Discover Banff Tours https://www.banfftours.com Big Banff Adventures Small Groups Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:54:20 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Stress-free Snowshoeing in Nature’s Silent Season https://www.banfftours.com/snowshoe-tours/ Thu, 11 Jan 2018 01:08:18 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=5669 One of our best activities for family adventure in Banff is snowshoeing. With our tours in Kootenay National Park, you not only get to explore this neighbouring national park, but you stomp around completely care and stress-free.

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One of our best activities for family adventure in Banff is snowshoeing.

With our tours in Kootenay National Park, you not only get to explore this neighbouring national park, but you stomp around completely care and stress-free.

Although snowshoeing has a long history of exploration in the mountains, it is a winter activity that requires no previous experience and is good for the whole family. Snowshoeing is step-in easy and allows full enjoyment of your surroundings without having to learn a new sport or technique. Upon arriving at our destinations full of deep fluffy white stuff, our guests soon realize just how fun frolicking around here can be!

Unexpected, yet welcomed by our guests is the complete and utter silence of nature in winter. Deep snow muffles sound while being immersed in a silent winter wonderland heightens your senses. Our tours take you through the historically unique areas of Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots in nearby Kootenay National Park, each with a highlight of making maple taffy in the snow – definitely a Canadian classic. Dressing for winter is an obvious must but after walking around, the layers will soon come off while calories are surprisingly burnt. And of course, every snowshoe tour includes Banff hotel pickup – and hot chocolate to warm you up!

Snowshoeing Tour to Marble Canyon with Discover Banff Tours


Banff's Best Snowshoe Deals

Snowshoeing to Marble Canyon
Most Popular

Snowshoeing Tour to Marble Canyon

Your snowshoes crunch on fresh powder as you hike past Marble Canyon's 40-metre deep gorge. This half-day tour is an
Dec-Apr
1:30pm
Banff Snowshoeing Race with Discover Banff Tours
Family Fun

Snowshoeing Tour to Paint Pots

First time snowshoeing? This easy 3-kilometre trail through Kootenay National Park to see the historical Paint Pots is the perfect
Dec-Apr
8:30am

Morning Icewalk + Afternoon Snowshoe

Johnston Canyon Morning Icewalk + Snowshoeing at Marble Canyon
Dec-Apr
8+

Snowshoe to Paint Pots

Our best snowshoe tour for beginners and families is to the Paint Pots – this trip starts on a bridge over Vermilion River below and is relatively flat the whole way through. Hike your way through the snow-blanketed forests as your guide explains the importance this place has had with the First Nations for over a thousand years. Plus, try a crazy carpet slide and feel the rush of snow on your face as you fly down the hill!

Banff Snowshoeing Tour

Snowshoe to Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon is a look back in geological time through what thousands of years’ worth of rushing glacial meltwater can carve rock into – smoothening it and creating holes, cracks, and craters. A series of bridges and platforms criss-cross their way over the Tokumn Creek below and serve as the trail throughout this tour. Impressively, a large flow of water finds its way into the creek bed – even in the coldest of months when no meltwater is percolating. Changes in the surrounding landscape can be seen in the charred forest around from recent forest fires, and our guides will explain the importance of these to the mountain ecology.

Snowshoeing to Marble Canyon

Snowshoes have been widely used in winter cultures around the world – many shapes and sizes have been developed from First Nations and European decedents, mainly made from animal hides and wood. The snowshoes we give you however, are a bit more modern, will fit your winter boot, and provide traction and surface area you’ll need to enjoy our Rocky Mountain winter trails. No winter boots? No problem! Just let us know your shoe size when booking and we’ll bring a pair for you – free of charge!

Which snowshoe tour will you join us on this winter?

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Dogsledding – why you need to book early! https://www.banfftours.com/banff-dogsledding/ Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:58:25 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=5592 Iconic to the great white north and our most popular activity is dogsledding. These docile and well-trained animals take you on a journey like no other through our Rocky Mountains.
With five Banff dogsledding tour options to choose from in two locations, we have options to suit all needs

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Banff Dogsledding Tours

Iconic to the great white north and our most popular activity is dogsledding. These docile and well-trained animals take you on a journey like no other through our Rocky Mountains.

With five Banff dogsledding tour options to choose from in two locations, we have options to suit all needs and family size. Like sleigh rides, this is another great family winter activity that allows parents to take their children (infants 0-5 y/o often riding at a lower cost) on this unique experience.

Dogsledding tours range from 30 minutes to 4 hours – you can even combine your dogsledding tour with a scenic helicopter flight!

Banff Dogsledding Tours (Lake Louise)

Want to mush at beautiful Lake Louise in Banff National Park? Get a taste for dogsledding on a 30 minute dogsled on an guide driven sled through an area that looks like ‘Narnia’ or take a longer 1.5 hour dogsled to a pass at the Continental Divide where your guide will encourage you to try ‘driving’ the team home under their supervision. Lake Louise is the best dogsledding location for a more relaxed, romantic dogsled ride as these lean race style dogs take you through stunning winter landscapes with views of the tallest peaks and icy glaciers.

 

Lake Louise Dogsledding Tours

Banff Dogsledding
Limited Space

Dogsledding - Great Divide 2 Hrs

The most popular dogsledding tour at Lake Louise takes you along the base of giant peaks in Banff National Park
Dec-Apr
9:30am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm

Lake Louise + Dogsledding

Discover Lake Louise + Great Divide Dogsledding Tour at 12pm High season rates may apply.
Dec-Apr
All Ages
Banff Dogsledding
Limited Space

Dogsledding - Narnia 30 mins

This 30 minute tour captures the very best of the spectacular landscape and is the perfect introduction to dogsledding in
Jan-Mar
4:00pm

“A romantic and unique experience! A must do in Lake Louise. Reserve your spots fast, we sell out quick.”

 Lindsey, Discover Banff Tours Group Sales Manager


Banff Dogsledding Tours (Canmore, Spray Lakes)

Looking to experience the thrill of mushing your own sled at Spray Lakes near Canmore? The best-value option is the Powder Hound Express Tour – a 1 hour sled ride followed by hot drinks by a cosy campfire. Arrive for your dogsled tour in style on a 25 minute helicopter flight that soars over the Goat and Sundance Ranges of Banff National Park, or extend your dogsledding adventure complete with a traditional campfire lunch on the 4 hour Sunfeather Winterlude Tour. These tours are ideal for anyone who wants to drive their own sled or those seeking a more intense, high energy dogsledding experience as these fluffy huskies run past alluring hills, tranquil valleys and ice-covered lakes.


Canmore Dogsledding Tours

Dogsled Tour in Spray Lakes, Alberta
Limited Space

Dogsledding - Powder Hound 2 Hrs

This is the best value for money dogsledding tour that guarantees you a hands-on experience to drive your own sled
Dec-Apr
9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm

Dogsledding - Sunfeather Winterlude 4 Hrs

A longer tour with the option to drive your own dog sled in picturesque Spray Lakes, Canmore. Glide through entwined
Dec-Apr
11:00am

Dogsledding - Flight of the Great Snowy Owl 2.5 Hrs

A helicopter sightseeing flight and dogsledding tour all in one awesome package in Canmore! Soar by helicopter for 25 minutes
Dec-Apr
9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm

“An exciting once in a lifetime adventure! The dogs are adorable and fun to spend the afternoon with.”

SamanthaSam, Discover Banff Tours Reservations Agent


The best winter activity in Banff is also our most popular so it is important to remember that booking early is crucial to avoid disappointment. So, what exactly makes this activity the most popular attraction? Well, to start, dog lovers everywhere go crazy for this tour as they get to spend quality time with their mushers and four-legged guides before, during, and after the activity.

These dogs are bred specifically for running and their most favourite thing to do is just that – run. Upon arrival at the tour location, the dogs will be going nuts. Jumping, barking, and whimpering with excitement as they get ready to do their favourite thing. Other dogs on the sidelines bark back in jealousy, but they’ll get their turn. All dogs are rotated so that they get their rest, food, and water in between tours.

Dogsledding in Banff

The dogs’ excited barks and whimpers immediately stop once they start doing what they love. There are no motors, no unwanted sounds, and no distractions – just the crisp air hitting your face as your sleigh glides along in silence. The experience is up to you.

If you want to take it in with your family or partner without any talking, that is okay. Or, your musher can give you as much or as little information as you like – they’ll tell you about the history of this activity, the area, and the personalities of the dogs. Each musher also has a unique story themselves and how they grew to have such a unique occupation. These are authentic locals to the area both the dogs and mushers!

Dog sledding in Banff is an activity that has to be done in order to understand the impact it can make on you. Everything about this activity is organic and immersive, and you’ll soon realize why it’s the most popular activity in Banff and why you need to book early to secure your spot.

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Which Banff Icewalk is Right for You? https://www.banfftours.com/which-banff-icewalk-is-right-for-you/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 21:59:23 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=5536 When the autumn turns to winter and the temperatures drop below freezing, a unique transformation occurs in the canyons – they turn into detailed, Narnia-like ice valleys that create the best icewalks in Banff. Canyons around the Canadian Rockies have been sculpted over thousands of years with the wind, water,

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When the autumn turns to winter and the temperatures drop below freezing, a unique transformation occurs in the canyons – they turn into detailed, Narnia-like ice valleys that create the best icewalks in Banff.

Canyons around the Canadian Rockies have been sculpted over thousands of years with the wind, water, and tectonic movement – exploring these geological time-capsules is not only accessible but diverse in natural and human history.

Discover Banff Tours offers three winter Banff icewalks and each gives a different perspective.

Choose from day or night; hiking along suspended catwalks with airy views into the gorge below or on a frozen creek bed along the canyon floor.

Banff Icewalks

Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Most Popular

Johnston Canyon Icewalk®

Water cascades into this narrow canyon in the heat of summer, but in the winter the thundering falls freeze solid
Nov-Apr
8:30am, 1:30pm
Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk®

Your headlamp makes the frozen waterfalls of Johnston Canyon shimmer as you hike along the suspended catwalks in quiet darkness
Dec-Apr
6:30pm, 7:30pm
Grotto Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Grotto Canyon Icewalk

Explore the icy beauty of Grotto Canyon and see ancient native pictographs using special hiking crampons to grip the smooth
Dec-Apr
8:30am

 

Every experience includes ice cleats to keep you steady on your feet and the option of hiking poles for extra stability – and all with the informative, fun, and interactive guides that our guests have come to expect.

Although each icewalk is different, they all share common characteristics and the local knowledge each guide represents. Plus every Banff icewalk includes hotel pickup – and hot chocolate and our legendary maple cookies to warm you up!

Johnston Canyon Icewalk®

One of the more popular summer hikes in Banff National Park is Johnston Canyon – summertime visitors come daily in the hundreds, each seeking to discover the many waterfalls and lush green flora and fauna that await. Come winter, this place is a whole different story – the Johnston Canyon Icewalk is close to the Banff townsite and a favourite among visitors. Strap on your ice cleats and head down the ice-covered pathways and suspended walkways as your guide explains the geological formations that created this unique place.

Journeying through the canyon you walk past seven waterfalls, the most photo-worthy of which are visibly seen from the pathways. The first large and definitely noteworthy waterfall is accessed after crossing a bridge. For an even better view, you’ll walk through a small cave that spits you out at a viewpoint overlooking dramatic ice formations and cold mists from the falls. Your guide will explain to you where all of this water comes from, even in the coldest months of the year when no meltwater is percolating into Johnston Creek below.

Ascending further up the pathway it’s quickly realized what makes this an icewalk, and one of the best in Banff as well. Viewpoints along the path are explained in detail by your guide as you find more frozen waterfalls before finishing at the largest one. These falls are frequented by ice climbers and more times than not, you’ll find them pulling themselves up the frozen falls, ice pick by ice pick.

Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Is this Banff Icewalk for you? The Johnston Canyon Icewalk includes 2 – 2.5 hours of walking with an elevation gain of 135 metres (443 feet) over 5.4kms to reach the upper falls. This icewalk is considered easy/moderate but is also the most difficult as the main elevation gain is done is short climbs (in some cases steep enough for steps). We recommend this icewalk for those with a moderate fitness level to ensure that you enjoy the tour.

“It’s amazing in the morning when no-else is there.”

Gina, Discover Banff Tours Hiking Guide


Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk®

When visitors want to go for a hike, most don’t think to come out at night for it. The Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk creates an experience like no other in Banff by removing the ability to have daylight 360-degree views and narrowing it down to what is in front of your headlamp. Not only are you more focused as to what is in front of you at all times, but you are going to be the only ones in the canyon. Feeling like you have a natural setting all to yourself is sometimes hard to find these days, but on the evening icewalk this is the reality of the whole tour.

Light your way through this narrow, water-formed canyon as your small group follows our guide to the Canyon’s lower falls along the suspended catwalks, built into the limestone walls. At one point in the hike, we give you the opportunity to guide yourself through the night without your headlamp turned on, just so you can see for yourself how your senses will be heightened and how much your eyes will surprise you in what they can see under the stars and moonlight.

Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Is this Banff Icewalk for you? The Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk Tour includes 1.5 – 2 hours of walking a distance of 2.2km (1.4 miles) to the lower falls with an elevation gain of 65 metres (213 feet). The icewalk is considered easy/moderate, and provides a shorter, easier option in comparison to the Johnston Canyon daytime icewalk.

“Escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the silence.”

Neil, Discover Banff Tours Hiking Guide


Grotto Canyon Icewalk

Perhaps the most off-the-beaten-path icewalk we offer is in Grotto Canyon. This location was once within the Banff National Park boundaries back when it was known as ‘Rocky Mountains Park’ upon first being established. Due to the need for resources like coal to run the steam trains, the park changed in size over the years and eventually ending up at what is now known as Banff National Park today, and Grotto Canyon sits just outside its boundaries.

This is the only icewalk that we offer where you hike in the canyon on the frozen creek below. On the Grotto Canyon Icewalk Tour we come to the Grotto Canyon pictographs – these drawings were done by native people some 500 – 1,300 years ago. The most visible drawing is the flute player, said to be a symbol of fertility and travelling. The flute player (also named Kokapelli) was a consistent drawing of the Hopitu people as they travelled four different directions upon arriving in North America.

After viewing the pictographs and coming face-to-face with frozen waterfalls, you will also find the hoodoos and a small cave. Hoodoos in the Rocky Mountains are rock formations that were formed thousands of years ago from glaciers allowing soft rock particles to fall into small areas, compacting them into tall rock pillars that remained after the ice age glaciers melted away.

See Pictographs on the Grotto Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours

Is this Banff Icewalk for you? The Grotto Canyon Icewalk Tour is a 4.2km (2.6 miles) walk with an elevation gain of 100 metres (328 feet), and a total walking time of 2 – 2.5 hours. This icewalk is considered easy, with a few small inclines.

“Grotto’s a local secret with few crowds and cool human history.”

Emma, Hiking Guide


DEALS THAT INCLUDE BANFF ICEWALKS

Banff Tour + Afternoon Icewalk

Discover Banff and its Wildlife Tour + Johnston Canyon Afternoon Icewalk
Dec-Apr
8+

Morning Icewalk + Afternoon Snowshoe

Johnston Canyon Morning Icewalk + Snowshoeing at Marble Canyon
Dec-Apr
8+

Morning Icewalk + Banff Gondola

Johnston Canyon Morning Icewalk + Banff Gondola
Nov-Apr
8+

The best icewalks in Banff are done with Discover Banff Tours – by choosing one of these adventures with us, we will give you the gear, transportation, knowledge, and experience that cannot be found anywhere else in Banff National Park.

Whether it’s hiking on ice and viewing pictographs, walking through canyons to several sets of frozen falls and viewpoints, or being guided by headlamp through the night, we have the unique experiences that will alter your perspective of viewing nature in winter.

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Transportation from Calgary to Banff: The Essential Guide https://www.banfftours.com/getting-from-calgary-to-banff/ Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:39:05 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=2633 We’ve come a long way from the days when the only way to get from Calgary to Banff was on horseback. You’ve now got a lot more options to choose from to get from Cowtown to your mountain retreat. No matter which route you choose, the journey is truly spectacular.

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We’ve come a long way from the days when the only way to get from Calgary to Banff was on horseback.

You’ve now got a lot more options to choose from to get from Cowtown to your mountain retreat.

No matter which route you choose, the journey is truly spectacular. You’ll start in the flat and dry Alberta prairies and move towards the colossal Canadian Rockies looming on the horizon. Soon you’ll find yourself surrounded by rugged, sky-piercing peaks, with mountains so large that they nearly block out the sky and you have to lean your head out the window to see the tops.

On your journey, you’ll cruise along highway roads until you find yourself entering the picturesque town of Banff. It’s a place that’s nestled in a pine-clad valley with the sparkling Bow River running through it.

Shuttle Buses

Another option if you are arriving at the Calgary International Airport is to take a shuttle bus, which will usually require a booking in advance. Discover Banff Tours offers a daily airport shuttle service that departs throughout the day, and takes approximately an hour and 45 minutes from the airport to your hotel in Banff. Alternatively, opt for a private transfer at a time that suits you with your choice of vehicles from a luxury sedan to a new mini-coach to drop you off at your doorstep in Banff.

Bus Services

Lake Louise TourGreyhound runs a scheduled bus service from downtown Calgary to Banff. There are several daily departures and the journey will take around an hour and forty minutes.

Once you get to Banff you can get around town and to some of the local attractions easily on the energy-efficient Roam buses. The buses are operated by Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission and run regularly throughout the day for a small fee.

Driving

Driving along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff

Renting a car (or driving your own) offers you a lot of advantages when visiting Banff. This is because some of the hikes and attractions are off-the-beaten-track and difficult to get to if you don’t have your own transport. However, if you don’t have a car you can always book a guided tour and get picked up from your hotel directly. It’s worth bearing in mind that most hotels will offer parking, but that parking spaces in the town can be limited. The new Banff Parking mobile site is an easy way to find free off-street parking availability from your smartphone.

There are only a few months in the Canadian summer warm enough for road work, so it is inevitable that there will be some construction happening if you are making the drive between late May and early November. Pay attention to the construction zone speed limits and watch out for road workers.

If you have your own car or you are renting a vehicle, you can drive from Calgary to Banff in about one and a half hours. There are a couple of main routes you can choose from:

1) The Stoney Trail (Hwy 201)

The Stoney Trail is a faster route that skips the inner city section of the Highway 1 and then connects past the Calgary city limits, so you will get to Banff sooner. It will only take you around an hour and 30 minutes to get there, so this is the route that most locals take when they want to get to Banff efficiently. However, there aren’t many stops along the way for food, fuel or shopping so you will have to wait until you reach Banff.

2) Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1)

Highway 1 is a bit more slow-moving and it has a lot of stoplights within the Calgary city limits. You’ll pass some fast food stores, shopping malls and grocery stores, if you want to stop for food or supplies before your trip.

Remember – prices for food at the supermarket in Calgary will be cheaper than in Banff so you may want to stock up on snacks. You should also fuel up on gas before you leave Calgary, as the prices for fuel will be more expensive in the National Park.

Taxi

There are many taxi cab companies in Calgary to choose from and the rates for the journey are fixed by the government. Some of the local Calgary taxi companies include Associated Cabs, Checker Cabs and Calgary Cabs. The approximate cost from the Calgary Airport to Banff for the 140km journey is $250 one way.

Banff National Park Entry Fees

Banff Ave and Town in Winter

When you enter Banff National Park, you will need to pay the official entry fees for the park. You can purchase your Banff Park Pass online or you can pay for it when you reach the entrance gate to Banff National Park. If you are considering staying in Banff for more than 7 days, it makes financial sense to buy an Annual Discovery Pass.

The good news is that 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation and Parks Canada are offering free admission throughout that year. However, regular fees will still apply for other experiences in the park such as mooring, firewood and camping.

So, this year is a great time to plan visit to Banff because you will save on your entrance fees and you will also get to celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial!

How Will You Get to Banff?

Discover Lake Louise

 

These are the main options for transportation from Calgary to Banff so that you can begin your Rocky Mountain adventure. The right choice for you will depend on your budget, timing and travel style. What’s your favourite way to get to Banff?

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How to See the Best of Banff Without Overspending https://www.banfftours.com/see-best-banff-without-overspending/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 15:01:53 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=2489 Banff is one of the most amazing places in the world with a lot of ‘priceless’ and free viewpoints. But in peak seasons, it’s not exactly a cheap place to visit. Now if budget isn’t an issue, there is an array of luxury hotels, high-end restaurants and swanky stores catering to

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Banff is one of the most amazing places in the world with a lot of ‘priceless’ and free viewpoints. But in peak seasons, it’s not exactly a cheap place to visit.

Now if budget isn’t an issue, there is an array of luxury hotels, high-end restaurants and swanky stores catering to visitors with deep pockets. But not everyone falls into that category, and that’s not a problem. Travellers with budgets can absolutely visit Banff and have a great time doing so – you just need to be smart about how you spend your money. Here are a few tips that will help you to significantly cut down your Banff trip costs, so that you can stretch your travel dollars further.

1. Have a Picnic

Icefields Parkway Tour in Banff, Canadian Rockies with Discover Banff Tours

Banff has a number of excellent restaurants, but if you dine out for every meal this can really eat into your budget. Instead, go shopping at the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit, bread, cheese and meats and then have a picnic.

You’ll spend less than you would in a restaurant and you’ll also be able to eat your meal while admiring the gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery. Central Park at the end of Banff Avenue near the bridge is a great place for picnics. And if you’re lucky, you may see elk or deer along the banks of the Bow River.

Or, look for tours and activities that include a packed lunch or barbecue meal. This gives you the freedom to explore in nature all day because you won’t need to rush back to town to be near a restaurant.

2. Save on Your Entry Fee

Banff National Park Aerial View with Sulphur Mountain

Banff National Park charges an entry fee. You can pay per day, but if you are planning to spend more than a week in the park then you will save money by purchasing an annual pass. Remember, the Annual Discovery Pass covers any of the mountain parks including Banff, Jasper or Yoho National Park – so make the most of it!

If you visit Banff every year, there is a clever way to get the most for your money. Buy an annual pass during your visit to the park and then next year, plan your trip for two weeks earlier while your annual pass from the last year is still valid. This way, you will get two yearly vacations in Banff for the cost of one year’s pass.

In 2017 Parks Canada are waiving the National Park entrance fees to celebrate the sesquicentennial – Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation!

3. Look for Combo Deals

Banff Lake Cruise

If you plan on visiting more than one of the paid attractions in Banff you can often find combo deal discounts. For example, if you book the Minnewanka Lake Cruise and the Banff Gondola together you can get a cheaper price. Look at the attractions that you want to visit the most and see which ones offer combination deals.


Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Most Popular

Johnston Canyon Icewalk®

Water cascades into this narrow canyon in the heat of summer, but in the winter the thundering falls freeze solid
Nov-Apr
8:30am, 1:30pm
Dogsled Tour in Spray Lakes, Alberta
Limited Space

Dogsledding - Powder Hound 2 Hrs

This is the best value for money dogsledding tour that guarantees you a hands-on experience to drive your own sled
Dec-Apr
9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm
Banff Trail Riders Public Sleigh Ride
Family Fun

Sleigh Rides

Join us on a sleigh ride through the Banff mountain meadows with your family, friends or loved ones for a
Dec-Mar
Throughout the day

4. Use the Roam Bus

Discover Banff and Its Wildlife Lake Minnewanka

If you don’t have a car, the Roam Bus is a cheap way to get around between many of the local attractions as well as between Banff and Canmore. Sometimes your hotel may even offer you complimentary bus passes, so be sure to ask!

5. Check Out the Visitor Information Centre

Events in Banff

One of the first places you should head after arriving in Banff (after taking a moment to marvel at the mountains) is the Visitor Information Centre on Banff Avenue.

The staff there are incredibly helpful and friendly and they can offer you complimentary brochures, maps and information about free and cheap events and attractions in the area. Plus, you can find out about the free guided walks and hikes that Parks Canada will be hosting during your stay.

While you are at the Visitor Information Centre you can also check out the Banff and Lake Louise community calendars to find out about the events going on during your stay. Often there are free concerts, festivals and other exciting events to enjoy.

6. Consider Staying in Canmore

If you have a car, consider staying in the nearby town of Canmore rather than in Banff itself. It’s only about a 30-minute drive away, but you’ll find cheaper prices on hotels and motels. Plus, Canmore offers a quieter atmosphere and a better chance to get to know the locals, rather than being surrounded by other tourists.

Oh, and if you are staying in Canmore make sure that you fill up your fuel tank there too. Fuel is cheaper in Canmore than it is in Banff or Lake Louise. Calgary is even cheaper. So if you’re travelling by car, it’s a good idea to fill up your tank there before heading off to begin your adventures in the Rockies.

7. Ask Your Tour Guide or Hotel Staff for Local Tips

Lake Louise Tour

When you go on a tour in Banff, your tour guide is a great resource for local knowledge.

They live in Banff and they have firsthand experience exploring the town, so they can tell you which restaurants offer the best value for money and which bars have the most generous pours during happy hour. The staff at your hotel are also a great source of local Banff tips – many of them will have great suggestions.

8. Ask Your Hotel About a Discount

Sightseeing Surprise Corner Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

After all, it never hurts to ask. Some hotels in Banff and Canmore will offer discounts for BCAA, AAA, CAA and AMA members and some also give discounts to Alberta and British Columbia residents. Even if you don’t meet these criteria, there’s no harm in asking, “is that the best price you can offer?” while on the phone booking your room. Sometimes they might be able to knock down the price for you, especially if it isn’t the peak of busy season.

These are just a few of the tricks you can use to cut down the costs of your Banff trip. With a bit of clever planning, your next Rocky Mountain getaway can be a lot more affordable than you might think.

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5 Awesome Things To Do With Kids In Banff https://www.banfftours.com/5-awesome-things-kids-banff/ Thu, 31 Aug 2017 15:51:49 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=2643 Banff is a magical wonderland when seen through young eyes. This unspoiled mountain retreat offers your little ones the chance to wander through wild forests, dip their toes in cold glacial lakes, watch the sunsets turn the mountains gold, and see deer and elk casually strolling down the street. No

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Banff is a magical wonderland when seen through young eyes.

This unspoiled mountain retreat offers your little ones the chance to wander through wild forests, dip their toes in cold glacial lakes, watch the sunsets turn the mountains gold, and see deer and elk casually strolling down the street. No matter what age they are, visiting Banff with your children will awaken their sense of wonder and show them how amazing the natural world can be.

To make the most of your trip to the Rockies here are five fantastic things to do with kids in Banff.

1. Tackle a Kid-Friendly Hiking Trail

Family Hiking at Johnston Canyon

Not all hiking trails in Banff are gruelling treks up steep mountain faces – there are plenty of great trails that are doable for those with tiny legs and short attention spans.

Check out the easy switchbacks of Tunnel Mountain, the stroller-friendly paved walkways of Johnston Canyon, or the peaceful quiet of Sunshine Meadows. The Fenland Loop is a great walk for even the youngest kids – it’s flat, offers views of the river and can be completed in less than an hour.

In an email interview, Rebecca from Simple As That told me about why she loves hiking in Banff with her kids. “I love that there are a variety of easy trails that the whole family can enjoy.”

“My kids are ages 6-14 and we are all able to enjoy many of the trails together – our favorite being Peyto Lake. There are trails that even our youngest hiker can tackle in Banff,” says Rebecca.

Rebecca goes on to explain that hiking isn’t just about physical exercise for her family, it’s an incredibly valuable learning experience. “From spotting wildlife to taking in the view to the thrill of reaching our destination, our family loves spending time together on the trail.”

“Over the years we’ve watched our kids learn about ecosystems and plant life, seasons and weather. But the real learning goes so much further than those things. What we really want them to take away are the life lessons that they wouldn’t absorb from a textbook or in a classroom or even by listening to our finest speeches as parents.”

What will you and your kids learn while exploring the trails?

2. Horse Around on a Sleigh Ride or Carriage Ride

Banff Trail Riders Public Sleigh Ride

Sometimes little legs get tired and it’s nice to be able to see the sights without having to walk around all day long. Taking a sleigh ride (in the winter) or a carriage ride (in the summer) is a wonderfully magical way for you and your little ones to see Banff.

During the winter sleigh rides you will snuggle up under warm blankets to go exploring through the Bow River Valley, enjoying views of Sulphur Mountain and the Canadian Pacific Railway. In the summer you will ride in an elegant horse-drawn carriage with your choice between a Bow River Tour, a Downtown Tour or a Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Tour.

Riding in a fairy-tale-like carriage or a sleigh “just like Santa Claus” will be a truly enchanting experience for your young kids. Make sure that you not only capture photos of the beautiful surroundings, but also of the priceless looks on their faces.

3. Soaring to the Summit of Sulphur Mountain

Banff Gondola

“My kids absolutely loved the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain and then exploring the Sulphur Mountain Skywalk,” says Corrine of Have Baby Will Travel. “You can enjoy the breathtaking views of the Rockies without completely exhausting yourself or tiring out little legs.”

Make sure that your little ones are dressed warmly – it will be much cooler at the summit of the mountain two thousand metres above sea level. The awe-inspiring views from the top will give you a sense of the sheer scale of this gargantuan mountain range.

Nicole from The Passport Kids also recommends the Banff Gondola. “Kids love taking these rides above the tree line and getting a bird’s eye view of the mountains,” she says. “Anytime of the year the Rocky Mountains are a miraculous natural wonder to see.”

Want to make a full day of it? Discover Banff Tours offers a Banff Tour and Gondola Package which includes a three hour tour to some of Banff’s most iconic landmarks and viewpoints in the morning and then a transfer to the Banff Gondola.

4. Skiing at Sunshine Village

Family Skiing at Sunshine Village with Children in the Canadian Rockies

Nicole also highly recommends taking your kids skiing at Sunshine Village. If yours is a skiing family, everyone will have a great time at this resort – from grandpa to the youngest toddler.

Sunshine is well laid out and you can always see the village below from any slope, which is helpful for letting your older kids go off skiing together without the adults. There is a top-notch skiing school there, so you can invest in some lessons for your young ones to perfect their technique.

There is a also daycare for kids aged 19 months to 6 years old, so you can leave your youngest there to play and hit the slopes with the adults and the older kids. Afterwards, you can treat everyone to a well-earned hot chocolate at one of the many great restaurants and cafes.

5. Bumming Around in Banff

Town of Banff in the winter

Make sure that you allow at least one day in your trip for just hanging out in the town of Banff itself. If you want to take a break from hiking and exploring, just leisurely explore the town and you will find a lot to enjoy. There are a lot of interesting shops along Banff Avenue where you can pick up some souvenirs, as well as friendly cafes where you can sit and people-watch while enjoying a snack.

“In Banff there is beauty all around you and the small town is easy to navigate on foot,” says Corrine. “Even if you don’t have an adventure planned for the day you still feel like a mountain explorer hanging out at one of the many local playgrounds with a coffee in your hand.”

Nicole raved to me about the sweet treats her family loves to indulge in along Banff Avenue. “Our favourites are Beavertails, the Banff Sweet Shoppe and the Banff Candy Store,” she says, “A tradition every time we go back!”

If you get hungry and are looking for a kid friendly restaurant, Lisa from Drink, Play, Love recommends Banff Ave. Brewing Company. “I love restaurants where there are TVs broadcasting hockey games, the waiter brings crayons and a kid menu as soon as you sit down, and you don’t have to worry if your kids are loud or spill their food. And even if it all goes south… at least you’ve got seven microbrews to choose from for sorrow-drowning,” she says.

What are your favourite things to do with kids in Banff? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Best Hikes In Banff And Lake Louise https://www.banfftours.com/5-best-hikes-banff-lake-louise/ https://www.banfftours.com/5-best-hikes-banff-lake-louise/#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:06:36 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=2496 The crisp pine-scented air. The crunch of rocky scree under your boots. The way the sunlight glints off a river in the valley far below you. Yes, Banff and Lake Louise are paradise for hiking enthusiasts. Avid hikers from all over the world come to traipse up and down the

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The crisp pine-scented air. The crunch of rocky scree under your boots. The way the sunlight glints off a river in the valley far below you.

Yes, Banff and Lake Louise are paradise for hiking enthusiasts. Avid hikers from all over the world come to traipse up and down the slopes here and they are rewarded with views of wildflower meadows, chalky-blue lakes and jagged mountain ranges.

Also, while walking through the wilderness, there is a very good chance of encountering one of Banff’s animal residents: this might include a herd of bighorn sheep perched on an escarpment or a mother elk and her calf resting in a clearing.

If you are planning a hiking getaway in Banff and Lake Louise, here are five fantastic hikes that will show you the best of the national park’s beauty.

 

1. Plain of Six Glaciers

Hiking in Banff and Lake Louise

Distance: 15.1 km

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult – You can accomplish it if you are of average fitness

Type of Terrain: Flat shoreline, then climbing through a narrow rocky valley

Time: Approximately 5 hours, which will give you time to relax at the Teahouse

Getting There: Park just off Lake Louise Drive, south of the Chateau Lake Louise

Glaciers are incredible. These enormous sheets of ice have been sliding slowly across the mountains over millions of years, carving out a path behind them. The trail up to the Plain of Six Glaciers will take you close to the heart of Mount Lefroy, the Victoria Glacier and Mount Victoria. To get a close-up look at this rugged terrain is a truly humbling experience and hence, one of the Signature Hikes offered by Discover Banff Tours.

This hike offers breathtaking views and plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. Keep your eyes open for chipmunks, pika, squirrels, grizzly bears and mountain goats. The final ascent of the trail can get quite steep, so take your time and stop for a rest if you need to. When you arrive at the top, you can stop at the tea house and wrap your hands around a warm mug of tea or coffee.

 

2. Sunshine Meadows

Hiking Sunshine Meadows

Distance: 11.9 km

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Type of Terrain: A steep dirt road which levels out into alpine meadows

Time: 3.5 hours

Getting There: The hike begins at the Sunshine Village Parking Lot, or you can be picked up from your hotel.

The Sunshine Meadows trail will take you to a gorgeous meadow in the mountains filled with colourful wildflowers. These alpine areas are carpeted with glacier lilies and fireweed. Plus, with the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies as a backdrop, you will feel like you are living in a postcard.

The best time of year to see the wildflowers in full bloom is in mid-June through August. In September the larches will turn yellow and red, giving another spectacular burst of colour. This fragile alpine meadow is covered in snow from October through to mid-June. Lonely Planet even rated this trail the number one hike in Canada.


Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours
Most Popular

Johnston Canyon Icewalk®

Water cascades into this narrow canyon in the heat of summer, but in the winter the thundering falls freeze solid
Nov-Apr
8:30am, 1:30pm
Dogsled Tour in Spray Lakes, Alberta
Limited Space

Dogsledding - Powder Hound 2 Hrs

This is the best value for money dogsledding tour that guarantees you a hands-on experience to drive your own sled
Dec-Apr
9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm
Banff Trail Riders Public Sleigh Ride
Family Fun

Sleigh Rides

Join us on a sleigh ride through the Banff mountain meadows with your family, friends or loved ones for a
Dec-Mar
Throughout the day

3. Cascade Amphitheatre

Banff Sightseeing Chairlift

Distance: 15.4 km return

Difficulty Level: Moderate – Difficult (steep uphill)

Type of Terrain: Dense forest, then an amphitheatre enclosed by limestone cliffs

Time: 4-6 hours

Getting There: The trailhead begins at Mount Norquay.

This exciting journey will take you on a bridge over Forty Mile Creek then through some thick pine forest to the incredible Cascade Amphitheatre – a natural sub-alpine meadow carved out by glaciers and surrounded by limestone cliffs on either side. You’ll see several striking peaks, including Mount Edith, Louis and Fifi.

The ascent is quite aggressive: you’ll be steadily climbing on root-woven trails through the heavy forest. However, the challenge is absolutely worth it. If you are lucky, you may see mountain goat perched on the slopes of the Cascade or bighorn sheep along the Mount Norquay Road.

Reward yourself at the end of the day with beer and nibbles and the best patio view in Banff at the Cliffhouse Bistro at Banff Mt Norquay.

 

4. Cory Pass

Jasper Wildlife Discovery Tour Sheep

Distance: 13 km return

Difficulty Level: Difficult – the terrain is rugged and the trail is steep

Type of Terrain: Climbing through scree fields and avalanche paths above the treeline

Time: 5-6 Hours

Getting There: The trail begins at the Fireside Picnic Area

If you are a relatively fit hiker and are looking for a challenge, Cory Pass is a difficult trail between Mts. Cory and Edith that is totally worth the effort. You’ll climb a strenuous 915 m until you are above the treeline, scrambling along on rocky scree and sometimes finding yourself wandering through pristine alpine meadows. Stop for a moment and take in the view of Mt. Louis, an enormous monolith of limestone towering above the forest below.

If you want to extend the adventure, you have the option of descending into the Gargoyle Valley before you return to your vehicle. Bring ample water with you. To turn the experience into a full day trip, bring a picnic to enjoy at the top while you soak in the view.

 

5. Consolation Lakes

Discover Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour

Distance: 11.4 km

Difficulty Level: Easy – Moderate

Type of Terrain: Gentle creekside trails and forest paths

Consolation Lakes Trail is a relatively popular loop that is suitable for all skill levels and is accessible from March to September. There are few trails in Banff that will reward you with so many gorgeous views for such little physical effort.

Consolation Lake is stunning and tranquil, surrounded by large boulders and marsh and reflecting the views of the glaciers and rocky peaks in its clean blue water. The view of Moraine Lake is also one of the most famous ones in the Rockies – it used to be featured on the $20 bill. If you visit in late June you can listen to the snow and ice crumbling off the hanging glaciers that surround the area.

Go Solo or Join a Guided Hike?

There are many great reasons to join a small guided hike of Banff and Lake Louise, rather than going solo.  Some trails mandate that you travel in groups, due to high grizzly populations in the area and parking at trailheads is being increasingly challenging.

Guides provide interesting stories about the original mountaineers who steps you are following, tell you the name of that wildflower and make geology fun!  You might even make some new friends, meeting people who have also come to enjoy the mountains.

Find out which are Discover Banff Tours’ Guides’ favourite Signature Hikes for Banff & Lake Louise.

 

What’s your favourite hike in Banff? Tell us about your trekking adventures in the comments.

 

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Latest Wildlife Sightings in Banff https://www.banfftours.com/latest-wildlife-sightings-in-banff/ Wed, 17 May 2017 17:01:01 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=4209 Respect the Wildlife While it’s a thrill to see wildlife in their natural surroundings, it is crucial to be respectful and not to encroach on their environment. The Parks Canada website has a helpful guide to safe wildlife viewing that is a must-read before you visit Banff. You should never

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Respect the Wildlife

While it’s a thrill to see wildlife in their natural surroundings, it is crucial to be respectful and not to encroach on their environment. The Parks Canada website has a helpful guide to safe wildlife viewing that is a must-read before you visit Banff.

You should never try to entice wildlife by offering food or imitating it’s call and posing with a wild animal puts you in danger. Keep your distance – if you cause an animal to move that means you are too close. Remember: these are wild animals and observing them in a safe way is better for your health as well as theirs!

Here’s a list of what animals (big and small – we protect them all) we’ve spotted on our Banff Evening Wildlife Safari:

6th October:

5th October: Elk, coyote.

4th October: no wildlife sighted.

3rd October: Elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer.

2nd October: Elk, coyote, mule deer.

1st October: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer, coyote.

30th September: Bull elk fighting with each other.

29th September: Elk, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep.

28th September: Elk

27th September: Bull & cow elk, ewe and lamb bighorn sheep.

26th September: No wildlife sighted.

25th September: Elk and white tailed deer.

24th September: Elk and mule deer.

23rd September: Elk and white tailed deer.

22nd September: Elk, coyote.

21st September: Elk, coyote, white tailed deer stag & doe.

20th September: Elk.

19th September: No wildlife sighted.

18th September: Elk, black bear, white tailed deer.

17th September: Elk, mule deer, coyote.

16th September: Elk, white tailed deer.

15th September: Elk.

14th September: Elk, coyote, white tailed deer, mule deer.

13th September: Elk, coyote, mule deer, white tailed deer.

12th September: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer.

11th Septmeber: Bighorn sheep, white tailed deer stag.

10th September: Elk harems.

9th September: Elk, white tailed deer, mallards, mule deer.

8th September: Elk.

7th September: Bull elk fighting with each other, stag & doe white tailed deer, coyote, Canada geese, common mergansers.

6th September: Elk, bighorn sheep rams.

5th September: Elk everywhere! Coyote.

4th September: Mule deer stag, cow elk, bighorn sheep ram, white tailed deer.

3rd September: Bull elk, bighorn sheep rams & ewes, osprey, herd of cow elk.

2nd September: Elk, bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, mule deer.

1st September: Elk, white tailed deer, mule deer.

31st August: Bighorn sheep, elk.

30th August: No wildlife sighted.

29th August: No wildlife sighted.

28th August: Mule deer, elk.

27th August: Mule deer, white tailed deer.

26th August: Osprey with fish, bald eagle, bighorn sheep ewes & lambs, white tailed deer, mule deer, elk.

25th August: Bull elk, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep.

24th August: Coyote.

23rd August: Elk.

22nd August: Bighorn sheep rams, ewes & lambs, elk, mule deer, osprey.

21st August: Bull elk, osprey, columbian ground squirrel, bull moose.

20th August: Elk, coyote, mule deer, bighorn sheep rams, bear.

19th August: Bighorn sheep (ewes & lambs), mule deer, bull elk, white tailed deer, coyote.

18th August: Coyote, elk, mule deer doe & fawns, white tailed deer, loon, bald eagle, osprey.

17th August: White tailed deer, cow & juvenile elk, coyote.

16th August: Osprey, mule deer bucks, bighorn sheep rams, elk, white tailed deer does.

15th August: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep, osprey, bald eagle.

14th August: Elk, mule deer, red squirrel, osprey with fish, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep.

13th August: Bighorn sheep, elk, mallards.

12th August: Bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, coyote.

11th August: Elk, bighorn sheep.

10th August: Bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, mule deer, coyote.

9th August: Mountain goat nanny & kid, elk herd.

8th August: No wildlife sighted.

7th August: Osprey, bighorn sheep, elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, bighorn sheep.

6th August: Barred owl, osprey, mule deer, white tailed deer, elk.

5th August: Mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk.

4th August: Elk, white tailed deer, bald eagle, osprey, bighorn sheep.

3rd August: White tailed deer, mule deer, elk.

2nd August: White tailed deer, elk.

1st August: Elk, bighorn sheep.

July 31st: No wildlife sighted.

30th July: Mule deer, bighorn sheep, white tailed deer.

29th July: 70+ herd of elk, bighorn sheep.

28th July: Elk, bighorn sheep.

27th July: 70+ herd of elk, bighorn sheep, black bear with cubs.

26th July: Black bear, elk, mule deer.

25th July: Elk, bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, black bear, loon.

24th July: Elk with calf, mule deer, snowshoe hare.

23rd July: White tailed deer, bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk.

22nd July: White tailed deer doe and buck, coyote

21st July: Elk with calves

20th July: 70+ herd of elk, bighorn rams, ewes and lambs.

19th July: 70+ herd of elk, cinnamon black bear, bighorn rams & ewes, 2 bull elk.

18th July: Elk, coyote, bighorn sheep.

17th July: Black bear, wolf, elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer.

16th July: Bighorn sheep, cow elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, bull elk.

15th July: Coyote, grizzly bear, bighorn sheep, elk, white tailed deer.

14th July: Elk, black bear, bighorn sheep, mule deer, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep.

13th July: Elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, osprey.

12th July: Cinnamon black bear

11th July: Cow elk with calves.

10th July: Elk, bighorn sheep, white tailed deer.

9th July: No wildlife sightings

8th July: Bighorn sheep, white tailed deer.

7th July: Bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, elk.

6th July: Grizzly bear, mule deer, white tailed deer,  white tailed deer, columbian ground squirrels, elk, osprey.

5th July: Elk, bighorn sheep ewes & lambs, white tailed deer, black bear.

4th July: Mule deer, coyote, columbian ground squirrel, black bear.

3rd July: Bighorn sheep rams, ewes and lambs, mule deer.

2nd July: Bighorn sheep, mosquitos (it’s the season!)

1st July: Grizzly bear, bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, elk.

30th June: Bighorn sheep, black bear, mule deer, grizzly bear.

29th June: Bighorn sheep, elk.

28th June: Elk, white tailed deer.

27th June: Black bear, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep.

26th June: Elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep.

25th June: Bighorn sheep, blue heron, elk, white tailed deer, black bear.

24th June: Multiple black bears, black bear cubs, bighorn sheep (rams & ewes), mule deer, white tailed deer, elk.

23rd June: Mule deer, white tailed deer, elk.

22nd June: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer.

21st June: Two wolves! Coyote, elk.

20th June: Mule deer, white tailed deer.

19th June: Elk, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, mule deer.

18th June: Elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep rams, grizzly bear.

17th June: Bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, black bear, mule deer.

16th June: White tailed deer, columbian ground squirrel, magpie

15th June: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer

14th June: No animals sighted

13th June: Elk, mule deer, grizzly bear, cow elk with calf

12th June: Elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer.

11th June: Elk, cow elk with calf, mule deer, white tailed deer.

10th June: Elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, bighorn sheep, red-winged blackbird.

9th June: Two black bears, 3 bull elk, bighorn sheep, white tailed deer, coyote, mule deer.

8th June: Four black bears, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep.

7th June: Bighorn sheep, mule deer, white tailed deer.

6th June: Cinnamon black bear with 3 cubs, elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, bighorn sheep.

5th June: Elk, cinnamon black bear with 3 cubs, bighorn sheep, coyote.

4th June: Elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep.

3rd June: Black bear, grizzly bear, elk, black bear with two cubs, bighorn sheep.

1st June: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer.

31st May: Elk, white tailed deer, mule deer.

30th May: Grizzly bear, elk, bighorn sheep, black bear.

29th May: Bighorn sheep, elk (everywhere), mule deer (everywhere), black bear with cubs.

28th May: Coyote, columbian ground squirrels, elk, white tailed deer, black bear mother with three cubs.

27th May: Elk, Bighorn sheep, mule deer, white tailed deer.

26th May: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep rams.

25 May: Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer, bighorn sheep ewes.

24 May:

23 May 2017: Elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer.

22nd May 2017: Bull elk, cow elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep rams, bighorn sheep ewes, grouse.

21st May 2017: Elk, white tailed deer, mule deer, coyote, black bear, bighorn sheep, canada geese.

 

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Where to See Wildlife in Banff: Advice From Local Experts https://www.banfftours.com/where-to-spot-wildlife-in-banff/ https://www.banfftours.com/where-to-spot-wildlife-in-banff/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 20:56:13 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=4187 A grizzly bear galumphs through the underbrush, 500 pounds of muscle wrapped in shaggy brown fur. An enormous moose sloshes through a soggy wetland, gooey strands of algae hanging from it’s six-feet-wide antlers. A pair of male Bighorn rams face off head to head, the clashing of their horns so

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A grizzly bear galumphs through the underbrush, 500 pounds of muscle wrapped in shaggy brown fur.

An enormous moose sloshes through a soggy wetland, gooey strands of algae hanging from it’s six-feet-wide antlers.

A pair of male Bighorn rams face off head to head, the clashing of their horns so loud it echoes throughout the mountains.

Visiting Banff can make you feel like you have stepped into a nature documentary, with chances to glimpse incredible Rocky Mountain wildlife around every twist in the trail. You will likely spot deer or elk meandering right into the townsite of Banff and if you venture a little further out, you can see other animals such as bears, bighorn sheep, marmots and more.

If you are coming to Banff with the hope of seeing a particular mammal, your best bet is to research the travelling patterns and behaviour of that species. Also, you can visit the park during the slower seasons when it is quieter.

Maya from the blog Travel With The Smile notes that “Although wildlife is sometimes seen throughout the day, I would recommend going out after sunrise or before sunset. Most animals are active during these hours.”

She also recommends walking rather than spotting wildlife from a car if possible, as the animals will blend into the background and they are difficult to spot from a moving vehicle.

But if you’re looking for specific type of creature, keep reading for more details on where to find them:

Elk, Moose and Deer

Jasper Wildlife Tour“The Banff Springs Golf Course lies in an important wildlife corridor connecting Banff to the eastern part of the Bow Valley, and is a great spot for spotting all kinds of wildlife.” explains Emma Schroder of Discover Banff Tours.

“The loop road around the golf course grounds is open to the public in summer only and you’re allowed to drive it even if you’re not playing golf. It is a particularly good place to spot elk during the annual elk rut in September and October,” she explains.

The behavior of the Elk during rutting season can be fascinating to watch. The males will show off for the females with a loud bugling sound and will lock antlers with each other to prove their dominance.

Audrey from Banff and Beyond also shared some tips for spotting Rocky Mountain ungulates:

“Some of the best places to see elk and mule deer are along the banks of the Bow River near the bridge at the end of Banff Avenue or the Fenland Trail near Vermilion Lakes.”

The 2.5 kilometre Fenland Loop Trail is wheelchair accessible and there are guided nature walks around the Vermillion Lakes area in the summer season.

Also, don’t miss the scenic drive down the Icefields Parkway. Not only is it one of the most beautiful roads in the world, it has been referred to as the “Canadian equivalent of an African safari.” You will have a good chance of spotting elk, deer, moose, mountain goats and many other animals.

Bears

Grizzly Bear RefugeIn an article for BanffLakeLouise.com, expert local Faye Baldock explains that May and June offer an opportunity for seeing bears in their natural habitat:

“They start to awake from a long winter in hibernation and are on the search for food. With snow still covering the higher elevations they come down to the lower sections of the valley and can often be seen on the side of the road foraging on shrubs and dandelions.”

When the big tourist crowds flood into Banff in the summer months, the bears will move further away.

“Mid-summer / early fall, buffalo berries are a major food source,” explains Faye, “and in turn can cause the bears to come back down to lower elevations providing another opportunity for them to be seen.”

So with bears being able to freely roam the 6600 km² of Banff National Park and neighbouring Canadian Rockies National Parks, where’s the best chance to see a bear?  

For those wanting a guaranteed sighting, Emma Schroder from Discover Banff Tours recommends the Grizzly Bear Refuge Tour.  “This tour visits the largest enclosed grizzly bear habitat in the world, at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and is home to orphaned grizzly bear, Boo”.

The interpretive centre is open daily during the summer and provides guests the opportunity to observe an adult grizzly bear going about his daily routine, where Boo hunts, plays, forages, and explores, just like his wild cousins.

If you don’t see Boo during your initial visit you can return for another FREE* tour. All of our visitors agree that sighting Boo the Grizzly Bear in his natural habitat is a truly unique experience and one they will never forget.


Wildlife Watching Tours

Wildlife Evening Safari Elk
Most Popular

Evening Wildlife Safari

Where do you find the animals of Banff when the sun goes down? Your guide will know! So keep your
Apr-Oct
5:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm

Discover Grizzly Bears

Meet Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge! Seeing a bear in the flesh is a thrilling moment that will stay
Jun-Sep
8:30am
Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary Interactive Tour
Limited Space

Wolfdog Sanctuary - Interactive

Come enjoy an up-close and intimate look at wolves and wolfdogs on this semi-private guided sanctuary tour with plenty of photo
Year Round
10:30am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:30pm

Bighorn Sheep

See Bighorn Sheep in Banff with Discover Banff Tours

“The rocky cliffs around the area between Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake and the Lake Minnewanka Dam are good for seeing Bighorn Sheep.” says Emma.

“Bighorn sheep can also often be spotted along Mt. Norquay Road or on the drive to Lake Minnewanka,” adds Audrey. These animals are quite impressive, with their muscular bodies and thick, curled horns.

I know from my experience living and working in Banff that Bighorn Sheep also like to hang around at the summit of Sulphur Mountain.

I took the gondola to the peak in summer and was lucky enough to see a group of five sheep lazily chewing the grass only metres away from the interpretive boardwalk. Also, Sulphur Mountain is great for spotting grey jays, ground squirrels and ridiculously adorable chipmunks.

Other Animals

There are many other animals that you can spot on your visit to Banff.

To increase your chances of seeing creatures of all shapes and sizes, take a scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway aka Highway 1A. On this scenic road, Audrey explains, “there are often deer, elk, coyotes and occasionally wolves and bears.”

“Try the back of Lake Louise or Moraine Lake near the rocky areas to spot pikas and marmots,” she adds.

Pikas are tiny mouse-like critters with round bodies and ears, short legs and no tail – closely related to rabbits or hares. They hide in the crevices of the mountainside and they make a loud piercing squeak that echoes around their rocky home – so you will probably hear them before you see them.

Marmots look somewhat like large squirrels and they also make a strange sound – a whistling call that many hikers have mistaken for another group of hikers whistling. They are excellent diggers and they live beneath the ground in an elaborate system of burrows.

Respect the Wildlife

It is a thrill to see wildlife in their natural surroundings, but it is crucial to be respectful and not to encroach on their environment. The Parks Canada website has a helpful guide to safe wildlife viewing that is a must-read before you visit Banff.

You should never try to entice wildlife by offering food or imitating it’s call and posing with a wild animal puts you in danger. Keep your distance – if you cause an animal to move that means you are too close. Remember: these are wild animals and observing them in a safe way is better for your health as well as theirs!

What animals have you seen on your Banff adventures? Let us know your wildlife stories in the comments below.

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How Far In Advance Should You Book Your Tours? https://www.banfftours.com/how-far-in-advance-should-you-book-your-tours/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 21:42:25 +0000 https://www.banfftours.com/?p=2484 When should I book my activities in Banff? So you’ve booked your flights to Banff, your hotel room and your airport shuttle… things are starting to shape up for an exciting trip. However, you might be wondering: ‘Should I book my Banff tours and activities in advance or wait until

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When should I book my activities in Banff?

So you’ve booked your flights to Banff, your hotel room and your airport shuttle… things are starting to shape up for an exciting trip. However, you might be wondering:

Should I book my Banff tours and activities in advance or wait until I get there?’
Sunshine Meadows Banff

While you could wait until you arrive in Banff and may still be able to book on tours at the last minute, there are a lot of advantages to booking in advance.

Here at Discover Banff Tours we recommend booking at least a week in advance. And keep in mind, for most tours, you can cancel up to 48 hours before the tour starts. So, there is no harm in booking something even if you think you might change your mind on the activities you want to do when you get to Banff.

Here are a few other factors to consider when determining when to book:

What Time of Year is It?

Banff experiences its peak season in the summer when the weather is warm and again in the winter when the skiing is good. However, even in the slower season the activities still fill up quite quickly.

You can always call and ask the tour company whether or not that particular tour fills up during the time you plan on visiting. This will help you to avoid disappointment when you arrive. Many people contact Discover Banff Tours to reserve something at the last minute, only to find out it’s been booked up for days.

How Popular is the Activity?

Columbia Icefield Parkway

It is recommended to book ahead for the most popular activities in Banff, such as horseback riding or whitewater rafting, dogsledding and ice walks. These activities will fill up quickly. This is even more true during the peak tourist seasons – so call and book if you don’t want to miss out!

For these popular activities you should book at least a week in advance, but it doesn’t hurt to book earlier if you know it is something you really want to do.

How much would you like to save?

Banff Rafting

In some cases you can make the activity easier on your wallet if you book far enough in advance. Many tour companies will offer discounts for early bookings. For example, at Discover Banff Tours we offer up to 20% off activities if you book your excursions at least a week in advance.

Banff Tours Coupon

Discover Banff Tours owns many of the tour and activity companies in Banff, which means that when you book in advance through us you will get the best price – guaranteed. You can also arrange combo tour packages that will combine different activities for the best value price.

Plan at home & relax when you get here

When you have already arranged and booked all of your tours and transport in advance, you will be able to sit back and relax as soon as you arrive. You won’t have to worry about spending your precious time in Banff calling and booking tours – you can simply show up and be whisked away on an adventure.

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