid-Vary: I actually just like the Royal Canadian Lodge. It’s a comfortable resort with a terrific swimming pool and spa, and it has a extremely nice restaurant for breakfast.

Luxurious: If there’s anyplace in Canada to splurge on a resort room, it’s the Fairmont Banff Springs. I completely adore this resort, principally on account of its glorious spa, which incorporates indoor and outside sizzling swimming pools, a whirlpool, and a sauna. It’s very dreamy.

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High Issues to Do in Banff In the course of the Winter

Watch the Sundown at Vermillion Lakes

Vermillion Lake is situated simply exterior Banff City Centre and is the perfect place to look at the dawn. Flip onto Vermillion Lakes Scenic Drive and Mount Rundle might be in your left. Drive down just a little additional to the place there are some openings within the timber.

Wherever alongside right here is a good place to {photograph} the solar rising.

Watch out strolling near the ice, as the sides aren’t all the time fully frozen. And convey heat mittens and a sizzling beverage – it’s a cold strategy to ring within the day.

Banff Lake Louise Ice Castle

How cool is that this ice citadel?

Go Skating at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is well probably the most stunning lakes in Canada, and retains a lot of its attraction within the winter months.

The Fairmont Lake Louise Chateau is correct on the lakeshore and gives actions like snowshoeing, a horse-drawn carriage journey, and, the preferred, skating. Exterior you’ll additionally discover ice sculptures and an “ice bar” which serves drinks.

Hike to Frozen Waterfalls in Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon has a path that goes proper by way of the gorgeous canyon and brings you to 2 giant frozen waterfalls.

Alongside the stroll you’ll be proper up in opposition to the canyon partitions, and can see quite a few smaller frozen waterfalls. There’s even a small tunnel to stroll by way of that may carry you nose to nose with one other waterfall.

Johnston Canyon Ice Walk Frozen Waterfall

You are able to do the stroll by yourself, however I like to recommend becoming a member of a tour group as a result of they may have the ability to clarify the historical past and geology of the canyon. Plus, they supply ice cleats in your boots so that you aren’t slipping round on the path.

In the event you select to not go along with a tour group, I recommend bringing your personal pair of ice cleats. And undoubtedly go within the morning – by lunchtime the path could be extremely crowded.

Banff in Winter Two Jack Lake Sunset

Two Jack Lake

Castle Mountain

Citadel Mountain

Check Out Some Iconic Photo Spots

Banff has some beautifully photogenic mountains and lakes. Grab your camera and check out some of these spots.

Two Jack Lake: This frozen lake is an excellent one to catch for sunset. The snow on the lake gets cleared away in parts to become a natural ice skating rink. You can slip around in your winter boots or bring a pair of skates with you (there isn’t a place to rent skates here).

Lake Minnewanka: Walk out onto this frozen lake surrounded by mountains. When driving to the lake, you’ll pass a small parking lot which offers views from above the lake. This offers a beautiful and under-appreciated angle of the lake.

Peyto Lake: Located north of Lake Louise and on the Icefields Parkway, Peyto Lake is one of the most iconic backdrops in Banff.

Castle Mountain: Head to Castle Junction (off of Highway 1A) for excellent views of Castle Mountain.

Sulphur Mountain Gondola View Banff

Take the Gondola Up Sulphur Mountain

Take the gondola from the town of Banff up to Sulphur Mountain. From here you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the town nestled below the mountains.

At the top, there is a Visitor Centre and restaurant (with an awesome lunch buffet I might add) and a boardwalk that takes you to the peak of Sulphur Mountain.

You can buy your tickets at the counter, however, I recommend purchasing them in advance (even just the night before) because it can be a bit cheaper and you’ll be able to skip the line and go straight to the gondola when you arrive.

Go Skiing at the Big 3

Banff National Park is home to three excellent ski hills – Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine, and Mt. Norquay – known as the Big 3.

You can visit one hill or get a pass to ski at all of them over several days. I spent a day at the Lake Louise ski hill, and even though I wasn’t a great skier I had an excellent time – so don’t think you need to be very experienced to ski in the Canadian Rockies!

Each of the ski hills has its own rentals, so you don’t have to worry about bringing ski gear.

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Icefield Parkway Mountains

Icefield Parkway Mountains

Transportation During the Winter

There are two ways to get around Banff National Park: renting a car and public/private transport. I recommend renting a car because it’ll give you the most flexibility. But if you are uncomfortably driving in winter conditions there is enough public/private transport to build a full itinerary without needing a car.

Renting a Car

Pick up your rental car in the Calgary Airport before you begin driving to Banff. There are several rental car companies and their prices are all very similar. In order to get a good vehicle with snow tires, book your rental car in advance.

Here are some tips for driving in Banff in the winter:

Snow Tires are Critical

The easiest way to get around Banff is to rent a car. The roads from Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise are regularly plowed for snow. However, the roads are not routinely maintained off the main highway and especially on the Icefields Parkway.

That’s why I strongly recommend renting a car with snow tires. 4WD is also nice to have, but it’s not as important as snow tires.

Don’t Drive Late at Night

I highly recommend you avoid driving on the highways when it’s dark. There’s considerably less visibility, which makes driving on snow or ice-covered roads more dangerous. So once sunset is over, head back to the town or to your accommodations.

Avoid Driving in White Out Conditions

Although it’s never happened in the four trips I’ve made, sometimes Banff gets blizzards and this can seriously diminish visibility. If the visibility is very poor, avoid driving, especially if you are not experienced with winter driving.

There are plenty of activities in Banff that can be accessed on foot or occur inside to fill your itinerary.

Public Transportation, Shuttles & Tours

If you’d like to avoid driving entirely, you can build an itinerary that doesn’t require a vehicle. There are some top sights that will be difficult to access (or will be quite expensive to access), but it isn’t impossible.

Transport from Calgary to Banff: There are shuttles that go from the airport to Banff Town Centre.

Transport within Banff National Park: There is a public bus in town that can take you from the town center (where most of the accommodation options are) to the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and the Banff Hot Springs.

Transportation with Tours and Activities: Many tours will pick you up from your accommodations and drop you off afterward. There’s also a shuttle that goes from Banff Town Centre to the Big 3 ski hills.

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Places to Eat in Banff

For such a small town, the Banff food scene really punches above its weight. Here are my three favorite places to eat in Banff.

Toolooloo’s: This eclectic restaurant is a best choice amongst locals and vacationers alike. With an intensive brunch menu and beneficiant parts, Toolooloo’s is a wonderful alternative after doing the Johnston Canyon Ice Stroll or one other outside exercise. I like to recommend each the waffles and the eggs benny.

Eddie Burger Bar: That is the perfect burger joint on the town (and I take a look at out loads of burger joints after I journey!). I like to recommend any burger, truffle fries, and an Eddie Caesar, which comes with a hen wing for garnish.

The Maple Leaf: In order for you one thing just a little extra upscale, The Maple Leaf is ideal. It has some glorious seafood and steak choices (Alberta is dwelling to the perfect beef in Canada), along with just a few vegetarian dishes. The ambiance is heat and comfy, and there’s a terrific wine choice.

BeaverTails: For a really Canadian dessert, cease by the BeaverTails store.

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Further Sources

Stay Warm & Dry: Comprehensive Guide to Layering – In the event you aren’t aware of the idea of laying clothes, have a fast learn by way of this submit. It is going to stroll you thru the three completely different layers and find out how to use them to manage your temperature whereas being lively exterior.

17 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Banff in the Winter – Take a look at this submit for those who want just a little extra convincing that Banff within the winter is attractive and price a visit.

10 Ideas for Visiting Canada for the First Time – If this might be your first time in Canada, listed below are some ideas to make sure you have a easy journey.

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