Banff, Alberta is a rustic mountain town set against the backdrop of the looming, snow-capped Canadian Rockies. Oozing with tourist appeal, the town is most well-known for its hot springs, château-like hotels, and close proximity to a plethora of outdoor sports including hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and cycling. Banff was first settled in the 1800’s amidst transcontinental railroad development and has since grown into a famed tourist destination and international hub of the extreme sports world.
Tunnel Mountain is one of the most popular hiking spots in Banff National Park due to its close proximity to the city and easy grades of the trails. Peaking at 5500ft in elevation, the alluring summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Bow River Valley. It is a 2.7mile hike roundtrip featuring viewing possibilities of the Rockies’ renowned wildlife including elk, sheep, goats, and bears. Stay alert due to former incidences of rockfall, flash floods, and otherwise unpredictable weather conditions. However, the moderate risks are worth the spectacular sights. Don’t forget to bring a camera.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Enjoy basking in the naturally-occurring hot springs that trickle down from Sulphur Mountain through the Sulphur Mountain Thrust Fault and into a commercially developed pool designed for all ages. The outdoor venue boasts pristine mountain views and also a cool pool for those rare, hot summer days. Banff Upper Hot Springs is the most popular of nine different natural springs that sprinkle the nearby countryside.
Picture an elegant turquoise lake nestled neatly at the feet of the surrounding rocky mountain peaks, encapsulated by snow at their tips. A famous chateau sits at the head of the glacial runoff, offering one of the most luxurious stays in all of Alberta. There you can enjoy scenic kayaking and horseback riding in summer and ice skating in winter. Named after a daughter of Queen Victoria, the location now features many drinking and dining options.
Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Banff Centre
Perhaps the most well-known film festival in the world, the Banff Mountain Film Festival presents an annual collection of selected films and documentaries about outdoor sports and the environment. The Banff Centre held its first event in 1976 and has since launched a World Tour of the festival, reaching out to over 300 cities in more than 20 countries. The films are generally moving, personal accounts of mountain travellers, water lovers, and adventurers whose lives have positively affected their communities.
The Bugaboos: Canada’s Best-Kept Secret
If you dare to venture a few hours from town through the Canadian Rockies, there is a mountain range on the other side that boasts one of the most amazing alpine locations in the world. These elegant granite spires rise high above a glacial field in the midst of the Purcell Mountain Range. They are called the Bugaboos, and they have become the ultimate playground for mountaineers. A long, strenuous hike from the parking lot takes you to lodging options at the base of the spires including a small alpine hut and two primitive campgrounds. If you are going to visit Banff, Canada, a detour through the Rocky Mountains to the Bugaboos will bring you to a whole new height of natural beauty and awe.