There are so many fun things to do in Banff during the winter. Although we were a little limited in some of the outdoor activities due to lack of snow, which we were maybe a week or two a little early for some better snow. Regardless, we found some fun things to do.
Johnston Canyon Banff
We were told by our concierge that the ice hike at Johnston Canyon was a must do. It is an activity that can be done by yourself or there are tours. I would suggest just doing on your own. It’s free and the trails are easy to follow and guide the way. If you do decide to do on your own, you will need to rent some crampons or ice shoes before you get there. Crampons (yes it’s a silly name) are really effective, it’s like adding tire chains to your boots. They are inexpensive to rent around $8 CAD at any of the ski rental stores. We actually thought they’d be a good thing around home when you need to shovel or snow blow so you can have you own courtesy of Amazon.
There are three different hikes that you can do so you can go for a short hike or longer. You’ll be able to see beautiful scenery and waterfalls on all of them. The first portion of the hike takes you to the lower falls. It’s about a .7-mile walk that is smooth and flat the whole way there. It’s so beautiful and great spots for some photos. There is a small little tunnel to go through and get another view of the waterfall, just watch you head.
If you are feeling good at this point and want to continue, the upper falls are about 1.6 miles. It’s a little steeper, as you are going up in elevation, and some rougher areas, but still a walk a novice person can do. It is worth it if you are feeling up to it. There are two beautiful lookout spots and the last one it is breath taking. If you’re lucky you can see some people ice climbing. Looks fun, but not sure I’d be up for that, ha. Our journey ended here and we made our trek back to the parking lot. If you’re still wanting more you can continue the trail to the ink pots, it’s a 1.9-mile hike from the Upper Falls. The Ink Pots are seven pools of green colored mineral springs that lead to an open meadow. Sounds beautiful, but had to leave that for next time.
Wow, just wow! Everything about Lake Louise was priceless. I’ve seen pictures before, but seeing it in person was breath taking. We were so fortunate that there was only a hand full of people there. Felt like we had this magical place all to ourselves. It was a little eerie at first walking out on a frozen lake, but seeing the mountains and the calmness you almost forgot.
You can go ice skating on the lake this time of year. It wasn’t quite ready when we were there, but they were in the process of working on it. If you go during this time, I’ve heard it is something you must do. There is also some dog sledding that you can do around this area.
Don’t forget to stop in at the Lakeview Lounge – Fairmont Lake Louise for a hot toddy to warm up and enjoy the view just a little bit longer.
Shopping in Banff
There is a lot of fun shopping to do in Banff. When the rest of the crew went off to ski, I spent the morning walking around the town. There are some cute boutiques as well as some bigger stores like Patagonia and the GAP. My favorite shops were all the unique gift shops. Tons of fun gifts to bring Home. They had the most adorable gifts for kids (pjs, stuffed animals, fun slippers). Lots of good places to pop in and get a snack or coffee. There is even a Starbucks on the corner.
Skiing in Banff
Even though there wasn’t the best snow, there was still enough to do some skiing. I am not an avid skier, so I sat out this time while the rest of the crew headed to Sunshine Village. We asked a lot of locals where they preferred to ski and Sunshine kept coming up, so they figured it must be good. They had a wonderful day with some beautiful views. Not all runs were open, but they had a fun time and were glad they went. Here is a great website talking about all the different ski options in Banff.
There were a few things on my list that we didn’t get to do, but I wanted to send some helpful links on. Top of my list was a sleigh ride, then dog sledding and snowmobiling. I guess it’s always good to leave something till next time.