Come explore Banff, Canada’s first National Park for yourself. You have to see it to believe it. A vacation on the mountain is not exclusive to skiers and snowboarders as one might assume. Come for a little R&R or an adventure or both.
A quick flight to Calgary and a 1 ½ hour drive and I was in paradise. My other option was a 9 hour drive from Vancouver but I was anxious to get there. Downtown Banff is condensed into one Main Street with a few streets branching off from it. With hotels at one end, shops and restaurants at the other and jaw-dropping views in every direction, I was mesmerized from the get-go.
My stay at The Fox was like having my own chalet. There is even a hot tub in the center of the hotel that resembles a natural grotto and is open to the sky. What better way to wrap up a busy day of snowshoeing Sunshine Meadows or ice walking Johnston Canyon than soaking in a warm and relaxing hot tub under the stars!
Our hotel room
Snowshoeing on Top of the World at Sunshine Meadows
They say if you can walk you can snowshoe so don’t miss White Mountain Adventure’s tour at Sunshine Village Ski Resort. For just $79 plus tax they provide a shuttle from Banff to the mountain, gondola and chairlift tickets, snowshoes, a hot drink and cookies, a knowledgeable guide and an exhilarating adventure.
Our group of 9 plus guide set off for the very top of Sunshine Meadows by gondola then chairlift. At the top we ditched the crowds, ducked under the rope to get outside of the boundaries and began our tour. It was back country at its finest. There were no pre-marked paths or perimeters, just miles and miles of fresh powder and not a single footprint in sight. Up and down hills we went, along flatland and zig-zagged through trees. For the most part we had free-rein to run, slip or slide our way down the hill as the Avalanche risk was moderate. As we walked through meadows there was not another person in sight, just our group embraced by mountains. Silence. Then I understood why this tour is named “Snowshoeing On Top Of The World”.
I highly suggest this for everyone, skiers and snowboard enthusiasts included. It is a whole different rush than racing down a mountain but a rush none the less. The adrenaline of running freely down a hill of fresh powder gets the heart rate up. It is no walk in the park so if you get fatigued, follow in someone else’s tracks. Two hours into it, we had done a loop that criss-crossed between BC and Alberta and ended back at the gondola. The views, the fresh powder and the adventure in itself is a must-do.
Cost – $79.oo plus tax
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Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk
Discover Banff is the only tour company that offers the Johnston Canyon Icewalk at night. This busy tourist hotspot is a whole other experience when the sun goes down.
What a bonus to be picked up at my hotel The Fox by the Discover Banff shuttle. Once aboard we were given headlamps and set off for Johnson Canyon , a 30 minute drive. It was a bit nerve-wracking driving up a narrow, icy road with only the bus headlights to guide us! When we arrived at 7:30 pm it was already pitch black. First order of business was to put on ice cleats, a metal and velcro contraption that goes over snow boots for a better grip on icy paths.
For over an hour we followed catwalks that led to the Lower Falls where our guides illuminated it in its entirety with their flashlights. From there we walked through a natural cave for a closer view of the falls. We opted to turn off all sources of light including headlamps, phones and cameras and walk back in the dark, each one of us depending on the person in front to guide the way and warn of possible mishaps. This tested my ability and faith in someone who had been a stranger just an hour prior.
The ice walk was never on my bucket list until I did it. Be sure to put it on yours!
Cost – $66.00 plus tax
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Banff is an amazing place. There is something for everyone. It’s affordable, relaxing, and full of adventures. The perfect vacation without having to travel too far.