Banff National Park is abuzz in July, from pavement to footpath. The scenery is stunning, the temps pleasant, and the vibe alive with festive events and a killer culinary scene, making it a great time of year to visit. Here are five tips to get you started in discovering the best of Banff National Park.
Local Tip: Thanks to a number of public transit options it has never been easier to get around Banff National Park. You can now travel from Banff to Canmore, the Lake Minnewanka Loop, Johnston Canyon, Bow Valley Parkway, and Lake Louise with Roam Transit. If you are traveling to Lake Louise, there are various shuttle options to get you to the Lake Louise lakeshore, Moraine Lake, and The Lake Louise Ski Resort.
1. Take to a Mountain Trail
While the most popular trails can see a lot of foot traffic, getting off the beaten path is easy and brings your own slice of tranquility. Make a day of it and plan a mountain picnic! Adding a few extra luxuries to your daypack will create a truly unique experience – we’re thinking summit charcuterie or alpine meadow bubblies. Nester’s Market and IGA in Banff or The Village Market in Lake Louise will supply all of your picnic essentials. Just remember to pack out what you pack in.
2. Soak in World-Class Sights
The local summits are just a gondola (or chairlift) ride away. Enjoy the daily Sunset Festival at the Banff Gondola starting July 9th. Indulge in local craft beverages, taste a Canadian-inspired BBQ menu, and soak in the spectacular mountain sunsets with live music and entertainment. You can also visit The Lake Louise Ski Resort for world-class vistas and a chance to spot a grizzly bear in its natural habitat or experience Mt. Norquay’s Sightseeing Chairlift which provides a stunning bird’s eye view of the town of Banff.
3. Amp Up the Adventure
Looking for an alternative adventure or extra dose of adrenaline? Scale a mountain face with an ACMG guide on Mt. Norquay’s Via Ferrata. Or, discover a different form of mountain exploration via horseback ride, which can bring you to parts of the backcountry you never dreamed possible. Cool off with a whitewater rafting trip, with all classes of rapids accessible from right within the heart of Banff to a few short hours’ drive away. If you want to delve beneath the Rockies, try a cave tour where you will discover the negative vertical world below.
4. Engage in a Local Event
While experiences in the mountains are a great way to unwind, they pair great with the excitement to be found in Banff National Park’s two vibrant towns. Pick up and picnic from any of the world-renowned restaurants in Banff and enjoy your takeout in the open green spaces of Central Park. To enhance your afternoon, picnic games are available to borrow in Central Park from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.
Every Wednesday, you can also check out the Banff Farmers Market: a unique Farmers' Market offering guests a wide selection of quality locally made products. The market provides an excellent selection of over 80 local and regional vendors selling fruits, vegetables, artwork, jewelry, apparel, beauty products, coffee, and much more. Pick up something fresh and local on your next mid-week journey to Banff.
5. Enjoy a Taste of Place
If you haven’t gotten your fill of the mountain vistas by day’s end, continue the indulgence over dinner with a view. Sky Bistro and the Cliffhouse Bistro offer fine mountaintop dining, and an abundance of rooftop and viewpoint patios are scattered throughout the town of Banff.
As if the views weren’t enough, several local restaurants focus on locally sourced and home-crafted menus highlighting the flavours of the region. Enjoy a top-grade steak from the prairies of Southern Alberta at Chuck’s Steakhouse or a glass of fine merlot sourced from a B.C. vineyard all as you soak in your surroundings ‘til last light.