I was going through old trip pictures and found all these great memories in Banff last year so I figured I would add this post as something to look back on. We took advantage of the free national park passes for Canada’s 150th birthday. We went in the winter and it was freezing the entire time! I can’t wait to go back here in the summer or fall. While I’m working up in Bonnyville this October and November I am going to for sure try to drive down to Banff/Canmore for a few days if I have the chance! I do think it was a great choice to experience Banff during the winter, though. We did so many cool things and the mountains look so different covered in snow. Andrew and I planned this trip and my parents and sister and her husband tagged along for the end of our trip which made it so much fun! These pictures make me so happy because it was for sure one of my favourite trips I’ve taken so far.
When we got to Banff, the first stop was the Sulphur Mountain Gondola. We put so many layers on, ski pants included, and rode the 10 minute ride to the top. Sadly, the windows of the gondola were so covered in frost that it was hard to see anything during the ride. It was so cold up there we could only stay outside of the main building for a few minutes at a time and our Go Pro stopped working due to the temperature!! It was spectacular being about 7500 feet up with a view of the Rockies. We ended up having lunch at Sky Bistro with the best view ever. This was the perfect way to begin our week in the mountains and soak in all of the beauty from above.
Next, we headed to some stables nearby and enjoyed a chilly sleigh ride surrounded by the mountains. It was definitely too cold but we bundled up and had fur blankets to cover us. The sun started setting and it was absolutely gorgeous! You can tell how cold we were from the ice in our hair!
We went and checked into our hotel which had an outdoor patio and outdoor hot tub. Even though it was too cold to enjoy the outdoors, I snapped some pics of our beautiful view. Is this real life!? We went to Banff Ave which is the main street with all the cute shops and restaurants. We found a great brewery called Banff Ave Brewing Co. and tried some beers which were delicious. Next, we had a late reservation at the Grizzly House- a must do if you are ever in Banff!! One word of advice is to wear clothes that you are okay with smelling like oil after because when we walked out of there we both smelled like deep fryers! So worth it though! We had cheese fondue, all kinds of different meats, and chocolate fondue for dessert. The coolest thing about this restaurant is that it used to be a swinger’s club back in the 70s so every table has a phone. At any time you can phone another table and talk to them or your phone will randomly ring with someone on the other end. It is so fun!
We drove a bit outside of Banff to the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. We looped around the lakes and walked onto the ice. A beautiful drive!
We met my parents and sister & her husband for lunch in Canmore at Grizzly Bear Brewing Co. which we loved… I found my new favourite beer and I wish I could get it back home!! Then me and Andrew headed to Lake Louise for the night. We stayed right beside the lake at Deer Lodge which was an adorable hotel with a huge outdoor hot tub in the middle of the mountains. A cool thing we noticed along the drive to Lake Louise is the bridges that go over the highway. They are for wildlife to cross the roads and it reduces roadkill and car accidents in the national park!
The next day, Andrew and I went on a 3-4 hour long hike at Johnston Canyon with Discover Banff Tours. I highly recommend this hike! I can’t want to come back during the summer to experience it in a different season. The waterfalls were all frozen and absolutely breathtaking. As far as difficulty level goes, it was pretty average. We wore ice picks on our boots and took quite a few breaks as a group along the way. When we got to the Upper Falls, we had cookies and hot chocolate.
We met up with my family again and watched the Canada vs USA World Juniors gold medal game at Boston Pizza and had a really fun night even though Canada lost. 😦
The next day we drove back to Lake Louise, this time with my family! It wasn’t as cold this time so me and Andrew brought our skates to skate on Lake Louise (a big thing crossed off the bucket list!). We walked around the Fairmont Chateau to warm up then headed back to Banff where we explored Banff Ave at night. Us 4 kids went bowling in this really cool bowling alley and had a fun last night. The next day we began the long two day drive home and I was SO sad to leave the mountains.
I cannot wait to go back!! I hope you enjoyed seeing some pictures of snow during this heat wave! I am hoping that we can go back to Banff and Canmore sometime soon…I am for sure going to try and drive down while I am working in Alberta this fall. Fingers crossed!