Banff National Park is a dream to visit in winter! In case you didn't know, Kyle is from Canada (read about our story here), and we love exploring Canada. Read about our Canada East Coast adventures here. However, we have not visited the Canadian Rockies in winter until now. The snow-covered mountains and trees make for the perfect fairy tale getaway. There is no better way to start off your romantic trip than with the Banff Winter Wonder Tour. The tour takes you to some of the main highlights of Banff National Park in winter. Hence, it provides you with a quintessential Canadian experience along the way!
All of the below locations and activities were included within the Banff Winter Wonder Tour, which we enjoyed on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were taken between all locations by coach bus. This allowed us to heat up after each outdoor activity and leave our belongings in a safe space when we didn’t need them. Take a seat as we take you through all of the tour activities!
Disclaimer: Our tour was provided by Brewster Sightseeing and we loved it. As always, all of our opinions on our experience and how many Canadian treats you should eat are completely our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!
Views of Two Jack Lake
The first stop of the tour is a viewpoint of Two Jack Lake. The lake is named after two local Jack’s who used to work in the area and frequent the lake. Two Jack Lake is relatively unknown compared to some of the most famous nearby lakes. However, it is no less beautiful!
The sun reflecting off the frozen lake is magical!
Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake in Banff National Park, and was one of our favorite stops on the tour! It is very popular in the summer, but equally as beautiful in the winter.
Here we went on a short snowshoeing walk through the forest and along the lake. It had snowed the night before, so there was fresh snow everywhere. As a result, it was a lot of fun bounding through the deep snow. As the lake was entirely frozen and covered in snow, we even walked out onto the ice!
Bettina tried using some old-style snowshoes made with a wooden frame and dried caribou hide webbing. However, as they didn’t have the metal ice picks on the bottom like modern snowshoes do, it was slippery! Luckily, she didn't fall!
Cave & Basin National Historic Site
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is an interactive place to learn about the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, as well as local history and culture.
The site includes access to an underground natural hot spring, which is protected to preserve the habitat of the Banff Springs snail. This minuscule snail has adapted to live in the harsh environment of the natural thermal springs. The snail lives in just five of the nine Banff hot springs, and is considered ‘at risk’ or endangered. Additionally, there is only one hot springs open to the public (the Upper Hot Springs) to preserve these little Banff Spring snails.
These waterfalls on the Bow River are located very close to Banff town center. The viewpoint here allows you to see the beautiful ice-covered falls in the winter, as well as the nearby merger of the Bow and Spray rivers.
We also enjoyed a cup of warm hot chocolate and a traditional Canadian sweet, Nanaimo Bars while taking in the beautiful Bow Falls!
Banff Gondola on the Winter of Wonder Tour
The last stop on the tour is at the Banff Gondola. The gondola climbs 2,292 feet (698 meters) to the top of Sulphur Mountain. On your way to the top you will have glimpses of the town of Banff and the mountain views that await.
The eight-minute journey to the top is totally worth it when you arrive to magnificent views like these!
At the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Winter Wonder tour includes a delicious sampling of a traditional Canadian snack. We tried bannock with maple butter and a cup of hot apple cider. Both the bannock and apple cider were freshly made upon our arrival. As a result, they were absolutely delicious! So much that we even had seconds!
After our snack we had an hour of free time. You could take photos, walk the boardwalk to nearby Sanson’s Peak, or explore the gondola summit.
After our time at the summit, we took the gondola back down to the mountain base. The coach bus drove back to the town of Banff, and we said goodbye to our excellent tour hosts. The Banff Winter Wonder tour is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon exploring Banff National Park in winter and complete with outdoor winter activities, historical facts, classic Canadian treats, and most importantly all those iconic Canadian Rockies views.
The Alpenglow Festival was not specifically included in our Winter Wonder Tour, but we wanted to highlight it as it is a must see if you’re in Banff on a winter weekend. During the festival you can enjoy an evening of more amazing views and live music at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It happens every Friday and Saturday night between the end of January and April.
The festival is included within a Banff Gondola ticket, and provides a warm and cozy atmosphere at the top of Sulphur Mountain. Inside the gondola summit there is the Glow Bar Lounge, with live music, signature drinks, and tasty treats.
If you feel like venturing out onto the rooftop, don't worry about the cold! You will be rewarded with a heated igloo, where you can eat a delicious s’more after roasting it yourself on the firepits! Our roasted s'mores were perfect! We enjoyed a relaxing Friday night at the Alpenglow Festival and can highly recommend it as an evening out on top of the town of Banff!
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