If you are driving across Canada, and you only have a day to see one of the most beautiful national parks in North America, definitely check out Banff, Canada. Banff is in nestled in the Rocky Mountains, just a few hours from Calgary, Alberta. It has some of the best skiing in the town of Banff, and some of the most breathtaking hikes, views, and glaciers throughout the park.
Visiting Banff National Park
We wanted to make it to Banff to celebrate Jessi’s 31st birthday. So we powered through 40 hours of driving from Niagara Falls, New York, hour after hour, just to get there on her birthday. What better way than to check off a bucket list item for your birthday!
What does 31 mean for us? A time of official adulthood…kinda. If we had a dollar for every time someone has said to us, “when you settle down one day”… we would have at LEAST $10. But what if living on the road is our version of settling down? Turning 30 was a wake up call for us…are we really living the life of our dreams? What do we need to change in our lifestyle to live OUR lives, not just the lives society expects of us? Turning 31 means a full year has gone by since we left our old life behind. This last year has been transformational.
We’ve learned so many things living on the road and about living our bliss. One thing we’ve learned is that we love being in nature…particularly the mountains. Dear East Coast, you are pretty in your own way, but the epic mountains of the West call to our souls.
We heard Banff hosts some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Granite peaks that shoot straight into the sky from glacial blue waters. The park is really well maintained, so it’s easy for people with a range of abilities to get out to see epic lakes and mountains.
Town of Banff
The town of Banfff is the cutest ski town! Many years ago, Valerie went snowboarding in Michigan (which, if you don’t know, it’s actually just a trash pile they put snow on top of). She tumbled down the bunny hill with such velocity she just missed a two year old. As she fell, she sprained her entire hand. All to say, skiing is not our thing yet. We may just have to leave coordination to the pros.
So visiting a ski resort town in the summer is a great option for us! Sure, did it have the standard “ski type attractions,” such as lots of faux log cabins and too much wolf attire? Well, of course! If you go in expecting some standard ski type atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed. But the town isn’t why people go. They go because it is simply gorgeous. And we hear the powder is great for ski enthusiasts as well.
It’s famous for a reason. Head left from the parking lot for a steep little two mile hike, straight up, for a great view across the lake of the famous Chateau Lake Louise. Don’t underestimate this little hike, it’s tough! If you want the simpler version head right from the parking lot toward the hotel, restaurants, and crazy expensive canoeing ($100 an hour!). The view from the hotel is the classic Lake Louise photo. Or do all of the above!
A short drive from Lake Louise, Lake Moraine has easy and challenging hikes for all skill levels. If you’re in the area, it’s another must see. With 7 gorgeous peaks all in a row, you can canoe, hike, picnic, or even stay in a lodge with views at every angle.
So much more to see in Banff National Park
We only had one day to enjoy Banff National Park, but there is a lifetime of stuff to explore. If you stay there longer, you can dive deeper into the wilderness for photo worthy hikes, glaciers and climbing. But if you only have a day, and are wearing flip flops…the town of Banff, Lake Moraine, and Lake Louise are must-sees. Any other recommendations? Leave them in the comments below!