Banff is one of those places you’ll often see plastered across travel brochures for Canada. That’s whether it’s the turquoise waters of Lake Louise in the summer, or the frosty slopes and sleigh rides in the winter. And for good reason too: it’s not coincidence you’ll recognize its scenery. In fact, it’s testament to its beautiful, varied landscapes that epitomize the values of Canada itself: getting outdoors.
Having not ventured beyond the province of BC since moving to Vancouver last year, it was only right I should explore a little further. Fellow Brits will sympathize with my slightly sceptical idea of a ten hour drive to Banff, Alberta. However, let’s not forget this is the second largest country in the world. So shoving our bags into the trunk of the car, we set sail for Banff National Park.
The Road to Banff
In all honesty, one of my favourite bits about road tripping is stopping for breaks in bizarre places. By this, I mean places that certainly wouldn’t be a destination otherwise. Having worked up an appetite by the time we reached Hope, BC, we pulled into one of the few options other than McDonald’s. Introducing the classy establishment of Rolly’s Diner. I’ll forgive you if you weren’t aware it’s also the HQ of the Flat Earth Society. Whilst it certainly helped to fill a hole, I’d love for fellow Brits to explain what the menu’s ‘Yorkshire Rarebit’ is. Anyone?
Having left Hope, we were off on the life defying Coquihalla Highway (it’s famously dicey). Luckily, we made it through without a scrape. The terrain began to change and before we knew it, we were well into the Rockies.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Our next pitstop was the ski town of Revelstoke (or ‘Revy’ as it’s fondly known by locals). An interesting little town, it certainly has a wild wild west feeling to it. We did, however, bypass the local saloon in favour of the Taco Club, much recommended for fellow travellers passing through. The temperatures had also noticeably dropped as we edged our way closer to the Alberta border.
RimRock Resort, Banff
By 11pm, we’d made it! Welcome to the RimRock Resort, where we were spending the first night of our stay in Banff National Park.
Although our view didn’t reveal too much in the midnight darkness, we woke up excitedly to spectacular mountain views in the morning.
Banff Hot Springs
We proceeded with two of my favourite things: coffee and breakfast! Whilst it was early, we headed to Banff Hot Springs just around the corner from our hotel to beat the crowds.
It was amazing to soak in the snowy mountain views from 40 degree water in the subzero temperatures.
Banff National Parks
After a relaxing dip in Banff Hot Springs, we went into the town centre of Banff to explore the local area. I was interested to see what the famous mountain town was like. It reminded me a lot of Whistler meets the Wild Wild West. A saloon with swinging doors wouldn’t be out of place!
Naturally, a nod to the UK! After exploring the town, we went for a walk along to Bow Falls. From here, you can see the famous Fairmont Banff Springs building which bears resemblance to a Scottish castle.
Fairmont Banff Springs
It was even more impressive from inside. We stopped in for a quick cup of tea and a glimpse across to the mountains. The hotel itself is extremely majestic and really does resemble a beautiful castle. Although we didn’t stay at the Banff Springs, we were lucky enough to have a night in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise that night.
Fenland Trail, Banff National Park
If you’re lucky enough to have an afternoon spare in Banff, be sure to check out the nearby trails for a steady hike. We checked out the Fenland Trail, which was so pretty with its river and mountain views. It was beautiful albeit super slippy in the ice, so make sure you wear good shoes!
If you have a car, why not drive over to the well named Lake Minnewanka for a short hike around. Around or across, depending on the time of year you visit – perhaps the icy lake like us?
Next stop – Lake Louise!
What do you like to do in Banff? Leave your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below!