Banff National Park is one of Alberta’s most treasured gems, and one of the world’s most beautiful places to visit. In summertime, enjoy canoeing, kayaking, and fishing in the aquamarine glacial waters of both Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. Countless miles of hiking trails abound in and around Banff National Park, including photogenic Rundle Mountain, called Waskahigan Watchi or “House Mountain” in the native Cree language. Rundle is a popular, though challenging destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The east end of Rundle, or EEOR, provides ample hiking and cycling opportunities. In wintertime, Louise offers ice skating, and the resort often erects a magical ice castle in the lake’s center.
Several ski areas host skiing and snowboarding opportunities and full rental services. The most well-known among ski outfits in Banff are known as the Big Three: Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise. Together, these ski resorts house over 350 ski runs, and service an astonishing 46,000 people per hour! The Canadian ski season is long, with the first runs opening in early November and staying open all the way through May.
For the most adventurous travelers, several outfits in Banff also offer dog sled tours in winter. What better way to explore the glorious Canadian Rockies than to follow in the footsteps of its original pioneers? Tour guides can drive the sled as you enjoy the ride, or, for a true adventure, you can even drive your own sled.
Banff Hot Springs, Radium Hot Springs, and Miette Hot Springs parks are a year-round must for any visitors. The calcium, sulfate, and bicarbonate-rich mineral waters steam at a cozy 80 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a soothing soak touted to cure a variety of health ailments. The springs pools are nicely developed, and appropriate for all ages, including shallow areas for families with small children.
The wilds of Banff are a Mecca for wildlife enthusiasts. There are few experiences more rewarding than catching a glimpse of wild animals. Densely populated with more than 50 mammal species and 250 species of birds, your odds of spotting animals in their natural setting here are very good. From spring to fall, be on the lookout for black bears and grizzlies. Along the trail, expect to see mule deer, elk, and moose foraging for food. Mountain goats are often known to wander across the roadways during the day, and you can also scan rocky mountain sides for bighorn sheep. Other animals commonly seen in Banff are coyotes, wolves, foxes, and Bald eagles. Be a patient and quiet observer, and let your other senses guide you as well. Listen for the ghostly whistle of bull elk in the autumn, or for the evening call of distant wolf packs. Our local staff members can also help you find some of the best places for wildlife sightings. For travelers on a budget, wildlife viewing is not only thrilling, but relatively cheap.
Weather in the high country can be difficult to sum up. Like everywhere along the Rocky Mountains, temperatures fluctuate tremendously from day to night, and weather patterns can sometimes be mysteriously summoned out of nowhere. It’s not uncommon for a snowy night to be followed by a warm, sunny day, and then end with a wind storm. Visitors to the Rockies should come prepared with layers of clothes and a flexible attitude towards the climate here.
June is warm, but is also the rainiest month of the year. July and August are the warmest months in Banff, with average daytime temperatures reaching around 72°F (21°C), and nighttime lows dipping to about 45°F (7°C). These are the best months to plan outdoor activities like hiking or cycling. For winter activities, December and January are the snowiest and coldest, with daytime reaching only the mid-twenties Fahrenheit, and night temperatures ranging into the negatives on both scales.
In the mountains, one should always be prepared for only two real weather paradigms; summer and winter. The gentle transitional seasons of spring and fall aren’t really reliable up here, when temperatures and precipitation still fluctuate so much that the days really tend to all fall into one category or the other, or all four seasons in a single day. The best way to enjoy our beautiful mountains is to dress for a wide range of temperatures every day, so that weather surprises can’t ruin your trip.
We know that you’ll enjoy your stay at our beautiful Banff hotel, and look forward to helping you make lasting memories in one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Whatever you need, the High Country Inn is your top accommodation for comfort and quality service. Come see us soon! Adventures are waiting!