I vividly remember my first visit to Banff. The mountains amazed me, and their silent beauty awed me beyond anything I had ever imagined. It was when we got to Lake Louise, and I stood there, looking out at the frozen lake under a thick blanket of snow, that I felt truly at peace. I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl. Sure, I love the beauty of nature, but I prefer my outdoors to be on patios. However, when we got to Banff, a part of me felt surprisingly comfortable among the mountains. Imagine that!
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The best way to get to Banff National Park is to fly into Calgary and rent a car. It’s about a two-hour drive and very easy to get to.
Visiting Banff National Park
Banff is a place you need to check out when you visit Canada. It is a small resort town located in the very picturesque Banff National Park. There is a fee for entering the park, based on how long you are staying there, and you can always buy your pass online before you go.
This is a perfect place for any outdoor activity year-round, and nature lovers can experience it in all its glory. Here you can go hiking, biking, horseback riding or kayaking during the summer months. If winter is more your forte, there are many opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and almost any other outdoorsy activity you can imagine. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is home to some of the most stunning lakes I have ever seen.
I was lucky enough to visit in both the winter and the fall, and I still can’t decide which was my favourite. Each has its spectacular charm and look, and I think I might need to go back in a different season to explore the area further.
Did you know that the Canadian Rockies are one of Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
Banff Upper Hot Springs
We decided to visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs during our winter visit. There is simply something wickedly unique about hanging out in an outdoor pool of hot mineral water surrounded by snowy mountains. Part of you is engulfed in the heat that surrounds you, thinking you’re somewhere else. But another part of you can see the snow-covered mountains through the rising steam. The outer edges of the pool area are covered in thick ice, forming the most incredible shapes. It is like being in a dream that doesn’t make sense but feels right.
Travellers have come here for the baths for over a century, and I am sure that many of them have felt the same way I did. It would probably take me quite a few visits before this would become normal. As we spent some time snowboarding, the dip in the hot springs was just what we needed. After a long soak, we both felt so much better, and these waters are genuinely therapeutic.
Lake Louise is one of those places that seem like out of a fairy tale. A thick blanket of snow covered it like a warm and fluffy throw. As we stood there and stared at the lake – a frozen, empty, quiet canvas – we felt moved by its beauty. I remember the giant snowflakes falling gently and steadily all around us. It felt like being in a snow globe.
The magnificent Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise looks like something out of a fairy tale. It appears out of nowhere, yet it strangely blends in with its surroundings. The hotel is at the lake’s base and has the best views of the mountain peaks. We had lunch there, but honestly, I only remember the view, and it was that spectacular.
When not frozen and covered in ice, Lake Louise is equally stunning. The water is clear, still and almost hypnotizing. The edges are rocky, but the lake is smooth and deep. Despite its beauty, the water is cold, no matter how pretty it looks.
Bucket list alert
Visiting Banff and Lake Louise was truly spectacular. What was even more special about that visit was that I could check a couple of things off my bucket list. Being able to accomplish that feels pretty amazing. Don’t you think?
Snowboarding in the Rockies
While I can find places to go snowboarding not too far from home, they don’t compare to the rush that comes with gliding down a real mountain. I have wanted to do that since I started to learn how to snowboard, and it was exhilarating to fulfill that dream finally. Luckily, there were two different places for us to try.
There are three world-class ski resorts to choose from. Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay are all spectacular. Getting a SkiBig3 ticket will give you access to try them all out. We managed to try both Sunshine and Lake Louise.
Snowboarding in the Rockies was exactly as you see on TV or in some creative brochure. The jagged mountain edges rise above the snow as the clouds and sun form an unforgettable backdrop. I felt the unmistakable feel of fresh powder under my snowboard as I glided down the runs, grinning all the way because I was flying in the clouds. It was spectacular.
Banff and Lake Louise area offers many opportunities for adventure lovers!
If you have ever seen images of a stunning turquoise lake surrounded by mountainous peaks, chances are they were of Moraine Lake. While not as large as Lake Louise, this one is equally, if not more stunning. The water flowing from the glaciers gives the water its unique hue.
The lake is in the picturesque Valley Of The Ten Peaks, and it’s not too far from Lake Louise. There are many trails along with the rock piles surrounding the lake, and they are pretty spectacular and worth making an effort.
You can reach the lake between May and October, but you’re better off waiting till later in the summer to see the iconic turquoise water. The glacier water would have melted and topped up the lake by then.
Bringing it together
Canada has so many spectacular landscapes. The Banff National Park is just a tiny sample of what you can find here. I love showing people all the different sides of this country. There are all unique and so drastically different from each other.
As a year-round destination, the Banff National Park and surrounding Canadian Rockies offer many options for outdoor enthusiasts. There is no bad season to visit. If you are a fan of snow activities, the mountains provide skiing and snowboarding options to choose from. Hiking enthusiasts will marvel at the trails and the surrounding scenery.
What you have to do now is start planning your next trip to Canada. The Rockies are waiting for you, and so are the many excellent lakes and rivers weaving through the wilderness. So, what are you waiting for?