The Banff National Park is known for its beautiful views and adventurous activities. With the wide variety of things to do, we have created a list of only the best activities, the gems of Banff.
1. Magical Ice Bubbles
The Canadian rockies are known for their beautiful summer lakes. These breathtaking bodies of water are scattered all around the community of Banff. Through the winter months, the rocky mountain lakes transform into a magical winter wonderland sporting frozen white bubbles suspended in the lake ice.
This phenomenon is created from methane gas being released after water-dwelling bacteria feed on decaying organic matter. The water freezes and the gas is suspended created beautiful white bubbles scattered throughout the ice.
The bubbles are most prominent at Lake Minnewanka, only a 15 mins drive from Banff. Lake Minnewanka is known for its prestige waters and paradisal views. The most magical place is found at the far end of the lake, where you can see an array of congested of bubbles.
Abraham Lake, is about a 2 hour drive north of Banff and is the most popular location to experience the magical ice bubbles. People come from all over the world to view this incredible phenomenon, as this part of the Rockies receives far less snow making the bubbles easily accessible.
Only 5 mins from Banff, the Vermillion Lakes are the perfect place to spend an afternoon. You will not find vast clusters, however you can find small pockets of the ice bubbles. The Vermillion Lakes are the perfect quiet place to take a walk in search of magic.
2. Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is a must see natural attraction. You will experience lush forest, overhanging canyon walls, waterfalls, and pools along the easy trail leaving a memorable impression. The Johnston Canyon trail is ideal for those of all ages. You can reach the lower falls within 30mins, only a 1.1km easy walk.
You may choose to continue to the upper falls within an additional 30 mins, the path to the upper falls is slightly more difficult than the first portion of the trail. For those experienced hikers, you may choose to continue to the unique Ink Pots for a total of 5.7km walk.
As you walk along the catwalk through the summer months, you can look down to see the deep pools of Johnston Creek and impressive limestone canyon walls sculpted from thousands of years of water erosion. A gushing waterfall awaits you at the end of the beautiful 1.2km walk through the canyon.
Johnston Creek is even more beautiful throughout the winter months. The scalable frozen waterfall allows even beginner enthusiasts to ice climb to the top. The frozen canyon transforms into a wonderland of ice and snow through those cold Canadian months, providing the perfect opportunity to go for a winter walk. If you are uneasy about the ice, there are several tour guides willing to take you to the top.
Johnston Canyon has secret, a hidden cave. Only known to locals, you can find the hidden cave by walking towards the Upper Falls. There are a number of signs as you hike the forest trail, when you reach 130-150 meters away from the Upper Falls you will see a dirt path to your right. Follow the dirt path down for about 5 to 10 minutes. There is a rock scramble near the end, be sure to be careful, this area can be very slippery after it rains. The mysterious cave is right by the water.
3. Mountain Horseback Riding
Go to places you would never go with the Banff Trail Riders mountain horseback tours. With no experience necessary, this cowboy tour has been around since 1962 and has over 300 horses ensure you have a mild-mannered horse and safe ride. You may be uncomfortable with riding a horse, and that’s okay. The Banff Trail Riders provides options for horseback, carriage or wagon rides. With tours from 1 - 4 hours, you can find the perfect experience to suit your style.
Treat yourself to a relaxing ride through the mountains and experience untouched nature in a traditional way with horseback riding tours. Banff Trail Riders horseback tours is found just outside Banff and very reasonably price.
4. The Via Ferrata Tour
The Via Ferrata (Italian for Iron Road) of Banff is a one-of-a kind adventure. Travel to the top of Mount Norquay with a choice of 4 different tours; the Explorer, the Ridgewalker, the Skyline, and the Summiteer. Each tour is tailored to meet all skill levels, allowing even those unexperienced climbers to become a mountaineer. As long as you can climb a ladder, you can climb a mountain with Mt. Norquay’s Via Ferrata tour.
This exhilarating tour has a blend or choice of suspension bridges, ladders, fixed anchors, and cables for you to climb to the top. Tackle Mt Norquay’s Terminator Peak with 2 custom courses and 1 suspension bridge. Get the thrill and the safety with Banff’s guided Via Ferrata tour
5. Banff Upper Hot Springs
Enjoy ultimate relaxation and dip into the rejuvenating waters of the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Located on the northeast flank of Sulphur Mountain only 4km from Banff, people have flocked to the soothing and mineral-rich springs since the late19th century.
The hot springs are available all year round and open late for sunrise and sunset allowing you to enjoy magical views while soaking in the hot water.
The temperature the spring is geothermal; the natural spring is heated from the earths crust. The hot spring is created from water slowly seeps through sedimentary rock and then flows up through a large factor in the mountains rock layer. The water produced in the spring has not seen daylight for hundreds of years.
The Banff Upper Hot Springs is a popular location for locals and tourists. It may not be a true hidden gem, but is worth mentioning for its unrivalled beauty and family-friendly spa quality.