Did you know that Banff is Canada’s oldest National Park? Additionally, the sanctuary attracts millions of visitors each year with its stunning views, majestic mountains, and striking glacial lakes. But Banff has a lot more to offer besides spectacular scenery. In fact, during the winter season, this quiet town is bustling with activity. So if you’re looking for some fun things to do this winter in Banff, then keep reading. Because in this article, we’re exploring 11 epic things to do in Banff for the winter.

1. Gondola Ride

If you’re not much of an adventurist, but find yourself curious as to what you’d experience on the top of a mountain peak – you’re in luck! The Banff Gondola zips you up to the top of Sulphur Mountain in a cable car; providing you with the experience of a lifetime. You’ll get the picturesque view without the struggle of getting to the top. Work smarter, not harder, right?

2. The Banff Centre

Founded in 1933, the Banff Centre is an establishment that promotes creativity for leaders, writers, musicians, etc. This imaginative group of people are dedicated to positively impacting the world around them. And they do it all within the confines of the vast mountain ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The Banff Centre is the ideal location to take in an art show, enjoy a performance, or even attend an oration during the chilly winter months.

3. Dog Sledding

A winter experience in Banff is not complete until you’ve gone dog sledding. Probably one of the most standard (and essential) things you’ll have to do during your visit. Banff offers a plethora of qualified companies that provide dog sled services during winter. Companies such as Kingmik Tours and Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours allow you to take the reins of the sled or even cross the provincial border into British Columbia!

4. Helicopter Tour

Craving novelty? Want a unique experience? If you have the cash; a helicopter tour will be one of the most memorable moments, not just for your Banff winter experience, but for your life. Elevating close to 10,000ft to get a glimpse of the mighty Canadian Rockies will be an experience you’ll never forget. The sightseeing tours range from 25, 35, 45, and 55-minute durations with Alpine Helicopters. The trips offer stunning views of Spray Lakes, The Goat Mountain Range, The Three Sisters Mountain Range, in addition to a visit to Mount Assiniboine.

5. The Johnston Canyon

The Johnston Canyon Ice Walk is a massive ravine filled with icy gorges, frozen waterfalls, and of course, the good ol’ white stuff surrounding you at every step. This is a walk that can be done solo, or via a booked tour. The interesting topography and immaculate vistas make for a great winter experience during your stay in Banff. The Johnston Canyon Icewalk offers a roundabout 5km path on a well-kempt walkway constructed of steel that hangs gracefully over the giant and majestic canyon. It’s a simple trail with small high-ground elevations. For this reason, be sure that you have the proper footgear prior to jumping on the trail.

6. Ice Skating

Ice skating is a very popular pastime in Canada. And during the winter in Banff, Lake Louise freezes over, which means that it’s prime time to enjoy the elegant sport of ice skating once again. Other lakes for skating include Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka. As long as the lakes remain clear, these are both great options for your winter skating excursions!

7. Banff Upper Hot Springs

After an arduous day of various winter activities, you’ll need some time to relax and rejuvenate your sore body. And what better place to do that than the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Established back in 1932, these Hot Springs started as a sanctified area for the aboriginal people who called Banff home. And upon the founding of Banff National Park in 1885, efforts were made by the government to protect this area for future generations. Nowadays, it is an ideal space to unwind after all the fun yet demanding winter activities that Banff offers.

8. Banff Skiing Hills

Banff offers beautiful and awe-inspiring mountain resorts that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. Besides its incredible views from the summit, Banff also delivers on premier ski hills as many of its slopes are some of the best in the world. Here in Banff, there are three hills situated in such close proximity to each other, that they’re referred to as “SkiBig3”. There are bundle lift tickets for sale to each mountain resort: Mt Norquay, Banff Sunshine, and Lake Louise.

9. Mount Norquay Tubing Hill

If you find yourself hard-pressed to get excited about snowboarding or skiing, don’t stress. You may be more inclined to try tubing! At Norquay Tube Park, you can ride down a mountainside in your very own tube. This is especially good for the kids, as it is a more family-friendly activity – there is something for everyone at Banff! You can race family or friends, spin your way down to the bottom, or just simply enjoy the ride. Tubing is the perfect solution for those who might be intimidated by skiing or snowboarding, or who just want a more relaxed activity without losing any of the fun!

10. Snowshoeing

With more than 1000 miles worth of trails to navigate through in Banff, you better have the right footwear! Snowshoeing is a great way to take in the pristine winter landscape while exploring Banff. You can go on guided tours with other groups or head out solo. Completely up to you. But snowshoeing is a great way to explore and see what Banff truly has to offer in the winter. Here are a few trails to keep in mind:
  • Lake Louise: 4km (easy)
  • Fairview Lookout: 2km (easy)
  • Louise Creek: 5.6km return (moderately easy)
  • Highline Trail: 9km (moderately easy, avalanche training required)
  • Mirror Lake: 5.4km (hard, avalanche training required)
  • Taylor Lake: 12.6km (very hard, avalanche training required)

11. Icefields Parkway

Let’s face it, even the heartiest of some winter enthusiasts need a break from the cold. And on those winter days when the weather is just not cooperating, an alternative is necessary. Try driving to the Icefields Parkway for an incredible view in the comfort of your own car. The wintertime offers the best time to see the Canadian Rockies. There is a 140-mile scenic route to Jasper National Park. Just be sure to check the road conditions prior to leaving. The last thing you want is to get caught in a snowstorm during what should be one of the best experiences of your life.
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