Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Banff Top 10

1. Fairmont & Surprise Corner
Whether you stay at a Fairmont or not, if you are in the Banff area you will undoubtedly come across one of these beautiful castles hotels. The first being the Fairmont Banff Springs or the "Castle in the Rockies" and the second is Chateau Lake Louise. There are a few viewpoints to see the Banff Fairmont with its beautiful mountainside backdrop, my favourite being Surprise Corner! Surprise Corner is not far from the main downtown area of Banff. It has a parking lot and a lookout area.
*The hotel is also great to go inside and explore. We also stayed overnight which I will discuss more in a later post.

2. Lake Minnewanka

Very close to the Banff town area is Lake Minnewanka. The road creates a complete loop where there are lots of places to take pictures and get out to explore. Parts of this loop are known for wildlife spotting. During certain times of the year they also do Boat Cruises and canoe rentals.

3. Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway runs parallel to the main highway towards Lake Louise. It is considered the scenic route as you must go at slower speeds due to the amount of wildlife in the area. They do close this road during the evening to early morning to allow for the wildlife to pass through the area. Therefore your best chances are when it first opens or right before it closes. Besides the wildlife there are many beautiful viewpoints along the way. It is also the road you take to get to my next top 10 thing to do...

4.  Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon Hiking Trail is found along the Bow Valley Parkway. It is an extremely popular hiking trail but it lives up to the hype. The trail follows a beautiful river with two main waterfalls to finish each path. Neither waterfall was very impressive but they are still pretty nonetheless, but the trail itself is what I found to be the reward of the hike. Bring lots of water and enjoy!

5. Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is located in the Banff town area. I had first heard of the area for wildlife spotting but what I have come to love it for is the breathtaking views with the mountain reflections. It is a narrow inconspicuous road to drive down but it is worth the exploration. I recommend going in the early evening to get the best light and reflections!

6. Upper Hot Springs

I feel the need to preface this being in my top 10, with saying that it is not the best hot spring I have ever been to, however I still really enjoyed my time here. It is the highest elevation of a Hot Springs in Canada, located in the Rocky Mountains and the water is 100% natural mineral water! We came here to relax after our hike of Johnston Canyon and it did the job!

7. Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is a must-do on any Banff goers list. My favourite part was the "hike" up Sulphur Mountain. The pathway on the way to the top of  Sulphur Mountain had breathtaking 360-degree views! Did I mention there is a Starbucks in the lobby where you can have order your coffee at the highest elevation in Canada (see a theme here?).

8. Moraine Lake

Our visit to Moraine Lake was in the beginning of June so the lake was just beginning to melt. Although we really missed seeing it in its full beauty, its frozen form is honestly still stunning as well. Moraine Lake is the lesser known of the two lakes but I can imagine in the summer it would be just as stunning as Lake Louise and possibly a bit less busy so I wouldn't miss it!

9. Lake Louise

I'm sure by now you have guessed that this would be on my list! Lake Louise is the most picturesque and famous lake in Canada! Once again I didn't visit it in its full glory but luckily it was a bit more melted than Moraine. It was truly beautiful and if it isn't on your bucketlist it should be!!

10. Columbia Icefield

Technically I'm cheating as the Columbia Icefield is not Banff but if you have found yourself in Banff then I can not recommend enough the drive up to the Icefields. They are halfway to Jasper, we were able to drive there, do the tours and drive back in the same day with enough time to still do other exploring in Banff. This was a highlight of the entire trip for me. Not only being on the Icefield itself but also the drive up the Icefields Parkway is just crazy beautiful and full of wildlife!

Icefields Parkway

The Glacier Adventure
Glacier Skywalk

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