The holiday season is wrapping up, but a winter wonderland still awaits you in Banff National Park in January. With sparkling snow and festivals to entertain, you won’t want to miss these winter adventures in the heart of Canada’s Rocky Mountains.
Enjoy the magic of winter like a kid
Playing in the snow is a favourite shared memory for people who have grown up in Canada, so why not relive that excitement or, for newcomers, experience it for the first time? Watch snow transform into art at SnowDays, when talented carvers turn blocks of snow into magnificent sculptures throughout Banff. From January 16-18 see the carving in action on Bear Street, magic not just for kids, but for people of all ages. For the adults in the crowd, TRIBUTE’s Craft Spirit Celebration offers signature cocktails on Bear Street, as well as throughout the town. From January 15-17, visit Lake Louise to see ice carvers from around the world compete to make the most impressive ice sculptures.
Check out a 3D model of the 2019 Bear Street SnowDays sculptures below:
Ski a new resort every day
Banff National Park is a true winter wonderland in January, and the snow-blanketed mountains offer endless adventure for skiers. Take a gondola past the treeline up to Banff Sunshine ski resort, be sure to check out the Great Divide chair for routes that take you into neighbouring British Columbia. Deep powder lures people to Lake Louise Ski Resort from around the world, but novice skiers shouldn’t be shy: the resort offers plenty of beautiful runs at all skill levels, and snowshoe tours are the perfect alternative to hitting the slopes. Right outside the Banff townsite is Mt. Norquay, well-loved for its steep terrain and the historic Cliffhouse Bistro, which Marilyn Monroe visited in 1953. For an adrenaline rush without skis, try Norquay’s tube park.
Have an outdoor adventure
The same vibrant blue lakes that draw people in the summer months freeze over in winter, becoming the perfect, natural skating rinks. Sparkling snow transforms family-friendly summer hikes into new experiences, January is a great time to put on some cleats or snowshoes and hit the trails. A guided tour of Johnston Canyon (with Discover Banff Tours or White Mountain Adventure) is a must-see this time of year, and if you’re up for more excitement, try a guided ice climb on the frozen waterfalls. Rent a pair of cross country skis and explore one of the many track-set trails throughout the park, from beginner terrain at Tunnel Mountain Campground, to more advanced trails like the Cascade Valley. For a unique adventure, let canines be your guides hop on a dogsled and enjoy the ride!
Apres-ski in style
You don’t have to enjoy the ski slopes to benefit from the apres-ski scene in Banff, enjoying food and drinks by a cozy fire or with a spectacular view. The Canadiana-themed Park Distillery has a wide array of cocktails made from their own spirits, made with glacier-fed water. The aptly named Bison Restaurant offers seasonally inspired menus in the heart of the Banff townsite. Or curl up by one of the many cozy fireplaces at restaurants and resorts throughout the national park.
Relax and rejuvenate
After a crisp day outside, there’s nothing cozier than a dip in the Banff Upper Hot Springs, the historic pools that have drawn visitors for more than a century. Here, relax in the thermal waters with mountain views by day or under the stars after dusk. Looking to compliment your outdoor pool experience with spa treatments? Try the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel or the Meadow Spa & Pools at the Moose Hotel, among others. Check out our guide to spas and hot springs for more ideas.