Travel is a great opportunity to nourish your body and soul, especially in a place like Banff and Lake Louise where you are surrounded by such majestic natural beauty - it's difficult to not feel inspired here. Amongst the pristine wilderness, vibrant townships, and inherent peacefulness of the landscape, you will find relaxation and rejuvenation.
For hundreds of years people have come to Banff and Lake Louise in search of healing. The area that is now Banff National Park was a sacred place for aboriginal peoples, where medicines were gathered and healing sought in the natural hot springs.
Today, Banff and Lake Louise continues its long tradition of healing and renewal. It is a place to connect with nature, escape the everyday hustle, and find the space to focus on the simple pleasures. Hike up Tunnel Mountain just above the town of Banff to watch the sunrise; sit with a book by the Bow River; participate in a yoga or fitness class; savour the indulgence of a spa treatment; absorb the stillness and silence of the forest; or gaze upon the stars in the crystal clear sky. Banff and Lake Louise is a place where you can truly relax, rejuvenate, and renew.
Banff and Lake Louise's longstanding tradition of rejuvenation continues today with a range of wellness retreats that are available year-round.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers a number of different wellness, mindfulness, and yoga retreats to help you reconnect with yourself and find balance. Some of the retreat offerings include yoga and meditation, health and wellness, creativity, and meditation and writing. These retreats will help you de-stress, while the serene nature of the Canadian Rockies will restore you. There is no better way to find balance, be mindful and remember to breathe.
For centuries people have been drawn to Banff and Lake Louise to bathe in the mineral rich hot springs. Aboriginal peoples sought healing in the hot springs, and since then they've captivated people from all over the world. Today, the Banff Upper Hot Springs are a magical place to sit outside and enjoy the soothing properties of the mineral-rich springs.
Lie back in the hot water, surrounded by snowy mountain peaks and crisp alpine air, and relish the deep relaxation. Sunrise and sunset are particularly good times for the most relaxing visit. Lying back and watching out for shooting stars in the night sky is also very special.
Practising yoga can help you find inner balance and strength. Whether its a vinyasa flow you're looking for or Shavasana, yoga's focus on movement connected with breath will enhance mindfulness and awareness of the present.
In Banff and Lake Louise you could act on the inspiration garnered by the natural surroundings and take a mat outside for your practice. Or, you could practice as part of a like-minded community at a studio in town.
Banff and Lake Louise also hosts an annual yoga festival which brings together teachers of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in a celebration of the area's unique connection between yoga, mountains, and culture. This year, the Banff Yoga Festival will take place May 26th - 28th.
Spa and Wellness Providers
Banff and Lake Louise is the perfect place to indulge in some well-earned self care at one of the many spas or wellness providers found throughout the destination.
Reward yourself with a deep tissue massage treatment after a big day of hiking or indulge in an aromatherapy massage to ease the tension from your stressed neck and shoulders. You could also try a spa treatment, such as a facial or body wrap. It is sure to leave you feeling revitalized and pampered.
Some of the spas, like the Moose Hotel's Meadow Spa + Pools, offer hot pools and mountain top views for you to enjoy after a treatment.
Sound bath, forest bathing, and silence
Why not take the opportunity to experience something different? There are a number of other healing and wellness practices that you could try in Banff and Lake Louise - including sound bathing with crystal bowls, forest bathing, and simply, silence.
For a truly special meditative and healing experience, try a sound bath. Multiple crystal bowls are selected and played especially for you, surrounding you in their powerful vibrations and tones. Amaryllis Crystal Gardens offers sound bathing ceremonies.
“Shinrin-yoku” means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. The concept and practice were developed in Japan during the 1980s as a mode of preventative health care and healing. The idea is simple: spend time in the woods, moving slowly and with intention, and be aware of all the sights, smells, sounds, and textures.
There are plenty of places in Banff National Park where you could try some shinrin-yoku - the forests on Tunnel Mountain are easily accessible from town or take a drive a little further out and find your own special spot.
It might look a little strange at first glance. But when you think more about it, when was the last time you were in silence? In our modern lives we are nearly always accompanied by noises - cars, music, voices, computers, and so on. This “noise pollution” has a demonstrable effect on our brain - and even quality of life. When you are in silence - such as sitting on a mountain top, walking at dawn, or canoeing down a clear river - you are more likely to be completely present and aware in the moment.
If that sounds like something you would like to try, here are some suggestions for where to find the solace of silence in Banff and Lake Louise: Take a walk around Vermilion Lakes as the sun is setting over the mountains. Vermilion Lakes is also a great place to stargaze (make sure you wear plenty of warm clothes and take a blanket to snuggle up in). You could also try hiking amongst the hectares of forested trails or to a hilltop; exploring a cave; stand up paddle boarding on the river; or having a picnic by a lake. Ask a local about where they like to go to experience silence or step into a Visitor Centre.
Arts and Music
The town of Banff has a special energy. Full of people who choose to live and visit here for a shared passion for the mountains and community, Banff has an inspiring arts & culture scene that will energize your creativity and perfectly complement your outdoor explorations.
The Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity is a world-renowned arts and cultural hub. It offers a massive program of live music, art exhibitions, talks, and workshops and is a truly inspiring place. For a list of upcoming events, visit the Banff Centre website.
The Whyte Museum in the town of Banff gives a fascinating insight into the lives of early adventurers and settlers in the Canadian Rockies. They, along with the other museums and historic sites in Banff & Lake Louise, such as Walter Phillips Gallery and the Banff Park Museum, offer a range of exhibits and special programs.
There’s always something happening in Banff and Lake Louise, with a full range of events on offer year-round, from exhibitions to outdoor concerts and creativity workshops. If you are into films, you should check out the National Canadian Film Day at the historic Cave & Basin on April 19 or visit Lux Cinema, which showcases the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Festival films and the latest blockbusters.
A vacation in Banff and Lake Louise is a great opportunity to make healthy food choices that will help nourish your body and mind. Healthy, natural, ethically and locally-sourced food is a part of everyday life - it just feels right when you are spending your days amongst such natural beauty.
Our favourite places to go for healthy food options in Banff and Lake Louise are:
- Nourish - a restaurant serving delicious vegan and vegetarian dinners.
- Three Ravens - the place to go for a fresh, creative fine dining experience.
- Wild Flour Bakery - their soup and sandwich lunches are our favourite.
- Whitebark - especially for their ethically-sourced coffee and house-made muffins.
- Banff Tea Co. - try the special Banff Trail Mix tea blend for an invigorating cup of tea.
- If you would like to cook your own meal, the Banff Farmers' Market has a great selection of local produce and treats. It starts up in early June.
There is no doubt that moving our bodies is good not only for our muscles and our heart, but for our mind and spirit too. There are lots of opportunities to move in Banff and Lake Louise, no matter what your preferred endorphin-boosting activity is.
If you like to work up a sweat indoors, there are some great options for gyms and fitness classes in Banff and Lake Louise. Take a look at the Willow Stream Spa and Sally Borden Fitness & Recreation Centre if you’re after a weights workout, spin or fitness class; or for something different, try a dance class at the Dance for Joy studio.
Outdoors, there’s an endless number of activities to enjoy in all seasons.
If you like striding out on the pavement, some good places to run in Banff National Park include the Bow River pathway, along Vermilion Lakes, and up Tunnel Mountain Drive (a good hill climb) in the town of Banff. In Lake Louise, there are many road runs through the hamlet itself, along the Bow River and around the Visitor Centre and Lake Louise Sport & Recreational Centre.
If you’d prefer to trail run, there are easily accessible trails up Goat Creek, Tunnel Mountain, and Sulphur Mountain. For an adventure, try the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House trail in Lake Louise (in early spring you might encounter some snow and ice). The winding trail alongside the lakeshore of Lake Minnewanka is normally one of the first trails in the area to be clear of snow and offers spectacular views.
There’s something delightfully simple and fulfilling about just going for a walk. It does not have to be far or strenuous, but simply wandering and being aware of your surroundings can foster a sense of peacefulness and presence. There are lots of beautiful places to walk in Banff and Lake Louise. Some of our favourites are Bow Falls, Vermilion Lakes, the Fenlands Trail, Consolation Lakes, and, if you don’t mind some hills, try Tunnel Mountain in Banff and the Lake Agnes Tea House in Lake Louise.
If you savour a physical challenge, there are plenty more strenuous hikes to take on around Banff and Lake Louise. We enjoy Sulphur Mountain (the views it offers across the valley are stunning, and you have the option of saving your knees by taking the Banff Gondola down); Sentinel Pass; the Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass trail, and Mount Fairview Summit. For a list of all the hikes in the area, visit Parks Canada.
During spring in Banff and Lake Louise you will often have the opportunity to enjoy both warm sunshine in the valley and winter fun higher in the mountains. You could try ice skating or downhill skiing - Mt Norquay is a 5 minute drive from the town of Banff, Sunshine Village is a 15 minute drive, and the Lake Lake Louise Ski Resort is a 40 minute drive. If you want a late spring-skiing experience, Sunshine Village is open until the third week in May.
Banff National Park is blessed with beautifully pristine lakes and rivers. We think the best way to experience the crystal blue water and truly absorb their tranquility is by canoe or stand up paddleboard. When you are paddling gently through the shimmering water, accompanied only by the sounds of lapping water and birds calling, we think you will agree. You can hire both canoes and stand up paddleboards from the Banff Canoe Club. Lessons are also available.
The Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course’s setting is particularly magical. You won’t find many more scenic settings for a round of golf anywhere, situated under the mighty peaks of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain and overlooked by the fairytale castle of the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. View a flyover of the course to see for yourself. The 27 hole course is open from May to October.