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Canada

11 INCREDIBLE Things to Do In Banff In Winter

Dec 10, 2023

Canada

11 INCREDIBLE Things to Do In Banff In Winter

Dec 10, 2023

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Gatorade blue water, mountain peaks, and endless adventure make Banff, Canada a special place to visit. And while some folks save this bucket list destination for the summer months, exploring things to do in Banff in winter can be equally, if not more, special. 

With a heavy dusting of snow, it becomes a winter wonderland that’ll make your heart sing—or freeze; please dress warm (kidding).

So in this blog, we’ll cover the most amazing bucket list for Banff in winter so you can have the holiday of a lifetime!

Make sure you read my guide on planning a trip to Banff in winter next.

Disclaimer: Hey explorer! This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of each purchase made through my links. I only ever recommend products I believe in and appreciate your support if you decide to use my links—thank you!

FREE CLASS: Get PAID to Travel!

Sign up for my free class and learn how I land paid brand deals that pay me to travel as a content creator and influencer!

Best Things To Do In Banff In Winter

#1 Go Dog Sledding ( A Banff in Winter Must-Do) 

Oh my gosh, if you’re in Banff for winter you MUST MUST MUST go dog sledding!

The best part about dog sledding in Banff is that there are a ton of companies to choose from.

If you want to lead the way and be a musher, you can go with a company like  Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours.

Otherwise, Kingmik Tours is another popular option for visitors. 

#2 Hike Johnston’s Canyon

Johnston’s Canyon was a summer favorite of mine in Banff, but it is equally as beautiful in the winter!

Although you have a few trail options for this hike if you’re visiting Banff in winter, try out the 3.1mi round trip trail.  

Imagine walking through a canyon covered in icicles — that’s exactly what you can expect when you go in winter.  

Johnston’s Canyon Fast Facts:

  • Distance: 3.1 miles RT
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: 30min outside the town of Banff
  • Best Time To Hike: Mid-day
  • Gear Suggested: Microspikes

You might also like this ice walk canyon tour!

Must-Have Experience: Johnston Canyon, Hot Springs, Lake Minnewanka Winter Tour

#3 Try Ice Skating

Banff is 110% the place to be if you want to get your skates on this winter. When winter hits in Banff, the lakes freeze over.

They make the perfect outdoor skating rinks. Below is a list of lakes you can take your skates out for a spin when you visit Banff in winter. 

  • Two Jack Lake, 
  • Johnson Lake, 
  • Lake Minnewanka, 
  • Lake Louise

Lake Louise is by far the most popular ice skating rink because it is well maintained! The others sometimes have snow on them, making skating a bit more complicated. 

You’d Like: Lake Louise & Banff Private Day Tour

#4 Ride the Banff Gondola

What fun are mountains if you can’t see them from above?

When visiting Banff in winter, one of the most popular things to do is to ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

At the top, you’ll find some fantastic restaurants that will give you some of the best dinner views of your life. Otherwise, you can stand in awe at the sky deck.

You can find more information about the tickets here

Also Check Out: Banff Gondola & Chairlift Combo

#5 Visit a Ski Resort

Did you know Banff has three main ski resorts called Ski Big 3?

Skiing the Big 3 is one of the most popular winter activities in Banff! Here they are: 

  • Banff Sunshine: Loaded with 137 trails for you ski lovers out there! 
  • Lake Louise: The Lake Louise resort is perfect for skiers and snowboarders of every skill level. You can also take lessons here to brush up on your skills! 
  • Mount Norquay: If you don’t want to ski and think tubing might be fun, the Mount Norquay resort might be what you need! They also have more advanced ski options here.

You can learn about the Big 3 passes here.

#6 Go Tubing

“Okay, Dani, I am not a snowboarder, I am not a skier, and I am certainly not an Olympian figure skater — what else is there for me?”

I’m so glad you asked! 

When visiting Banff in winter, you can also go tubing! Say whatttt?

Yep! And the best part is that you’ll have some epic Canadian Rockies in your view. A popular choice for tubers is Mt Norquay. 

Mt Norquay Fast Facts:

  • Hours: Monday – Sunday from 5 PM to 9 PM
  • Cost: With a Ski Big 3 pass  – $0; Without: $35 CAD per adult

#7 Go Snowshoeing

You can go snowshoeing at multiple trails in the Banff area. Below is a list of a few:

  • Lake Louise Lakeshore (easy) — 4 km out and back
  • Fairview Lookout (easy) – 2 km out and back 
  • Mirror Lake via Lake Agnes (difficult + avalanche training required) – 5.4 km out and back 
  • Lake Minnestima (difficult) — 4.3 km out and back

Always make sure to check conditions and avalanche warnings.

Likely to Sell Out: Epic Snowshoeing Tour

#8 Take a Sleigh Ride

If you’re feeling extra holiday-ish this year, I HIGHLY recommend you take your butt to Lake Louise and jump in a horse-drawn sleigh!

The Fairmont Lake Louise has a set schedule from mid-December to early-April for sleigh rides that you can book!

The trips typically provide you with some gear to stay warm like blankets, and the sleighs are usually all decked out in decor.

You can read more information about it here

#9 Drive Down Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of road. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can drive almost 140 miles to Jasper National Park. But there are closer stops that are worth exploring as you drive:  

  • Peyto Lake1-hour drive from Banff; looks like a wolf!
  • Bow Lake1-hour drive; one of my favorite lakes on the drive and has a secret bridge. Can you find it?
  • Columbia Icefield2.5-hour drive from Banff; it’s winter in Banff, so why not explore a Glacier?

#10 Hike with Wolves (Unique Banff in Winter Activity)

You can be one with the wolves while exploring Banff in winter — all you have to do is visit the Wolf Centre!

How cool is that? 

Check This Out: Banff Winter Wildlife Tour

#11 Visit Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs is a great place to check out while you visit Banff in winter because you’ll get to escape the cold. Here are the fast facts for getting in:

Banff Upper Hot Springs Fast Facts:

  • Adult Tickets: $9.25 CAD
  • Youth Tickets: $8.00 CAD
  • Towels: $2.00 CAD
  • Locker: $1.25 CAD

Where to Stay

Here are some recommendations on where to stay—get ready to snuggle with some warm blankies and hot cocoa!

Fairmont Banff Springs (Luxury)

If you’re visiting Banff in winter, I suggest going all out on accommodations so you’re as cozy as possible. And this property is the place to be. You’ll enjoy 360 views from just about every part of the hotel, pools, a spa, and access to snowsports!

Rimrock Resort Hotel (Luxury)

Rimrock Resort Hotel is an excellent place to stay for your winter adventure! Enjoy a gorgeous view of the Rockies from your window, then head to the lobby to cozy up by the welcoming fireplace. Talk about a home away from home!

Canalta Lodge (Mid-Range)

If you’re looking for more apartment type accommodations that won’t break the bank, then the Canalta Lodge is for you! You can book suites with mini kitchens and enjoy the outdoor firepit. Plus it’s pet-friendly, so Fido can come too!

I hope this guide helped you find new items for your winter bucket list! 

When in doubt, I say just book a dreamy hotel and enjoy some time snuggling up by a fireplace.

If winter isn’t your jam, visiting Banff in the fall is another excellent option.

Stay warm!

Gatorade blue water, mountain peaks, and endless adventure make Banff, Canada a special place to visit. And while some folks save this bucket list destination for the summer months, exploring things to do in Banff in winter can be equally, if not more, special. 

With a heavy dusting of snow, it becomes a winter wonderland that’ll make your heart sing—or freeze; please dress warm (kidding).

So in this blog, we’ll cover the most amazing bucket list for Banff in winter so you can have the holiday of a lifetime!

Make sure you read my guide on planning a trip to Banff in winter next.

Disclaimer: Hey explorer! This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of each purchase made through my links. I only ever recommend products I believe in and appreciate your support if you decide to use my links—thank you!

FREE CLASS: Get PAID to Travel!

Sign up for my free class and learn how I land paid brand deals that pay me to travel as a content creator and influencer!

Best Things To Do In Banff In Winter

#1 Go Dog Sledding ( A Banff in Winter Must-Do) 

Oh my gosh, if you’re in Banff for winter you MUST MUST MUST go dog sledding!

The best part about dog sledding in Banff is that there are a ton of companies to choose from.

If you want to lead the way and be a musher, you can go with a company like  Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours.

Otherwise, Kingmik Tours is another popular option for visitors. 

#2 Hike Johnston’s Canyon

Johnston’s Canyon was a summer favorite of mine in Banff, but it is equally as beautiful in the winter!

Although you have a few trail options for this hike if you’re visiting Banff in winter, try out the 3.1mi round trip trail.  

Imagine walking through a canyon covered in icicles — that’s exactly what you can expect when you go in winter.  

Johnston’s Canyon Fast Facts:

  • Distance: 3.1 miles RT
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: 30min outside the town of Banff
  • Best Time To Hike: Mid-day
  • Gear Suggested: Microspikes

You might also like this ice walk canyon tour!

Must-Have Experience: Johnston Canyon, Hot Springs, Lake Minnewanka Winter Tour

#3 Try Ice Skating

Banff is 110% the place to be if you want to get your skates on this winter. When winter hits in Banff, the lakes freeze over.

They make the perfect outdoor skating rinks. Below is a list of lakes you can take your skates out for a spin when you visit Banff in winter. 

  • Two Jack Lake, 
  • Johnson Lake, 
  • Lake Minnewanka, 
  • Lake Louise

Lake Louise is by far the most popular ice skating rink because it is well maintained! The others sometimes have snow on them, making skating a bit more complicated. 

You’d Like: Lake Louise & Banff Private Day Tour

#4 Ride the Banff Gondola

What fun are mountains if you can’t see them from above?

When visiting Banff in winter, one of the most popular things to do is to ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

At the top, you’ll find some fantastic restaurants that will give you some of the best dinner views of your life. Otherwise, you can stand in awe at the sky deck.

You can find more information about the tickets here

Also Check Out: Banff Gondola & Chairlift Combo

#5 Visit a Ski Resort

Did you know Banff has three main ski resorts called Ski Big 3?

Skiing the Big 3 is one of the most popular winter activities in Banff! Here they are: 

  • Banff Sunshine: Loaded with 137 trails for you ski lovers out there! 
  • Lake Louise: The Lake Louise resort is perfect for skiers and snowboarders of every skill level. You can also take lessons here to brush up on your skills! 
  • Mount Norquay: If you don’t want to ski and think tubing might be fun, the Mount Norquay resort might be what you need! They also have more advanced ski options here.

You can learn about the Big 3 passes here.

#6 Go Tubing

“Okay, Dani, I am not a snowboarder, I am not a skier, and I am certainly not an Olympian figure skater — what else is there for me?”

I’m so glad you asked! 

When visiting Banff in winter, you can also go tubing! Say whatttt?

Yep! And the best part is that you’ll have some epic Canadian Rockies in your view. A popular choice for tubers is Mt Norquay. 

Mt Norquay Fast Facts:

  • Hours: Monday – Sunday from 5 PM to 9 PM
  • Cost: With a Ski Big 3 pass  – $0; Without: $35 CAD per adult

#7 Go Snowshoeing

You can go snowshoeing at multiple trails in the Banff area. Below is a list of a few:

  • Lake Louise Lakeshore (easy) — 4 km out and back
  • Fairview Lookout (easy) – 2 km out and back 
  • Mirror Lake via Lake Agnes (difficult + avalanche training required) – 5.4 km out and back 
  • Lake Minnestima (difficult) — 4.3 km out and back

Always make sure to check conditions and avalanche warnings.

Likely to Sell Out: Epic Snowshoeing Tour

#8 Take a Sleigh Ride

If you’re feeling extra holiday-ish this year, I HIGHLY recommend you take your butt to Lake Louise and jump in a horse-drawn sleigh!

The Fairmont Lake Louise has a set schedule from mid-December to early-April for sleigh rides that you can book!

The trips typically provide you with some gear to stay warm like blankets, and the sleighs are usually all decked out in decor.

You can read more information about it here

#9 Drive Down Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of road. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can drive almost 140 miles to Jasper National Park. But there are closer stops that are worth exploring as you drive:  

  • Peyto Lake1-hour drive from Banff; looks like a wolf!
  • Bow Lake1-hour drive; one of my favorite lakes on the drive and has a secret bridge. Can you find it?
  • Columbia Icefield2.5-hour drive from Banff; it’s winter in Banff, so why not explore a Glacier?

#10 Hike with Wolves (Unique Banff in Winter Activity)

You can be one with the wolves while exploring Banff in winter — all you have to do is visit the Wolf Centre!

How cool is that? 

Check This Out: Banff Winter Wildlife Tour

#11 Visit Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs is a great place to check out while you visit Banff in winter because you’ll get to escape the cold. Here are the fast facts for getting in:

Banff Upper Hot Springs Fast Facts:

  • Adult Tickets: $9.25 CAD
  • Youth Tickets: $8.00 CAD
  • Towels: $2.00 CAD
  • Locker: $1.25 CAD

Where to Stay

Here are some recommendations on where to stay—get ready to snuggle with some warm blankies and hot cocoa!

Fairmont Banff Springs (Luxury)

If you’re visiting Banff in winter, I suggest going all out on accommodations so you’re as cozy as possible. And this property is the place to be. You’ll enjoy 360 views from just about every part of the hotel, pools, a spa, and access to snowsports!

Rimrock Resort Hotel (Luxury)

Rimrock Resort Hotel is an excellent place to stay for your winter adventure! Enjoy a gorgeous view of the Rockies from your window, then head to the lobby to cozy up by the welcoming fireplace. Talk about a home away from home!

Canalta Lodge (Mid-Range)

If you’re looking for more apartment type accommodations that won’t break the bank, then the Canalta Lodge is for you! You can book suites with mini kitchens and enjoy the outdoor firepit. Plus it’s pet-friendly, so Fido can come too!

I hope this guide helped you find new items for your winter bucket list! 

When in doubt, I say just book a dreamy hotel and enjoy some time snuggling up by a fireplace.

If winter isn’t your jam, visiting Banff in the fall is another excellent option.

Stay warm!

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