If you love the great outdoors, you may have daydreamed about visiting some of the amazing national parks in the United States and Canada. Both of these countries have astounding national parks systems, and there are acres and acres of protected wilderness. Lately, Banff National Park in Canada has been bringing in more and more tourists each year, and it’s easy to see why. You may already be aware that you can get great views of the mountains and go canoeing on the blue waters of the lakes, but there is so much more to Banff than that.
For many people, Banff is starting to edge out glamorous ski resort towns like Aspen, and if you ever get the chance to visit them and compare the two, you’ll see why. If not, we’ll lay it all out for you right here. When it comes to true natural beauty, Banff is tough to beat: it truly has everything, and you are guaranteed beautiful views and an endless list of attractions and activities no matter where you stay in the area. Banff has the best of both worlds. From the resorts to the hiking trails, here are 25 reasons Banff is the new Aspen.
25 Lake Louise Is Simply Breathtaking
The real star of Banff is the famous Lake Louise. If you’ve ever seen photos of happy travelers at Banff, there’s a good chance they were posing in front of Lake Louise. According to Trip Advisor, Lake Louise is easily one of the most popular attractions at Banff—and you’ll be hard pressed to find a single traveler who didn’t appreciate its beauty. If you have only one afternoon to spend at Banff, do not miss out on the views of Lake Louise.
24 The Icefields Parkway Is The Ultimate Roadtrip
This is exactly why Banff is the real deal: even the drive in has the most incredible views. According to National Geographic, Icefields Parkway is basically one of Canada’s “national treasures.” This long and winding highway will take you through the Canadian Rockies all the way to Banff and several other national parks. The drive is far from boring: you will be treated to the beautiful sight of the snow covered mountain peaks as you make your way to Banff.
23 Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Looks Like A Castle
The most luxurious place to stay in Banff is definitely the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. According to Expedia, this massive hotel was built in 1888, and it still has that old fashioned charm. As you can imagine, the accommodations are top notch, and if the natural landscape of Banff weren’t so beautiful, you might never want to leave the hotel! Imagine waking up here on a snowy morning and then heading out to ski for the day? Sounds like a dream!
22 The Local Wildlife Is Stunning
Have you ever seen moose, bears, elks, and deer all in one place? It’s not often that you can see even one of these beautiful creatures in the wild, but at Banff, you can actually see them all in person. According to Banff and Beyond, witnessing these animals is a huge privilege, and while travelers are always encouraged to take photos, you should never get too close and bother them—remember, it’s really their home, and we’re just the visitors!
21 You Can Take A Leisurely Cruise Around Lake Minnewanka
Yes, Lake Louise is truly a sight to behold—but there are other gorgeous lakes within the boundaries of Banff. According to Trip Advisor, taking a relaxing cruise on a boat around Lake Minnewanka is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. If this is something you’re interested in, you’ll want to plan your visit for the warmer months. That’s the perfect time to head out on the lake and just sit back while the captain takes the wheel.
20 The Town Of Banff Is Quaint And Charming
The wonders of Banff don’t stop once you leave the park—the neighboring town is also lovely! According to Lonely Planet, this little resort town is super cute and has a little European Alps vibe—how charming! If the weather is looking rough, it might be a good idea to hit the town instead. There are tons of ski shops and other clothing stores, as well as cute cafes where you can grab a hot chocolate and settle in with a book.
19 You Can Take A Gondola For The Best Views
Want to take your visit to Banff all the way to the next level? According to US News, no trip to Banff is complete without a ride on the gondola. The gondola will take you up above the mountains, and there is no view that can compete. You will be able to see the Rockies, the lakes, the forests stretching as far as the eye can see—well, let’s just say that this will be a moment you can’t forget.
18 You Can Take A Cave Tour
So, let’s say that you run out of things to do at Banff—it’s tough, but maybe you’re a traveler who likes to hustle. What’s an outdoorsy tourist to do? According to To Do Canada, your best bet is to mix things up and head underground. That’s right, you can actually take a tour of the caves beneath Banff! This is a super exciting option for anyone who wants to get off the beaten path at Banff for the day.
17 Banff Has 1,000 Miles Of Hiking Trails
Do you like to work out? Do you always find yourself struggling to stay active on vacation despite this? Well, we have the perfect solution for you: plan your next trip to Banff ASAP. According to Momondo, Banff has over 1,000 miles of hiking trails! So bring a map and don’t get lost, because you could easily spend your whole trip hiking through the mountains if you want. Talk about a good workout—you’ll come home in even better shape!
16 The Canadian Rockies Are Unbelievable
The Canadian Rockies should be known as a wonder of the natural world. These peaks will blow your mind. According to Thrillist, locals to this region often say that the Canadian Rockies has the most amazing scenery in North America. Yes, the whole continent! So if you have limited time to spend in Canada and need to see the highlights, head out to Banff to see these mountains for yourself. We promise that you will not be disappointed with your trip.
15 A Guide Can Take You For A Night Hike
Obviously, hiking at Banff during the day would already be an amazing experience—but what if you could take things up another notch? What if you could make the experience even more spectacular? Well, according to To Do Canada, hiking at Banff doesn’t just have to be a daytime activity—you can also choose a clear, starry night to hit the trails. You’ll have to go with a guide to be safe, of course, but it will be worth every penny!
14 The Fall Colors Are Mesmerizing
If you want to ski, visit Banff in the winter. If you want to take a canoe out and go for a swim, visit in the summer. But is it worth it to visit in the fall? According to The Huffington Post, the answer is yes. Fall is actually one of the best times to visit Banff because the colors of the leaves are so amazing. It also means that all of the attractions will be much less crowded—perfect for photos!
13 You Can Go Horseback Riding
Going horseback riding along the trails of the Canadian Rockies sounds like a dream come true, and if you plan a trip to Banff, it is totally possible. According to Trip Advisor, you can book a horseback riding tour with a local guide and experience the best of Banff on horseback! This is a great way to spend a fall afternoon in Banff—just imagine going horseback riding and watching the autumn leaves fall around you. It sounds wonderful!
12 Banff Has Canada’s Largest Ski Area
If you love to ski, look no further than Banff for the ultimate slope side experience. According to Forbes, Banff is home to Canada’s largest ski resort. So if you’re the type of skier who can spend all day out on the mountain without getting cold, this is exactly where you need to be. You will never run out of new trails to explore, but it might be tough to concentrate on the trail in front of you with those views!
11 You Can Relax In The Upper Hot Springs
No, you don’t have to go all the way to Iceland to soak in an amazing hot spring—you can also do that at Banff. According to Lonely Planet, the Upper Hot Springs at Banff are the perfect place to go to relax after a long day of hiking, skiing, horseback riding, exploring the caves, you name it! You can also get spa treatments done inside. This is a great activity to save for the last day of your trip.
10 It’s Just As Spectacular In The Summer
By now, you have probably figured out that no matter what time of year you choose to visit Banff, you will be in for a real treat. According to The Huffington Post, summer is a wonderful time to visit Banff. Imagine spending all day floating on the lakes, hiking in the shade of the forest, and waking up every morning to sunny skies? If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you may want to consider a summer visit over winter.
9 There Are Countless Amazing Local Restaurants
The fun in Banff doesn’t stop when you head indoors. Nope, the local food here is simply amazing, and no matter what your dietary needs are, you can find something to suit your tastes. According to Banff and Beyond, you definitely do not want to miss the most important meal of the day in this town: brunch! You’ve got to fuel up properly before a long day out in the mountains, right? And make sure to try some local maple syrup!
8 You Can Shop For Traditional Local Art
If you get the chance to visit Banff, make sure to check out the creative side of this area. According to Great Big Canvas, there are lots of gorgeous art galleries right in town. There are also some local shops where you can purchase traditional crafts made by the First Nations indigenous people. This is a great way to support these communities and bring home something to remember your trip by! Shopping in Banff is an experience you cannot miss.
7 You Can Go Dog Sledding Through The Snow
Wow! This is something that you definitely can’t do at home! Well, unless you live in Alaska. But if you’re like most of us, dog sledding is not exactly an activity you usually have the opportunity to do. But according to The Planet D, this is a can’t-miss activity in Banff. The dogs are treated very well by reputable handlers, and these breeds need a ton of exercise, so they LOVE to run. It’s such an incredible wintertime experience.
6 Banff Has The Most Beautiful Sunsets
Sure, there are plenty of places around the world where you can watch a beautiful sunset—but honestly, there is really nothing like a Banff sunset. According to Lonely Planet, many visitors to Banff say that the sunsets there are simply incredible. This is partially because you are far from any city, and you can see the sun and stars without any light pollution. This is why the colors appear so strong and bold, and why the stars shine so brightly.
5 The Rivers Are Teeming With Fish
Do you like fishing? Want to try it out in the basin of the Canadian rockies? Well, Banff is the place for you to be. According to Banff Adventures, the rivers in Banff are full of local species of fish. If you happen to be staying somewhere with a kitchen, you should have no problem bringing home the catch of the day to cook for yourself! This is a fun way to spend a fall afternoon in the heart of Banff.
4 You Can Ice Skate All Winter Long
Skiing and snowboarding are not the only winter sports you can do in Banff—you can also go ice skating! According to Banff and Beyond, there are several resorts in the park that have ice skating rinks set up. You can also go skating on Lake Louise when the ice is thick enough! Just make sure to bundle up with a thick winter coat, hat, and gloves. Oh, and don’t forget to wear the coziest socks that you own—you’ll need them!
3 You Can Enjoy The Thrill Of Snowtubing
So, we’ve got one more winter sport suggestion for your time in Banff—snowtubing! According to Trip Advisor, this is a great activity for family trips, especially if you have relatives that aren’t super interested in skiing or snowboarding but still want to have some fun in the winter wonderland of Banff. Snowtubing is exactly what it sounds like—you sit in a giant tube and just slide down the mountain! Just try your best not to tip and wipe out.
2 If You’re Lucky, You Can See The Northern Lights
Did you know that it is possible to see the northern lights in Banff? You don’t have to go all the way to Norway to experience this incredible natural phenomenon! According to Cheap Flights, it isn’t as common to see the northern lights in Banff as it is in Alaska or Iceland, but it is definitely still possible if you go between November and March. Just head outside on a clear night and wait to see if the magic happens.
1 It’s The Ultimate Destination For Photographers
According to National Geographic, Banff is one of the most incredible national parks for photographers. Let’s be real, with those views, getting a good shot isn’t hard. Wildlife photographers also love Banff because they can get up close and personal with the animals in the park. The lighting is simply incredible—as we mentioned earlier, it’s easier to see the stars here. And those reflections of the mountains on the lakes are honestly a photographer’s dream—this park is so photogenic.
References: tripadvisor.com, nationalgeographic.com, expedia.com, banffandbeyond.com, lonelyplanet.com, usnews.com, todocanada.com, momondo.com, thrillist.com, thehuffingtonpost.com, forbes.com, greatbigcanvas.com, theplanetd.com, banffadventures.com, cheapflights.com