For years I worked in customer service here in Banff, both on the retail and restaurant fronts. Many times I would encounter tourists who were surprised to hear that there are people who live in Banff year-round; who have homes and families; who throw dinner parties, take off for hikes on a lunch break, and borrow books from the local library. Yes, there are people who have lived here for 10, 25, 50-plus years – who fell in love with mountain living and never left. I am one such person, and on my tenth anniversary of living in this incredible place, I thought I’d put together ten reasons why I love Banff National Park. In no order of preference, here we go!
1. Adventure Out My Doorstep
In Banff I can literally walk out my back door, hike up to the trailhead for Tunnel Mountain, and be on top of a small peak within an hour. Even the smallest of peaks provide awesome views of our little town and mountains in the distance. A quick jaunt up Tunnel is a great way to get in a quick workout or just clear your mind.
Taken on one of my many jaunts up Tunnel Mtn. Photo-Meghan J. Ward
2. The History is Exciting
Archaeological digs reveal a First Nations presence in the valley that dates back 10,000 years. Our history is full of the exciting tales of explorers and surveyors, first ascents of remote peaks, and the building of the railway. It’s easy to tap into that history through books or a trip to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies or the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.
The historic Abbot Pass Hut. Photo-Meghan J. Ward
3. I Get to Raise My Family Here
Even before we started a family, my husband and I loved Banff because of its vibrant community, the potential for outdoor adventures, and, on a more simple level, because it is such beautiful place to live. Now we get to raise our daughter here. We are very impressed with the community support for families and we’re especially excited to introduce her to all that the outdoors have to offer.
Bike riding in our back alley. Photo- Meghan J. Ward
4. Amazing Eateries
It’s no secret I love great food, and for a small town, Banff has many options to choose from. We can splurge on an amazing meal at The Maple Leaf or The Grizzly House, keep things simple at Sushi Bistro, grab breakfast at Coyote’s, or fuel up with a wrap from Trailhead (in Lake Louise) before a hike.
Coyotes Southwestern Grill, Banff.
5. A Mountain Culture Mecca
Not only does Banff have its own thriving mountain culture, but thanks to events like the Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival and Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup, each year world-famous athletes, climbers, filmmakers and storytellers descend on our small corner of the planet, giving us a window into a more global mountain culture. For such a small town, this opens up huge opportunities for entertainment, learning and inspiration.
The Banff World Mountain Film & Book Festival at the Eric Harvie Theatre.
6. I Meet Interesting People
I live in a place that people move to from all over Canada and the world, and that people put on their Buckets Lists to visit. I have friends from Australia, the UK, Japan, and Germany, and regularly hear up to eight different languages spoken in a coffee shop on a busy summer day. More than nationality, Banff has some of the most open-minded residents I have ever encountered, so ideas, creativity and entrepreneurship abound.
7. Backcountry Lodges that Soothe Your Soul
If I was given just a few days to live, I would spend them at a backcountry lodge like Skoki or Shadow Lake. I swear these backcountry lodges have magical powers that force you into relaxation and “recharge” mode. Journeying there on your own two feet is a part of the experience and only makes you more deserving of the delicious food at the other end.
Gourmet cooking at Skoki Lodge. Photo-Meghan J. Ward
8. I (Generally) Don’t Have to Dress Up
The dress code here, save for a few jobs, is “mountain casual”, which is perfect because it’s all I have in my wardrobe. Sure, mountain people know how to dress up and take life seriously, but I love the relaxed ‘corporate’ atmosphere – one that’s focused on having a good time doing what you do for a living.
9. This Place Keeps Me Youthful
I’m only in my 30s, but I’m continually inspired by my “elders” who have not faded in their sense for adventure. Whether it’s doing a headstand on a paddleboard or climbing peaks at the age of 90, we’re surrounded by people who stay young by staying active. Who says getting older means letting go of youthfulness?
Year-round adventure right in our backyard. Photo-Meghan J. Ward
10. I Get to Pursue My Passions Here
Not everyone wants to start their own business, but if you do, Banff is an amazing place to flex your creative muscles and make your dreams come true. I am lucky to live in a place that let’s me play outside, write about it, and get paid for it. It doesn’t come without a lot of hard work, but here in Banff I can combine my professional life with my passions. I’m not sure I can ever leave.
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