Banff National Park is an all year resort in the Canadian Rockies boasting spectacular natural scenery, incredible wildlife viewing, enviable ski runs and a luxury side you wouldn’t expect so far from a major city.
I visited Banff at the end of autumn, just before the ski season and just after the resident Grizzly and Black Bears has started hibernation. I was told it was the wrong time to come, but timing didn’t allow it any other way. Even at a supposed bad time of year, I instantly fell in love with this destination. It’s one of those places that every corner you turn you can’t help but be awe inspired by the beauty of the natural setting.
Destination & Hotel Recommendations
Within the national park there are two small townships, the larger being Banff, the smaller being Lake Louise. If you want action, nightlife and a little more of a buzz, Banff is where you’ll want to be heading. If you’re looking for a little more seclusion, rest and relaxation then you might want to consider Lake Louise. Whilst each destination has lots of accommodation options, they are both centred around historic château style hotels. The Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Spring Hotel are now both Fairmont Hotels and offer visitors a truly five star experience with the kind of service you can only expect to find in one of the world’s truly iconic hotels.
Wildlife - A Major Draw Card
The big draw cards for visiting Banff during the summer or autumn are undoubtedly the great hiking, outdoor activities and wildlife watching. Grizzly and Black Bears, Moose, Elk, Beaver, Rocky Mountain Sheep, Wolf & Coyote all call this national park home. We joined an evening wildlife tour with Discover Banff Tours who took us to all the best spots and shared their expert knowledge of the animals and great photo opportunities along the way.
When all the hiking and wildlife watching has taken its toll, there is so much more to do in Banff itself. A truly trendy destination, you’ll can relax in one of the many day spas, take in a game of golf or two, browse the museums or take in a film at the boutique cinema. If shopping is more your thing, then you’ll not be disappointed either, from designer boutiques to high-end souvenir shops and a sprinkling of international brand names in between – Banff has great shopping.
Nightlife & Dining Out in Banff
When the night rolls in, Banff is the place to be. The streets are lined with restaurants, bars and nightclubs of all kind, I’m told you can keep the party going all night, if that’s your kind of thing. We dined out every night of our stay and changed it up each night. Our particular favourite was The Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge, who served modern Canadian cuisine. We particularly enjoyed the trio of crème brulee with my favourite being the maple syrup.
With the activities and visitor attractions spread so far across the national park, a car is a must. I’d recommend hiring a 4x4, so you can get to all the places you want to. I’d recommend taking a trip up the Gondola for some breathtaking views and driving the Bow Valley Parkway through to Lake Louise. Don’t forget to pack some good walking boots!
For more information or to start planning your trip visit the Banff Lake Louise Tourism Website.