Ten to Know: Banff

Glorious mountain landscapes, coupled with a rustic and laid-back feel make Banff and Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies, an ideal North American destination for outdoor enthusiasts in both winter and summer months. Whether you’re looking to spend your days skiing and snowshoeing, or hiking and white water rafting, Western Canada is an easy bet for a fun-filled and active trip.

Contact Indagare to plan your own journey to the Canadian Rockies.

1.  Mountains come in all shapes and sizes.

The towns of Banff and Lake Louise offer several distinct mountains and ski resorts, each catering to different types of skiers and snowboarders. A good rule of thumb? Try them all. Sunshine Village Ski Resort, in Banff, is best for dreamy views and a variety of green, blue and black runs. Mt. Norquay, also in Banff, is where the locals go, with its smaller size and slightly more intermediate terrain. Lake Louise Ski Resort will remind you the most of skiing in Utah, Colorado or Wyoming—longer runs, multiple restaurants on-mountain and a true, main lodge for a cup of hot cocoa in the afternoon.
2. Get comfortable with longer commutes and rental cars. 

Winter travelers will want to take the hotel shuttles to and from the mountains, as parking is extremely limited. The rides range from 20 minutes to an hour. And regardless of season, you’ll want a car to get around most efficiently between the various areas off the slopes. Yes, it’s a lot of driving, but the views are worth it.

3. Summer months are just as epic.

While winter brings skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, dog sledding and skating, the summer months allow for longer days filled with activities like scenic hikes, fishing, canoeing, white water rafting and mountain biking. The scenery, to boot, takes on an entirely different tenor when the land is lush and green, and Lake Louise becomes a vibrant shade of aquamarine.

4. Dress for the conditions. 

Layers are always advised: It’s much easier to remove clothing than it is to find an extra fleece in the middle of a dog sledding excursion! Especially in the heart of winter, check the daily temperatures and suit up accordingly. At the same time, the Bow Valley is a very laid-back destination, so there’s no need to dress up for dinner time.

5. Understand seasonality.

July to September offer ideal summer weather, although temperatures can still fluctuate significantly. Mountains open for skiing between mid-November and late-May. Across the continent, this is considered to be one of the longest ski seasons, and while the weather is most snow-sure in January and February, options abound.

6. Foodies, pick your restaurants wisely.

There are myriad restaurants in Banff, although it’s not a true foodie destination. You’ll be eating lots of New Canadian, which entails a fair amount of meat and cheese. Fairmont Banff Springs offers a greater variety in cuisine, and addresses any dietary restrictions with ease. The Post Hotel, in Lake Louise, has a great restaurant as well, albeit, farther afield.

7. Don’t fret about minimums and exorbitant pricing.

Traveling to Banff offers good value, along with flexibility, if you're looking to travel for fewer nights. Our top property in Banff is the Fairmont Banff Springs. Here, unlike ski destinations in Europe or the American West, there are no nightly minimums over the holidays, and pricing is more palatable.

8. Prepare for more rustic accommodations, with friendly service.

Fairmont Banff Springs has all the amenities of a top tier ski resort: a large spa, a helpful concierge team, onsite activities and multiple dining outlets. That said, the décor is in need of a revamp and the exterior is somewhat imposing. Its "Castle in the Rockies" style is appealing to some, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea. We advise booking a higher category room, or a lower category suite with a view, to maximize the property’s benefits—especially the beautiful views overlooking the Rockies.

9. Book additional experiences in advance. 

Over the holidays and the popular summer months, we recommend booking additional experiences in advance to secure your reservation during the  peak seasons. Your Indagare Trip Designer would be happy to suggest excursions offsite, from guided hikes and rafting to ski lessons and ice walks through Johnston Canyon.

10. Pair your stay in Banff with additional stops. 

A multi-stop itinerary, particularly during the summer months, is the best way to get a true sense of the Canadian Rockies. Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are approximately three hours from one another, so we recommend pairing a Banff and Lake Louise visit with a stop in Jasper.

Contact Indagare to plan your own journey to the Canadian Rockies.

Published onFebruary 6, 2020

More Inspiration

Plan Your Trip With Us

We only feature hotels that we can vouch for first-hand. At many of them, Indagare members receive special amenities.

Get In Touch

Welcome back,
log in to Indagare

Not a member?

Forgot Password

Enter your email and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Type the first 3 letters to begin