The default location for a honeymoon is on a warm tropical beach, right? Not for us! Berty and I love the outdoors and seeing incredible places, so we quickly decided that road tripping to the Rocky Mountains was a must for our first few weeks as husband and wife. We decided on Banff and Glacier National Park for their natural beauty, and because it was a new experience for both of us! Banff has gotten a reputation in Canada for incredible hikes and gorgeous mountain views. And uhhh, we agree. Canada is also celebrating their 150th anniversary this year by giving everyone in the freaking world a free national parks pass! Go to this link here and snag your free park pass! (Seriously, this is too good to be true.)
Here’s What You Need To Know About Banff:
- Banff is the highest town (4,547ft above sea level) in Canada
- The National Park alone has over 1,000 miles of hiking trails
- Peak Tourism Season in June-August
- BNP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Average temps in July are 60 degrees and all the way down to 12 degrees F in January
- Nearest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YYC) and a 1.5 hour drive to get to Banff
- Have a very reliable car
- Pack lots of snacks
- Wear warm clothes year round (we went in June and it was pretty dang cold)
- Best time to go – Anytime not between June-Sept.
- Save $$ by cooking breakfast in your hotel/packing own lunches
What To Pack:
- Warm clothes
- Outerwear like gloves, hat, scarves. It can get super cold, even in June!
20 Things To Do and See to Banff, Canada
Where To Stay:
This place left a wonderful lasting impression on us. Not only did our room have jaw-dropping views of the mountains, we were also lucky to have a full kitchen, living room, and access to a pool and spa! The Stoneridge Resort goes above and beyond when it comes to service and accommodating requests. This resort is located just outside of Banff in the city of Canmore. This means it’s much cheaper to stay here vs. Banff, but you don’t sacrifice any proximity to the park. Win win!
What To See/Do:
If you don’t see ANYTHING else, go to this lake. Its iconic view of Banff will leave a lasting impression with the magical blue water and gorgeous mountains. We recommend going early in the morning or right after sunset. Mid-day can sometimes bring harsh sunlight and ALWAYS deliver large crowds. These pictures (seen below) were taken after practically 16 hours in the car. Lake Louise turned out to be our very first and our very last stop in Banff!
A short drive away from Lake Louise, this glacial-fed lake is glowing with blue green water and stunning views of the Valley of Ten Peaks. There is a boulder nearby where you can climb and get the best views of this lake. If your feeling adventurous, you can take a dip in the water (but it’s going to be verrrrrry cold).
Lake Minnewanka Cruise
This cruise was probably the highlight of our latest trip. We were able to learn from a charismatic tour guide about why the water is so blue (spoiler: it’s the minerals in the water), the kinds of wildlife that live in the area, and the history of how these mountains and lakes formed! The tour was about 1.5 hours, and we were pleased to be informed on all things Banff!
This gondola will take you up to the Sulpher Mountain Viewpoint. From here you can see the whole town of Banff, and get stunning 360 degree views of the Rocky Mountains. There is also an option to hike instead of taking the gondola. Hiking is free, but it’s a super challenging hike: almost 2,200 feet elevation gain, 3.4 miles, and will take you about 3.5 hours to finish!
We had forgotten that the sun sets MUCH later here, so we hung out at Vermillion Lakes until about 10:30pm so we could take sunset pictures. We were able to watch wildlife, watch the sky turn colors, and chat with other photographers waiting to catch the sunset too. 🙂
This is actually the mountain you will admire when you go to Vermillion Lakes! Come at sunrise or sunset to catch it in its full glory!
Walk Around Banff Avenue
Walking around the city center was a fun way to get to know Banff and pick up a few souvenirs. I (Emily) was a total dummy and forgot a properly warm coat, so we were relived to find a Patagonia on the main avenue to pick up a warm layer. This place is for shoppers, foodies, and adventure-lovers alike. You can find lots of companies that will help you plan trips out to see famous sites!
Next Time We Visit We’re Going To See:
Peyto Lake (Jasper NP)
Upper Hot Springs
Cave & Basin National Historic Site
Bow Valley Parkway
Parker Ridge Trail
Stay at the Banff Springs Hotel
Banff Park Museum
Have you been to any of these places in Banff? What was your impression of them? Would you make a return trip? Tell us in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
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