Visiting Banff and Lake Louise means year-round accessible adventure for all abilities and interests. Adventures like canoeing on crystal blue lakes, skating on frozen lakes, snowshoeing through snow-covered forests, cross-country or downhill skiing at one of the ‘big three’ resorts, alpine dining on a rooftop patio with 360-degree views of mountain peaks, and horse-drawn sleigh rides through the gorgeous downtown Banff are just a few authentically Canadian activities available.
HIKE TO AN ALPINE MEADOW OR AMONG THE ROCKY PEAKS
Banff and Lake Louise offer some of the best hiking in the world. Enjoy quiet and solitude, while marvelling at the lofty crags of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. There are world-class hikes available for all abilities, year-round.
Summer features an abundance of hiking trails, from a 1,000-metre elevation gain scramble, to a gradual hike to reveal incredible views of crystal-clear mountain lakes. In fall, admire hues of yellows and oranges, contrasting with evergreen and snow-tipped mountain tops. From approximately mid-September for a two-to-three week period, you can see the larches change colour. Read about eight larch hikes that are local favourites.
LIFT-ASSISTED HIKING & SIGHTSEEING
Both Banff Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Summer Gondola are great options to take a gondola or lift up to the alpine and hike around between June-October, weather dependent. Mt. Norquay also offers lift-assisted sightseeing, Banff’s only via ferrata experience and the award-winning Cliffhouse Bistro, a must-go for a meal overlooking the valley and peaks surrounding Banff. In winter, take the gondolas at Banff Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Ski Resort to enjoy an alpine snowshoe hike.
In winter 2020/21, White Mountain Adventures launched a new snowshoe program at Banff Sunshine that’s geared towards families and new Canadians. It is an easy and fun introduction to snowshoeing in the backcountry.
HORSEBACK RIDE TO PLAIN OF SIX GLACIERS TEAHOUSE
Discover the true Canadian Rockies on a trail ride with the legendary Brewster Adventures, a family-owned business made up by a real-life cowboy clan that has been part of Banff’s history for six generations. Witness the majesty of six hanging glaciers whose flow created Lake Louise millions of years ago and enjoy a snack at the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.
CONQUER MT. NORQUAY’S VIA FERRATA
Both accessible and requiring no previous experience, guests summit Mt. Norquay using a climbing harness, their hands, and feet – a truly transformational experience in a protected place. After your adventure, pop into the historic Cliffhouse Bistro, a restored retro teahouse. This is designated a Canadian Signature Experience by Destination Canada.
ADVENTURE ALONG THE BOW VALLEY PARKWAY
This leisurely drive between Banff and Lake Louise features iconic attractions such as Johnston Canyon, Castle Mountain and Morant’s Curve. Rich in natural and human history, this serene route offers exploration of diverse wonders in a relaxed manner with numerous picnic areas, interpretive displays and scenic roadside stops. Mountain adventures await with numerous hiking trails, scalable peaks, paddling and angling opportunities.
ROAD BIKE IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Banff National Park boasts some of the most scenic roads in the world, making it a road biker’s dream, no matter how far they like to ride. Wind your way past Castle Mountain on the Bow Valley Parkway; along stunning mountain lakes; through a narrow valley, where peaks and glaciers rise on either side; or down the Legacy Trail, which takes you 22 kms from the town of Banff to the east park gates. These are just some of the options you can explore in Banff National Park. View suggested road cycling routes here.
ROCK CLIMBING FOR ALL LEVELS
Home to some of the highest and most accessible mountains in Canada, the Canadian Rockies boast amazing rock climbing for climbers of all levels. Sport climbing, climbing with the protection of bolts and anchors drilled into rock, is surprisingly accessible to new climbers and those wishing to try tougher climbing grades. The Rockies also offer traditional rock climbing routes (climbed using protective devices placed into cracks and crevasses), including routes that challenge some of the world’s top climbers.
GET A TASTE OF WORLD-CLASS ICE CLIMBING
The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most sought-after waterfalls on the planet, attracting ice climbers from all over the world. But even if you have never swung ice tools at a sheet of ice, local guiding companies will outfit you and give you the know-how you need to make your way upwards.
HIKE THROUGH NARROW CANYONS AT JOHNSTON CANYON ICEWALK
Ice is everywhere you look clinging to rocks, cascading over cliffs and frozen like billowing pillows at the bottom of a solid waterfall. Discover Banff Tours will take a small group of hikers on an extraordinary adventure to see a remarkable landscape created by water. The Johnston Canyon Icewalk is a hike through a narrow canyon where thundering waterfalls of summer are silenced in the chill of winter.
BANFF CENTRE MOUNTAIN FILM AND BOOK FESTIVAL
Every year, a swarm of climbers, adventurers, filmmakers, authors and adventure lovers descend on the Banff Centre for what has become one of the largest mountain film and book festivals in the world. Adventure-packed films and stories take center-stage for a week of screenings while presentations by the “Who’s Who” of the outdoor industry will make your palms sweat with excitement. Attend the festivals and see the action for yourself or attend the World Tour. The Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival hits the road each year and screens a collection of films in cities all over the world. View the book award winners and compile a reading list.