The first dusting of snow brings endless possibilities.
As lakes freeze and snow piles up, an insatiable appetite for adventure emerges from all Canadians. Whether you feel most at home on on a frozen lake or shredding the steeps of the backcountry, Banff National Park has something for everyone.
Here’s our list of essential winter experiences you need to try this season.
The moment you break through the trees and walk out into a mountain clearing, you’ll understand why snowshoeing has been the best way to travel during Canadian winter for thousands of years.
With over 30 feet (9 metres) of annual snowfall in Banff and Lake Louise, snowshoeing is a great way to see the mountains once the snow accumulates and maks traditional hiking trails too deep to access. The best time to explore Banff National Park by snowshoe typically runs December to April. Independent adventurers can rent snowshoes from several local outfits or join guided excursions from several local tour operators. *See below for complete listing.
Cross-country skiers of all levels will appreciate the variety of skiable terrain available in Banff National Park. New skiers will enjoy the ease and quality of track-set trails, including an illuminated loop at the Tunnel Mountain campground for night skiing. More experienced skiers will love the adventure of skiing into backcountry lodges, where you can expect a cozy night next to a fireplace. Check out Sundance Lodge, Shadow Lake Lodge or Skoki Lodge.
Photo Copyright Paul Zizka
Dogsledding is an essential experience for those looking to explore the Canadian Rockies in historic fashion. Snuggle under your blanket and race through the forests of Banff and Lake Louise in a truly unique way. But if you’re a dog lover, be prepared: The best part of the whole trip will probably be spending time getting to know your own team of Alaskan Huskies! You can experience dog sledding with Kingmik, Snowy Owl or Howling Dog Sled Tours.
Photo Copyright @KNOPKA_LA
Lacing up your ice skates on a frozen lake is likely the most iconic Canadian thing ever you will ever do! Although locals may be able to point you to a frozen backcountry lake, there are several maintained places to skate, including several rinks in the Banff townsite and the iconic ice at Lake Louise.
Photo Copyright Hubert Kang
NIGHT SKY PHOTOGRAPHY
Winter nights send many running for the nearest fireplace, but those in search of crystal-clear skies know that chilly temps brings the best conditions for night photography. Grab a camera and boost your Instagram feed with a few stunning long exposures from around Banff and Lake Louise. Looking for some help? Join a professional like Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures on a guided photo tour of Banff National Park and access some great locations along with helpful photography tips.
Summer or winter, Johnston Canyon is a special place. Join a guided interpretive tour and explore both the lower and upper frozen waterfalls via suspended catwalks. Keep your eyes peeled and you might just spot some ice climbers taking things to the next level! Try it with Discover Banff Tours, White Mountain Adventures or Banff Adventures.
Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) today is widely recognized as a vital leadership voice and partner for the adventure travel industry around the world. The membership and trade organization is designed to be a force for the industry and exists to drive thought leadership, industry promotion, and opportunities to network and convene globally to create trade and business health. It currently serves more than 1,300 members in 100 countries worldwide. The constituency is made up of tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents, and accommodations all sharing a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism. Through its growing business services division, the ATTA delivers a portfolio of strategic solutions and a robust ecosystem of events around the globe. With specialized expertise in research, events, education, media, and promotion, the ATTA business service division is able to provide valuable solutions to a broad set of partners across many verticals of business.