9 Best Winter Adventures near Banff, Canada

You could spend an entire season (or life!) in Banff and never get bored! We had only a few days to explore Banff National Park and the surrounding areas this past February, and boy was it amazing! (check out our 7 day itinerary here) In this post I am sharing with you 9 of the best winter adventures near Banff… and trust me, you need to try all of them!

9 of the Best Winter Adventures near Banff

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Ice Skating Lake Louise Renee Roaming

1. Go Ice skating

Grab some skates and hit the ice somewhere magical like Lake Louise. We arrived at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise as the sun was rising, grabbed some skates from Chateau Mountain Sports and hit the freshly groomed rinks by 8:30am. We practically had it all to ourselves and it was an unforgettable experience! I had only skated once or twice and would consider myself a complete beginner, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. Be sure to check out the beautiful man-made ice sculptures nearby the Chateau before you head inside for a toasty hot chocolate.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Johnston Canyon Renee Roaming

2. Hike Johnston Canyon

Located about 30 minutes out of Banff townsite along the Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon is a must visit during your trip to the area. There are options for a short walk, moderate hike or even guided ice climbing tours. Visitors can marvel at frozen waterfalls, icy turquoise streams and snowy pine trees. Be sure to bring some shoe traction such as micro-spikes.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Ice Skating Lake Louise Renee Roaming

3. Hit the slopes

Banff is located nearby some of the best snow terrain in the world – the Big3! (Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay resorts). We opted to spend the day snowboarding at Banff Sunshine Village and had an absolute blast! Sunshine Village has insane mountain views, great snow and they even have a heated chair lift for those extra chilly days. Gear can be rented at the resorts or in Banff townsite. Not into skiing or snowboarding? Mt. Norquay has a tube park for some family fun and plenty of laughs!

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Ice Skating Lake Louise Renee Roaming

4. EXPLORE VERMILLION LAKES

Vermillion Lakes is a popular spot close to town for photographs and to take in beautiful Mount Rundle (the slanted mountain behind Banff). Winter time is perfect for capturing the partially frozen lakes and snow dusting the mountain peaks. To get there, take the Mt. Norquay Road exit and head towards Banff, then turn right onto Vermillion Lakes Access Road. This will then run directly beneath Highway 1 and for several kilometers along the banks of Vermillion Lakes. Sunrise and sunset are both beautiful times of day to visit the area.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Icefields Parkway Renee Roaming

5. DRIVE THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY

You can easily explore at least the first section of the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) on a day trip from Banff. This stunning scenic drive will wind you past beautiful mountains and glacier fed streams. Some must see stops include Lake Louise, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake. You could even consider popping into British Columbia to check out Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park (along the Trans-Canada Hwy).

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Afternoon Tea Lake Louise Fairmont Renee Roaming

6. ENJOY AFTERNOON TEA

If you are a big dessert and tea lover you HAVE to try the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s famous afternoon tea! We first chose our tea (I went with the delicious Organic Jasmine Gold Dragon tea), and then our host brought out a range of finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and desserts. I can report that it was all amazing and almost as good as the stunning lake and mountain view from our table. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Dog Sledding - Renee Roaming

Photo credit: Chris Amat, @christopheramat

7. GO DOG SLEDDING

Who doesn’t love dogs, snow, pine trees and mountain views? Dog sledding is the ultimate winter experience to have on your visit to Banff! Snowy Owl Tours run humane and ethical dog sledding adventures in Canmore (about 20 minutes from Banff). Be sure to book your adventure ahead of time as they sell out quickly!

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Poutine - Renee Roaming

Photo credit: Eddie Burger + Bar

8. EAT LIKE A CANADIAN

Let’s face it… what you eat on vacation is almost as important as the adventures you take! Be sure to try some traditional Canadian poutine from Eddie Burger + Bar, classic cheesy fondue at Waldhaus Restaurant, and a fried dough pastry known as a Beaver Tail in downtown Banff. Some other top food choices are the delicious pizzas from Bear Street Tavern and the exceptional service and food at Chop 1888, Fairmont Banff Springs

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Castle Mountain Renee Roaming

9. SEE CASTLE MOUNTAIN

Located along the beautiful Bow Valley Parkway, Castle Mountain is a gem of the Rockies. To get there (coming from Banff) – drive along the Bow Valley Parkway, you will come to a bridge right as you see a river flowing past Castle Mountain, pull over and park safely to the side of the road. There is a wildlife gate to get down to the river (left of the bridge) – make sure to keep it closed after entering and exiting. The river provides beautiful reflections for photographing Castle Mountain at sunrise or sunset.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Helicopter Renee Roaming

OTHER THINGS TO DO

There are numerous other options for adventure nearby Banff and around Alberta. You could check out the Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola, take a helicopter ride out of Canmore, visit some local hot springs, try snow shoeing nearby Lake Louise, cross-country ski to Moraine Lake, and more! Like I said, Banff has endless opportunities for adventure in the winter.

 

CHECK OUT MY 7 DAY ALBERTA ITINERARY 

ULTIMATE WINTER TRAVEL GUIDE TO ALBERTA CANADA – 7 DAY ITINERARY - Renee Roaming

PIN THIS POST FOR LATER!

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canada

 

A massive thank you to Travel Alberta for making this trip possible. As always, all opinions and views are my own. Copyright all imagery – Renee & Matthew Hahnel, Hahnel Visuals Co.

 

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You could spend an entire season (or life!) in Banff and never get bored! We had only a few days to explore Banff National Park and the surrounding areas this past February, and boy was it amazing! (check out our 7 day itinerary here) In this post I am sharing with you 9 of the best winter adventures near Banff… and trust me, you need to try all of them!

9 of the Best Winter Adventures near Banff

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Ice Skating Lake Louise Renee Roaming

1. Go Ice skating

Grab some skates and hit the ice somewhere magical like Lake Louise. We arrived at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise as the sun was rising, grabbed some skates from Chateau Mountain Sports and hit the freshly groomed rinks by 8:30am. We practically had it all to ourselves and it was an unforgettable experience! I had only skated once or twice and would consider myself a complete beginner, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. Be sure to check out the beautiful man-made ice sculptures nearby the Chateau before you head inside for a toasty hot chocolate.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Johnston Canyon Renee Roaming

2. Hike Johnston Canyon

Located about 30 minutes out of Banff townsite along the Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon is a must visit during your trip to the area. There are options for a short walk, moderate hike or even guided ice climbing tours. Visitors can marvel at frozen waterfalls, icy turquoise streams and snowy pine trees. Be sure to bring some shoe traction such as micro-spikes.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Ice Skating Lake Louise Renee Roaming

3. Hit the slopes

Banff is located nearby some of the best snow terrain in the world – the Big3! (Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay resorts). We opted to spend the day snowboarding at Banff Sunshine Village and had an absolute blast! Sunshine Village has insane mountain views, great snow and they even have a heated chair lift for those extra chilly days. Gear can be rented at the resorts or in Banff townsite. Not into skiing or snowboarding? Mt. Norquay has a tube park for some family fun and plenty of laughs!

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Ice Skating Lake Louise Renee Roaming

4. EXPLORE VERMILLION LAKES

Vermillion Lakes is a popular spot close to town for photographs and to take in beautiful Mount Rundle (the slanted mountain behind Banff). Winter time is perfect for capturing the partially frozen lakes and snow dusting the mountain peaks. To get there, take the Mt. Norquay Road exit and head towards Banff, then turn right onto Vermillion Lakes Access Road. This will then run directly beneath Highway 1 and for several kilometers along the banks of Vermillion Lakes. Sunrise and sunset are both beautiful times of day to visit the area.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Icefields Parkway Renee Roaming

5. DRIVE THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY

You can easily explore at least the first section of the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) on a day trip from Banff. This stunning scenic drive will wind you past beautiful mountains and glacier fed streams. Some must see stops include Lake Louise, Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake. You could even consider popping into British Columbia to check out Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park (along the Trans-Canada Hwy).

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Afternoon Tea Lake Louise Fairmont Renee Roaming

6. ENJOY AFTERNOON TEA

If you are a big dessert and tea lover you HAVE to try the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s famous afternoon tea! We first chose our tea (I went with the delicious Organic Jasmine Gold Dragon tea), and then our host brought out a range of finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and desserts. I can report that it was all amazing and almost as good as the stunning lake and mountain view from our table. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Dog Sledding - Renee Roaming

Photo credit: Chris Amat, @christopheramat

7. GO DOG SLEDDING

Who doesn’t love dogs, snow, pine trees and mountain views? Dog sledding is the ultimate winter experience to have on your visit to Banff! Snowy Owl Tours run humane and ethical dog sledding adventures in Canmore (about 20 minutes from Banff). Be sure to book your adventure ahead of time as they sell out quickly!

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Poutine - Renee Roaming

Photo credit: Eddie Burger + Bar

8. EAT LIKE A CANADIAN

Let’s face it… what you eat on vacation is almost as important as the adventures you take! Be sure to try some traditional Canadian poutine from Eddie Burger + Bar, classic cheesy fondue at Waldhaus Restaurant, and a fried dough pastry known as a Beaver Tail in downtown Banff. Some other top food choices are the delicious pizzas from Bear Street Tavern and the exceptional service and food at Chop 1888, Fairmont Banff Springs

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Castle Mountain Renee Roaming

9. SEE CASTLE MOUNTAIN

Located along the beautiful Bow Valley Parkway, Castle Mountain is a gem of the Rockies. To get there (coming from Banff) – drive along the Bow Valley Parkway, you will come to a bridge right as you see a river flowing past Castle Mountain, pull over and park safely to the side of the road. There is a wildlife gate to get down to the river (left of the bridge) – make sure to keep it closed after entering and exiting. The river provides beautiful reflections for photographing Castle Mountain at sunrise or sunset.

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canadia - Helicopter Renee Roaming

OTHER THINGS TO DO

There are numerous other options for adventure nearby Banff and around Alberta. You could check out the Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola, take a helicopter ride out of Canmore, visit some local hot springs, try snow shoeing nearby Lake Louise, cross-country ski to Moraine Lake, and more! Like I said, Banff has endless opportunities for adventure in the winter.

 

CHECK OUT MY 7 DAY ALBERTA ITINERARY 

ULTIMATE WINTER TRAVEL GUIDE TO ALBERTA CANADA – 7 DAY ITINERARY - Renee Roaming

PIN THIS POST FOR LATER!

9 Best Winter Adventures in Banff Canada

 

A massive thank you to Travel Alberta for making this trip possible. As always, all opinions and views are my own. Copyright all imagery – Renee & Matthew Hahnel, Hahnel Visuals Co.

 

Renee Hahnel

Hi! My name is Renee and I'm an Australian photographer, blogger & travel addict. I now call the U.S.A home but you can usually find me wandering the globe with a camera in hand ✈ Let's get lost!

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10 Comments

  1. Anonymous on March 12, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Yay!! This makes me so proud to be Canadian! First off, yes eat like a Canadian 😛 I’m really missing poutine and Tim Hortons here in New Zealand! This post makes me want to go home so bad ( even though I’m in an amazing country ) and explore Alberta some more! I’d love to drive the icefields parkway and for sure see the huskies <3! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Emily on March 13, 2018 at 6:56 am

    Love this post! When Berty and I go to Banff next, we’re definitely using your post as a reference. Thanks for all the good tips! (Especially Johnston Canyon – it looks sooo cool!)

  3. Jayde on March 14, 2018 at 6:08 am

    Wow Renee!! You always make these wintery spots look so magical! I really really want to go dog sledding. It looks like so much fun and I’ve heard the dogs love it too!
    Jayde x

  4. boostlocally on March 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    thanks so much aiya.

  5. Zoe on March 17, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Great blog! I’d love to find myself here one day!

  6. Louise on March 17, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Your photos are so beautiful! Banff is such a stunning place. I don’t know why I’ve never been! We live in BC so it’s not THAT far from us. Each winter we keep meaning to go but still haven’t done it. Maybe next winter we will finally go 🙂
    I’ve always wanted to try dog sledding! And that afternoon tea looks good 🙂 Thanks for sharing all this info!

  7. Jackie on March 18, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Love your tips Renee and I’m definitely adding them to my bucket list of things to do. Stunning photos as well.

  8. Roman on April 11, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for the great winter holiday ideas!
    I never tried dog sledding! I think it will be the most interesting occupation from your list!
    Have a nice day!

  9. Indie and Toby on November 19, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    We would love to go dog sledding ??

  10. Roxanne on November 28, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Beautiful photos! What red jacket are you wearing?

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Renee Hahnel

Hi! My name is Renee and I'm an Australian photographer, blogger & travel addict. I now call the U.S.A home but you can usually find me wandering the globe with a camera in hand ✈ Let's get lost!

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I recently returned home from an incredible week-long trip exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. This spectacular coastal route has it all… think beautiful sea cliffs, a rich history, seemingly endless castles, tons of cute sheep, quiet winding roads, and friendly locals. In this blog post I am sharing a day-by-day breakdown of our week-long road…

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It can be daunting packing for a winter trip to the Arctic, especially when it’s your first time! I’ve visited Arctic destinations like Finland and Iceland during the winter months, as well as extremely cold places like the Canadian Rockies and Colorado. During those trips I have learned what clothing does and doesn’t work and…

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