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Your guide to Banff
All About Banff
Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies within Banff National Park — Canada’s first National Park and the world’s third — the town of Banff offers outdoor activities year-round and stunning mountain views. Banff Avenue was actually oriented to provide the perfect view of Cascade Mountain towering over the city.
In summer, canoes and kayaks glide across Moraine Lake as the calm, glacial water mirrors the surrounding mountain peaks. Hikers climb the steep trail leading to Saskatchewan Glacier for epic views. Winter brings snowboarders and skiers to Banff’s three area resorts and the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains while cross-country skiing around Lake Louise offers serene and stunning wilderness views.
While outdoor adventure may be the main draw, Banff has plenty to do indoors too, including the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, featuring concerts and dance performances, and the Willock & Sax Gallery showcasing historical works of iconic artists.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Banff
The best times to visit Banff are from June to August and December to March. Nature lovers will be able to explore the park while temperatures are warm, and summer months are a great time to book Banff rentals. In June, the weather begins to warm up, and the Banff Iiniskim Powwow welcomes people of all nations to experience a beautiful cross-cultural event filled with singing and dancing.
Exploring Banff during shoulder seasons can be a gamble, as the area occasionally experiences blizzards, but if you check the weather before you go there’s still plenty to do in the fall.
Winter brings ample snowfall, perfect for skiers. Winter temps change quickly, though, so make sure to pack your layers. No matter what time of year you visit Banff, you’ll want to pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the intense ultraviolet rays at this high altitude.
Top things to do in Banff
One of Banff’s most popular visual highlights, Moraine Lake is an hour’s drive north of the town. Located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the lake mirrors the snowcapped peaks of the surrounding mountains. There are ample hiking trails here for all skill levels. For a leisurely, scenic stroll, take the Moraine Lakeshore path. If you’re looking for more of a workout, try the two-hour Consolation Lake trail, and you’ll be rewarded with alpine meadows and the Quadra Glacier.
Banff Sightseeing Gondola
For unforgettable views of Banff, sit back and soar atop Banff’s peaks in a gondola. Only five minutes from town, the gondola allows you to float up Sulphur Mountain and enjoy sweeping views on a clear day. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy the interpretive centre, restaurants, and hiking trails.
For the daring, you can walk along the ridgeline and see the Cosmic Ray Station — a National Historic Site of Canada. Once known as Canada’s most important cosmic ray observatory, it’s now known for its stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and valley below.
Upper Hot Springs
The Banff Upper Hot Springs were discovered in 1883 when three rail workers stumbled upon hot water and steam coming from a cave on the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain. They continue to be a popular destination for those looking to relax among the serene atmosphere and stunning alpine views. In winter sit in the pools and watch snow fall atop surrounding peaks. These pools are also prime spots for sunrise and sunset. The baths are open late into the evening, year round and there are amenities here too, including a cafe and rental options for swimsuits, towels, and lockers.